Waste Not Want Not: Food and Thrift from Antiquity to the Present


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Waste Not Want Not: Food and Thrift from Antiquity to the Present 


Date: 12-13 September 2019

Location: English Faculty, University of Cambridge


More details can be found here


This day-and-a-half conference will bring together academics and professionals working within the interdisciplinary fields of food studies and food sustainability research, to reflect on past and present attitudes towards food preservation and waste. Part of an ongoing historiographical effort to better understand consuming behaviours through time, the conference aims to open up a dialogue between historians and policy makers. Using both past and present as critical lenses, the event will serve as a platform for the discussion of more sustainable food practice in the present and future.

This conference is designed to generate an interdisciplinary discussion between scholars from a wide variety of fields: archaeology, history, geography, anthropology, and sociology, among others. The conference will also feature a roundtable discussion with representatives from the third sector.

Keynote addresses will be delivered by Dr Amanda Herbert (Folger Institute, Washington), and Dr Simon Werrett (UCL).


Any questions should be sent direct to foodandthrift@yahoo.com 

Themes may include, but are not limited to:

  • Food preservation – methods and implements for preserving food; the temporalities of food itself (seasonality, the potential for decay)
  • Management of food waste - methods and implements for disposing of or reusing food waste
  • Spaces of food preservation and waste - the factory, workplace, home etc.
  • Historical issues of food insecurity and food inequality - economic reasons for 'thrift' and their relationship to class/wealth
  • Food waste as a moral/religious/political issue - the wider (cultural) frameworks within which food waste/'thrift' has been understood
  • Questions of memory and time - the role of food waste/'thrift' in visions of the (utopian/ dystopian) future; tendencies to characterise particular periods as excessive or frugal; the impact of these visions on the present