ANTH 325

The Anthropology of Food in Greece: the Mediterranean Diet and More (Athens, Naxos, Ikaria)

Major Discipline(s):
Summer Session II (June 30 - July 28, 2021)
Over four weeks students will explore the cultural side of food, tradition, and nutrition. We’ll be located in the city of Athens, with travel to Naxos, an island with a strong local food tradition and identity, and Ikaria, an island famous for its food and the long lives of its residents. The “Mediterranean Diet” has received a great deal of attention over the past 25 years as a dietary pattern with significant health benefits. To think of diet in this way, however, is to think of food as simply nutrition. The rich symbolic life of food, its place in social relationships, its importance to ritual, its connection to regional and national identity, its ties to memory: all of these are lost in the focus on diet as diet alone.

This course places this regional diet back into its region, looking at the history and social context in which the Mediterranean diet developed in Greece, and exploring the many different meanings that the production, preparation, consumption, and contemplation of food has in contemporary Greek society. Along the way, issues of globalization, changes in agriculture, food tourism, food security, poverty, and consumer protection will be addressed. We'll also thoroughly interrogate the ideas of “traditional” and “local,” two concepts central to the discussion of regional diets. Our explorations will take us to farms, vineyards, groves, restaurants, markets, museums, kitchens, sweet shops, cooperatives, NGOs, festivals, and more in our quest to experientially study food in Greece.