SOAS University of London

SOAS Food Studies Centre

SOAS Food Studies Centre Distinguished Lectures

Launched in 2007, the SOAS Food Studies Centre Distinguished Lecture Series provides a forum for leading scholars, students, journalists, practitioners and members of the public to engage in critical conversations about the nature of food, the interconnectivity of contemporary food systems, the role of food in daily life, and emerging trends in food studies.

Beginning in 2014, Gastronomica: The Journal of Critical Food Studies ( has joined with the Food Studies Centre to co-sponsor this series. The partnership arose out of a mutual commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and the shared goal of bringing exciting research and policy discussions to the wider public. The lecture series invites speakers to give engaging presentations, followed by discussions with audience members, the content of which is archived on the SOAS website for broader consumption. These lectures—and/or adapted and enhanced versions of them—will be published in Gastronomica.

“Right now many of the most pressing issues around the world involve food. When established ways of approaching food-related issues have proven inadequate, innovative thinking—grounded in rigorous scholarship—is much needed. The SOAS Food Studies Centre Distinguished Lecture Series is committed to providing a prominent forum for the most exciting scholarship in Food Studies today, and we are delighted that the lectures will be published in Gastronomica, the leading journal worldwide for Critical Food Studies,” says Harry G. West, Professor of Anthropology and of the Food Studies Centre.

Gastronomica editor Melissa Caldwell adds, “The Food Studies Centre at SOAS is an international leader in the kind of cutting-edge scholarship on food that challenges and inspires scholars, practitioners, and enthusiasts alike to rethink what they know about food and its significance in the world both past and present. This partnership is an extraordinary opportunity to highlight the most innovative, rigorous and fascinating research on food and bring it to the Gastronomica readership.”

Previous Events in this series

Re-thinking Street Food

Professor Krishnendu Ray (New York University)

Critical attention to street food can change the politics and poetics of good taste, aiding in the decolonization of palatal and philosophical expectations of gastronomy that has come to dominate the field.

17 January 2019, Brunei Gallery, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, 6:15 PM - 9:00 PM

Consumer Citizenship: The Social Life of Industrial Foods in India

Professor Amita Baviskar (Institute of Economic Growth)

This lecture will focus on the role of processed foods, specifically instant noodles, in the cultural imagination of Indians across regions, classes, and the rural-urban continuum.

16 March 2017, Paul Webley Wing (Senate House), Alumni Lecture Theatre, 6:15 PM - 9:00 PM

How Grains Domesticated Us

James C. Scott (Sterling Professor of Political Science and Professor of Anthropology and Co-Director of the Agrarian Studies Program, Yale University)

In this lecture, Scott asks how homo sapiens came, only in the last 5% of its long career on the planet, to live in concentrated heaps of people, grain, and domesticated animals and, later, to be governed by units we call states. He will argue that virtually all classical states were based on grains, which are suited to concentrated production, tax assessment, cadastral surveys, storage, and rationing.

11 December 2014, Brunei Gallery, Brunie Gallery Lecture Theatre , 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

From Arak To Za’Atar: Jerusalem and its many culinary traditions

Yotam Ottolenghi

Modern Jerusalem is unique: it is a city where ancient history and recent events constantly interact – with great intimacy and intensity – and thus shape every aspect of the daily realities of its citizens. Join the SOAS Food Studies Centre to welcome Yotam Ottolenghi to SOAS for this distinguished lecture.

12 November 2014, Brunei Gallery, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Lecture: Ambiguous Appetites: A Modern History

Susanne Freidberg (Associate Professor of Geography, Dartmouth College (USA))
The SOAS Food Studies Centre presents A SOAS Food Forum Distinguished Lecture by Susanne Freidberg14 January 2010, Russell Square: College Buildings, Khalili Lecture Theatre, 6:30 PM - 9:00 PM

Food and Diaspora

Professor Sidney Mintz (Johns Hopkins University)
11 October 2007, Brunei Gallery, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, 6:30 PM - 7:30 PM