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Annual Symposium

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4th Annual Mediterranean Studies Symposium

"Feeding the Mediterranean: Culinary (Re-)Inventions, Legacy and Hospitality"

June 13-16, 2024 (Palermo)


The idea of a Mediterranean cuisine was launched with Elizabeth David's book, A Book of Mediterranean Food (1950), a point of departure for most writers, some of whom sided with its author and focused on what they defined as Mediterranean fundamental ingredients (olive, wheat and grape); and some other who actually denied that the widely varied foods of the Mediterranean basin constitute a cuisine at all. Regardless, one can affirm that the Mediterranean cuisine encompasses the culinary trends shared by a diverse array of peoples that live in the region around the Mediterranean Sea, with some common traditions and inevitable differences; it is indeed the product of cultural exchanges as well as trading interactions among several peoples which has emerged as a unique legacy.

In “Pour une psycho-sociologie de l’alimentation moderne” (1961), Roland Barthes asserts that food is not only a means for human nutrition but a true system of communication, a collection of images, a protocol of uses, situations, and attitudes. Food and its preparation are the products of one’s upbringing, traditions, cultural heritage; the language through which one remembers, shares, celebrates, nourishes and nurtures, states one’s own identity; a variety of experiences sealed together by the flavors, smells, and appearances of the dishes one prepares daily for oneself and others.  What better way of delving into the heart of Mediterranean, its peoples, its networks, and impacts, than to discover the unique cuisine and street food culture of this exciting region? 

As the 4th Mediterranean Studies Symposium is held in Palermo, Sicily’s capital city, its multicultural and colorful food will serve as our backdrop and inspiration. Capital of street food, on the 5th place on the Forbes’ international ranking, Palermo boasts specialties like pani ca meusa, arancine, cassate and marzipane, frittole, panelle, and sfincioni, built on layers of influences from exchanges with Arabs, Greeks, Romans, and Normans.

We are seeking papers on the topic of food and hospitality in and of the Mediterranean from interdisciplinary perspectives (humanities, social sciences, international law, media studies, art, and other fields of research).  Any historical period of reference is welcome though we strongly encourage presenters to focus on the early modern to contemporary times. Presentations of recently published books on the Mediterranean are also welcome IF related to this year’s topic(s).

This symposium will take place in Palermo, Sicily, from June 13 to June 16, 2024 and is co-sponsored by the University of Palermo’s Dipartimento di Giurisprudenza (JEAN MONNET CENTER OF EXCELLENCE 2019-2022, Mediterranean Studies).

Official language will be English (even though each session’s Q/A may be conducted in the language most comfortable for all parties involved). Since the organizers would like to create an informal and conducive atmosphere of dialogue and brainstorming, the number of proposals accepted is restricted. Presenters are welcome to bring along any relevant and recent publication for our symposium book display. 

The symposium schedule will consist of presentations and lively discussions, alongside educational tours, cultural activities, and group meals. 


Schedule At A Glance

Thursday, June 13

8:30 am - 9:30 am Registration at University of Palermo, Department of Law (Via Maqueda 172)
9:30 am – 12:00 pm Addiopizzo Food Tasting/City Walking Tour
3:00 pm – 3:20 pm Welcome by Drs. Pollicino and Summerfield
3:20 pm – 4:25 pm Foods and Hospitality in Sicily (Summerfield, Militello, Cottini, Alshaar) – CHAIR: Cottini
4:35 pm – 5:25 pm Spirit and Body (Zillinger, Gonzalez Fernandez, Maldonado and Rocatìn) – CHAIR: Gonzalez Fernandez
5:35 pm – 6:25 pm Heritage and Tradition (Ferri, Wyer, Gargagliano) – CHAIR: Summerfield

Friday, June 14

8:00 am – 9:00 am Registration at University of Palermo
8:20 am – 9:10 am Teaching and Learning Mediterranean Diet (Dalola, Mulik, Lanza and Garrison) – CHAIR: Dalola
9:20 am – 10:10 am Food in Literature (Csillag, Pezzotti, Pollicino) – CHAIR: Csillag
10:20 am – 11:00 am Food, Tourism and Politics (Barlas, Koksal) - CHAIR: Barlas
11:10 am – 12:00 pm Food and Identity (Baldaro, Karagoz, Boumlik) – CHAIR: Karagoz
12:00 pm – 12:50 pm Gastronomy and Communication in Spain (Boll, Licata, Ingram) – CHAIR: Licata
3:00 pm – 3:05 pm Announcements
3:05 pm – 3:55 pm Memories in MENA 1 (Pizzinato, Watson, Miller) - CHAIR: Watson
Museo internazionale della Marionetta (Visit and Show: Download show synopsis)

Saturday, June 15

8:00 am – 8:20 am Last Chance to Register
8:20 am – 9:10 am Feasts in the Mediterranean (Tagliaferri, Hafez, Lloyd) – CHAIR: Hafez
9:20 am – 10:00 am Mediterranean Foods on TV (Russi, Muscio) – CHAIR: Pezzotti
10:10 am – 11:45 am Mediterranean Community and Sustainability (Echeverria, Garmaz, Cayli Messina, Donnelly, Krtic) – CHAIR: Cayli Messina
12:00 pm – 12:40 pm Memories in MENA 2 (Broilo, Al Saadi) – CHAIR: Pollicino
3:00 pm – 3:10 pm Announcements
3:10 pm – 4:15 pm Adriatic Diets (Buhin, Barisic, Stefanec, Novosel) – CHAIR: Boll
4:25 pm – 5:15 pm Hospitality: A Paradigm of Mediterranean Democracy (Cecere, Bilotti, Paulizzi) – CHAIR: Paulizzi
5:20 pm Concluding Remarks by Prof. Vincenzo Militello – Reception to Follow

Sunday, June 16

10:00 am – 12:30 pm Meeting at Moltivolti (Visit and Lunch)
12:30 pm Farewell by Drs. Pollicino and Summerfield


Prof. Zdenko Krtic’s art exhibit from 13 June to 16 June (PUBLIC CLOSING 16 June) at Moltivolti, a wonderful space that facilitates multi-cultural initiatives.



Symposium Fee is 180€ for faculty members; 95€ for graduate students and includes (full face-to-face participation):

  • Program instruction and materials;
  • Symposium facilities with staff support; 
  • Walking city tour, with food tasting, with local guides;
  • Cultural activities and coffee breaks;
  • Closing meeting and lunch at Moltivolti, Palermo


Conference Organizing Committee

Paolo Militello (University of Catania)

Vincenzo Militello (University of Palermo)

Rosario Pollicino (University of South Carolina, Columbia)

Giovanna Summerfield (Auburn University)