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The @gloknoscentre Open Knowledge Summer School on the Science & Politics of Food in Human History is underway @CRASSHlive, w/ Assyriologist Marie-F Besnier’s first session on Ancient Mesopotamian agriculture — and some early examples of how it shaped Sumerian cuneiform writing.
Marie has now deployed her @EsagilGames The Irrigation Game, or how to lead your village through the Sumerian agricultural year. A brilliant way to grasp the infrastructural, practical, and legal dimensions of the Mesopotamian model of ‘large scale artificial irrigation’.
Third session w/ Martin Jones: exploring human diet from prehistoric to genetically modified crops. Of 10,000 species known to have been collected, named, & eaten by humans, the Big 3 (wheat, rice, maize) constitute half our diet today & greatest focus of our scientific knowledge
The genetic maps of the globalisation of crops and of regional culinary tastes shows the latter to be more conservative than genetic changes in domesticated crops. Sticky rice varieties travelling west have the sticky gene switched off.
‘What about risotto?’, asks one of our students — good question!
Next session: examining some specimens from Martin’s global collection:
Capturing the differences and relations of varieties of wheat: einkorn, emmer, spelt, and bread wheat:
Drawing these specimens now:
Felix @felicefrancesco covering Day 2 of @gloknoscentre Summer School on the Science & Politics of Food in Human History @FitzMuseum_UK w/ the curators of the Feast & Fast exhibition, Melissa Calaresu & Vicky Avery (AM) & food historian @LesleySteinitz (PM)
Summer school participant and journalist @KatiAuld also reporting from the @FitzMuseum_UK — there will be a wonderful conference on the Pineapple at @CRASSHlive this year organised by Melissa and Vicky.
Day 3 Line-up: @berytia on diffusion of agriculture, @HolmesMatthew99 on Mendelian genetics, Helen Curry on seed banks, and a game of @settlersofcatan @CropTrust scenario:
Afternoon session led by Anne Helen Curry of @CambridgeHPS on the history of seed keeping from farm fields to seed/gene banks.
Paradox of the ‘Green Revolution’: developing new, high-yielding varieties of crops that can spread in a wide range of environments, replacing local land races that reflect valuable crop genetic diversity. As these are kicked out of the fields, they start populating seed banks.
Alternatives to counter genetic erosion started in the 1970s include heirloom seed banks and seed exchange in the US, and seed savers exchange in the UK — e.g. @gardenorganicuk. Today: calls for reviving seed keeping by small farmers themselves — e.g. @via_campesina
Next up:
Getting started now
Many thanks again to @AsmodeeUK for their generous donation of two game sets. Settlement building, trading, and harvesting well underway now. I’m expecting the first @SvalbardVault deposit soon:
Getting ready for Day 4 of the @gloknoscentre Open Knowledge Summer School on the Science & Politics of Food in Human History @CRASSHlive w/ @shailajafennell, @tobysmithphoto, @PabloSalasB & @felicefrancesco.
And now @tobysmithphoto begins his talk on Photography and Farming, starting w/ the Great Depression ‘vernacular’ photographic project Stryker, Lange et al.) commissioned in the 1930s by the US Resettlement Administration (now the FSA) (& @BritishPathe movies on farming:
Fascinating discussion of how social media has redefined trends in vernacular photography & audiences’ engagement with images, sometimes independently of context/text, with an example from @NatGeo’s @instagram account. Insightful input from journalists @KatiAuld & @eileenwcho
Toby @tobysmithphoto introducing us to the beautiful collective project @wefeedtheworld_ and the bold work of @mathieuasselin — important contributions to documenting the world of farming and the agribusiness industry today. Check them out, you won’t regret it.
Toby @tobysmithphoto sharing his experience as a photographer supporting the public engagement mission of the @GCRF funded @TIGR2ESS project @GlobalFood_Camb @Cambridge_Uni, especially the challenges and ethical considerations involved in photographing farmers in India.
Invaluable reflections by @tobysmithphoto on shifting from photojournalism and the exoticising gaze involved in such approaches to ‘Global South’ societies, to working with researchers and focusing on conveying societal aspects of farmers’ life with intellectual integrity.
Afternoon session w/ @PabloSalasB of @CambridgeLandEc on the Food-Water-Energy nexus and the systems approach. We start with Sir John Beddington’s 2009 paper on the ‘Food, energy, water and the climate: A perfect storm of global events?’
Consolidation of the nexus approach vs the silos approach, since the 2011 Bonn conference, with climate now being considered across food, water, and energy in systemic and synergetic way. Mirrored in the UN’s sustainable development goals.
After an overview of some of the SDGs, @PabloSalasB moves on to some core insights from the IPCC’s last Report: some regions expected to be hit by water shortages in all modelled scenarios; & pattern of increase in land use in past 500 years with dramatic upward shift in 19C:
Brazil is an optimal illustrative case for the relevance of the nexus approach, and is addressed in the BRIDGE project funded by the @NewtonFund and led in collaboration between @Cambridge_Uni @Unisul_Univ and other partners:
Final seminar today @gloknoscentre @CRASSHlive by our own @felicefrancesco on Agriculture and the Politics of Global Security/Sovereignty/Solidarity:
Felix @felicefrancesco takes us through the context of the recent call for an African Green Revolution, a few days before the African Green Revolution Forum 2019 kicks off @TheAGRF
Alternative to the food security paradigm introduced in the 2007 Declaration of Nyéléni and the concept of ‘food sovereignty’ defined below:
Conceptual apparatus consolidated by @via_campesina w/ notion of peasants rights, now endorsed by @UN via its Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (2018). Interesting to analyse this success against predictions of social movement theories.
How to explain their success? Solidarity, argues @felicefrancesco. Involves a shared sense of direction & the protection of their particularity, & explains the ability to sustain the transnational cohesion of the project/group despite different national contexts of farmers.
Final leg of the @gloknoscentre Open Knowledge Summer School on the Science & Politics of Food in Human History: a tour and tasting session at @ChilfordHall Vineyard and Winery.
Our tour starts with a historical overview of changing practices and principles of vineyard management from the 1970s when @ChilfordHall was established (left pic) and the 2000s (right pic)
Given England’s geographic location there are currently two preferred options: use the cooler-climate-adapted German varieties of grapes or produce sparkling wine with second fermentation. 8 of 9 varieties grown at @ChilfordHall are German, the 9th is French. @felicefrancesco
Problem of how to name and market ‘English quality sparkling wine’ (the current technical description) in the absence of a Geographical Indicator such as Champagne — a problem that concerns even @TaittingerUK as they develop their production in Kent.
Now on to the French Pinot Noir, which ripens @ChilfordHall in September rather than August.
What made English harvests so successful last year was not the heatwave but ‘the beast from the East’ — providing a ‘proper winter’.
Interesting differences in how climate change is affecting French & Italian wine production versus English production — patterns are less predictable in the latter case, steady and challenging in the former. Greater opportunities are for China to seize in the near future.
Moving from the vineyard to the winery @ChilfordHall
Different processes and machines to make red (left) and white (right) wines:
The Prosecco method is cheaper than the Champagne method — @ChilfordHall uses the latter — and this is reflected in sales: of 270 million bottles of Prosecco sold annually in the world, the Brits buy 90 million ( for a population of 60m)...
Now on to the tasting session, starting with the Grantchester, made of the Ortega and Reichensteiner!
Wines 4 and 5: the Blush rosé and the Graduate sparkling. Also passed around: some corked wine. Although @ChilfordHall is keen to move entirely to screw caps, which is considered the best option, consumers, and many producers, still associate them with low quality wines.
A terrific end to 1st @gloknoscentre Summer School. Many thanks to the wonderful teaching team, to @SamanthaJPeel for superb organisation, @CRASSHlive for being a perfect home, @JesusCollegeCam for taking care of our students & @ERC_Research for making @artefactCRASSH possible.
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