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You are here Research > FoodCult Food, Culture and Identity in Ireland

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Food, Culture and Identity in Ireland (FOODCULT) is a major 5 Year ERC funded project, hosted by the School of Histories and Humanities in collaboration with the ADAPT Centre at TCD.
It is the first major project to establish both the fundamentals of everyday diet, and the cultural ‘meaning’ of food and drink, in early modern Ireland. Exploring the period 1550-1650, one of major economic development, unprecedented intercultural contact, but also of conquest, colonisation and war, it focusses on Ireland as a case-study for understanding the role of food in the demonstration and negotiation of authority and power, and as a site for the development of emergent ‘national’ food cultures. Moving well beyond the colonial narrative of Irish social and economic development, however, it enlarges the study of food and identity to examine neglected themes in Irish historiography, including gender, class, kinship and religious identities, as expressed through the consumption and exchange of food and drink.

Taking advantage of exciting recent archaeological discoveries and the increased accessibility of the archaeological evidence, the legacy of the so called ‘Celtic tiger’, the project develops a ground-breaking interdisciplinary approach, merging micro-historical analytical techniques with cutting edge science and experimental archaeology, to examine what was eaten, where, why and by whom, at a level of detail previously deemed impossible for this period in Irish history. Such questions will be explored in a comparative British Isles context, situating Irish developments within a broader analytical framework, whilst also moving English food historiography beyond its current insular focus.

As a corollary to this research, the project will produce the first major database of diet-related archaeological evidence for this period Mapping Diet: Comparative Foodways in Early Modern Ireland, in addition to making accessible the only existing household and institutional accounts, a hugely significant, and previously overlooked, quantitative and qualitative source for dietary trends.
Together, these resources will shed light, not just on consumption patterns, but on Ireland’s broader economic and social development, whilst significantly furthering research agendas in early modern historical and archaeological scholarship.The project will lead to unparalleled cooperation and collaboration across the sciences, humanities and heritage sectors in Ireland, and by nature of the broader popularity and accessibility of food as a theme, will deliver extensive opportunities for public engagement and outreach.

The project brings together academics from numerous disciplines and institutions including:
Dr Susan Flavin PI (History, TCD); Dr Séamus Lawless (Computer Science, ADAPT Centre TCD); Dr Meriel McClatchie (Environmental Archaeology, UCD); Prof Janet Montgomery (Human Isotope Analysis, Durham University); Dr Julie Dunne (Organic Residue Analysis, University of Bristol); Dr Fiona Beglane (Zooarchaeology, CERIS IT Sligo) and Dr Shreepali Patel (Film Director, Anglia Ruskin University)

Project Website

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