Vice-Chancellor of Tours University
Over the past fifteen or so years, Tours University has placed analysis of food by the humanities and social sciences at the heart of its research policy and academic identity. We are delighted to have worked alongside the IEHCA from the outset, which now brings together a large number of actors in the city of Tours, the surrounding area, and the entire Centre-Val de Loire region. The crowning moment in this long-term cooperation was the inauguration of the Villa Rabelais, Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie in 2016. But that is merely the latest stage, and the best is yet to come.
The role played by researchers from the Food Studies Center at the Villa Rabelais is the logical extension of the ongoing cooperation between Tours University and the IEHCA. The emergence of this center demonstrates our lasting commitment to advancing this field of study. It brings together researchers interested by the phenomenon of food from various disciplines: history, sociology, anthropology, literature, law, economics, psychology, biology, medicine, and so on. The goal is to encourage multi-and cross-disciplinary approaches, a frequently invoked yet rarely achieved objective. Tours University is happy to play a role in this burgeoning ecosystem, acting as an incubator for ideas and joint projects with the IEHCA. These synergy-driven projects have generated countless successful initiatives over the past two decades, and will continue to boost the renown of all those who, like Tours University, have risen to the challenge of seeing food, gastronomy, and cuisine as topics of intellectual and cultural value fully worth of academic research.
Chair of the IEHCA
In a little over fifteen years the IEHCA has established itself as a key actor in Food Studies. This is true internationally, with a network of over 400 researchers, 11 themed conferences overseen by a research committee, and 15 summer schools, as well as the publication of 28 issues of its Food & History journal. It is also true nationally, with the Rencontres François Rabelais (now in their 13th year), and its support forthe Tables des Hommes collection, which has just brought out its 32nd title. The list of achievements is impressive, and keeps on expanding. Our latest initiative, the International Conferences on Food History and Cultures have brought together hundreds of researchers from 28 countries worldwide.
Our fundamental calling at the IEHCA is to marry dynamic research to society's desire to understand and control its nutrition. To this end we have been able to draw on the unflagging help and support of our faithful partners, Tours University and the Centre-Val de Loire Region. The move to the wonderful Villa Rabelais on January 1, 2017 opens up new prospects and new fields, as part of the larger "Tours, International City of Gastronomy in the Loire Valley" initiative. I wish to thank the team of five permanent staff who, working under Francis Chevrier’s oversight, have made the IEHCA such a success.
IEHCA Founder and Director
The European Institute for Food History and Cultures, set up in 2001 by the French Ministry for Higher Education and Research, is a scientific development agency with two objectives. First, to encourage university teaching and research into "food cultures and heritage", i.e. analyzing and explaining food through the prism of the humanities and social sciences. Second, to help Tours University position itself as a center of European excellence in this field.
The network currently has over 400 affiliate researchers contributing to the many activities we have initiated. We are working to set up a veritable "University of the Gastronomic Sciences", something which is cruelly missing in France, and which would benefit the country by promoting its exceptional heritage, a component of its cultural and economic wealth. In 2010 the IEHCA obtained UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage listing for French gastronomy. It is our duty to ensure that this unparalleled treasure acts as a powerful asset for our economic well-being and development. I wish to extend my warm and sincere thanks to all those who have contributed to the success of our undertaking.
Chair of the IEHCA Research Committee
Eating is the most ordinary and essential of actions. However, understanding the conditions prevailing over this act, whatever form it takes, necessarily involves identifying and understanding a set of issues pertaining to all the disciplines in the social sciences, natural sciences, and life sciences. The 400 researchers in IEHCA’s international network analyze the "social sciences" aspect, on the basis of an open research policy in tune with the major trends in Food Studies research, a very active field in academia worldwide.
To this end they launch, foster, and support all initiatives to conduct research and disseminate results pertaining to food issues.
The IEHCA and its academic experts, who have pioneered this field for over fifteen years, will now be pursuing this fascinating endeavor in cooperation with Tours University and the Cité de la Gastronomie, demonstrating, if proof be needed, that cookery, dining, and nutritional behavior are key factors shaping human activity.