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Typicality in History / La typicité dans l’histoire

Tradition, Innovation, and Terroir / Tradition, innovation et terroir


Edited By Giovanni Ceccarelli, Alberto Grandi and Stefano Magagnoli

Typical food is an in-vogue topic, embodying issues such as current trends in food globalization and European Union policies on agriculture and trade. It is, however, striking how little is known about its history. This book, inspired by the conference La tipicità nella storia: tradizione, innovazione, territorio, held in Parma and Langhirano in 2010, is an attempt to fill this gap. It includes essays by historians, sociologists, economists and experts in the food industry, who cover a wide range of products (wine, cheese, chocolate, cider), across a broad geographic scope (from France to Costa Rica and Norway) and time frame (from the Middle Ages to the present day). Besides the crucial issue of when and why the link between food and place of origin emerged, the contributors look at interactions between physical terroir and human savoir- faire and also between industrial innovation and traditional skills. Typicality is usually considered as a bottom-up process but the role of institutional protection is also examined. Designation of origin can be seen as a qualitative safeguard for food production, yet its influence on consumers’ choices is emphasized as well. In its approach, this multi-faceted book questions the oversimplified idea of typicality arising from a vaguely defined traditional food heritage. In 2010, the editors of this book founded the Food Lab, a research laboratory on food history based in the Department of Economics at the University of Parma.

This book contains articles in English and French.


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Typicality in History. Tracing a Basic Definition - Giovanni Ceccarelli, Alberto Grandi, Stefano Magagnoli


13 Typicality in History Tracing a Basic Definition Giovanni CECCARELLI, Alberto GRANDI, Stefano MAGAGNOLI Università di Parma – Food Lab, Dipartimento di Economia Food history is a fully recognized field of research in academic communities around the world. Degree courses and postgraduates have focused on cultural, social and anthropological aspects rather than technical or dietary aspects of food. And academic associations now exist to investigate food history and culture; these include ICREFH (International Commission for Research into European Food History), set up in 1989, and IEHCA (Institut Européen d’Histoire et des Cultures de l’Alimentation), founded in 2002 and home of the Cultural Food Studies Centre. There are also many new journals such as “Food and History”, that appeared in 2003, and “Food and Foodways” that first appeared as far back as 1985. Traditionally, food history has been examined within the two main areas of economic and social history; the history of agriculture, and, albeit in a slightly more indirect manner, urban history. Towns were after all home to guilds, which maintained and promoted artisan skills, and moreover towns, at least in Italy, were home to the nobility for whom meals meant pleasure and the opportunity of showing off their wealth. The history of agriculture is obviously more robust as a discipline and has a more established academic tradition and methodology. The roots of typical products in farming traditions and local area appear to be more natural and direct. It may be surprising, then, that although traditions are strong, recent research...

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