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The Taste of WWII in Italy: A Lecture and Project Presentation (March 7, 2021)

Posted in: CHSS News, Endowed Chair's Research, Inserra Chair Events, Italian News and Events

Nazi-Fascism, WWII, and the Allied Landing have been the subject of a large body of creative and research literature over the decades, yet a reading of this historical chapter through the lens of food offers a fresh perspective. Lizzie Collingham, author of The Taste of War, addressed the themes of food provision and control as military strategies with a powerful impact on both troops and civilians, in the course of a virtual lecture – The Taste of WWII in Italy (March 7), organized and sponsored by the Inserra Chair in Italian American Studies in collaboration with the Departments of History and Nutrition and Food Studies at MSU.

At the outset, Jeff Strickland  (Dept. of History Chair) highlighted the role played by food and oral testimonies in historical analysis at large, while also introducing the Allied Landings in Italy and France in a comparative framework. Maurizio Cellura (Memento founding member) illustrated the work of a Sicily-based association devoted to the preservation of the memory of the local Allied Landing. Their participation on the panel was a reminder of the importance of synergies between academic research and community endeavors in the documentation of historical events.

The lecture was followed by the presentation of an in-progress research project about food practices in Sicily at the time of the Allied Landing (Food, Hunger, Migration and the American Myth). Despite the fact that it preceded D-Day, the 1943 landing in Sicily is often overlooked, and this project is aimed at bringing attention to this historical moment for its interconnection with past migrations and with the transnational circulation of food. Directed by Teresa Fiore (Inserra Chair), the project is supported by key MSU donors such as the Cali family (Angelo and Marie) and the Inserra family (Lawrence R.) and involves Italian majors: one of them, videomaker Kenneth Browne, commented on his enriching experience as project assistant during the filming in Sicily). See excerpts from video-interviews with direct witnesses of the landing in Sicily.

The result of a collaboration with several departments on campus and an Italian association, this online event – free and open to the public – was presented in English with simultaneous interpretation into Italian. See YT video (to be added soon)
For more information, see webpage and flyer below.