Feeding the body, feeding a sense of cultural belonging. Needs in the context of vulnerability and normability

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The research presented here sought to investigate the details of the life stories of certain needy individuals by considering their consumption of food. Although these individuals find themselves in challenging circumstances, as evidenced by their use of structures and services for the poor, in reality they have very diverse trajectories. Some find themselves in a situation of poverty with no prospect of escape, above all in the case of old people and pensioners without family networks and with no income other than the basic pension; in others, poverty is the result of a temporary crisis caused by serious problems related to health, work, bereavement, geographic mobility and so on, or because of an accumulation of negative events. For some, those with more resources, there are pathways to recovery and a return to ‘normality’, while others face the prospect of remaining in a state of need. Indeed, during the field research in Milan and Bologna, the fluidity of the boundaries between a state of need and forms of normality surfaced repeatedly, making the reassuring line between poverty and non-poverty appear far more changeable and at times unrecognizable. However, one fact emerges that unites everyone, rich and poor, Italian and foreigner: the value of food in daily life as an indissoluble link with one’s homeland, and with one’s individual and family history. Through cooking, the preparation of food, the use of traditional pots and pans, the eating of festive and holiday meals, people taste once again a sense of self and of their own history, often in the face of very difficult conditions which, however, never reduce the practice of eating to a merely instrumental or bodily process.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteThrough the Convivium. Food and Nutrition between Needs and Cultures
EditorZoboli R. Botturi F.
Numero di pagine13
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2015


  • Food
  • Poverty


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