Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

Convivium, the human essence of alimentation - issue#2

The results of a multidisciplinary project conceived for Expo Milano 2015 distributed as a freely accessible e-book.

Sitting at the same table, each and everyone with one’s own knowledge, experiences, inclinations. The concept of conviviality inherently entails that of difference and inspires "Through the Convivium", a project which represents one of the first initiatives promoted by UCSC in order to support Expo 2015, providing a high qualified contribution.

“We adopted in inductive method,” explained Francesco Botturi, Full Professor of Moral Philosophy at UCSC Milan, who is also one of the curators of the project, “that is to say, we hadn’t a prearranged project, but rather we took advantage of the knowledge connected to alimentation and food that were already available in the frame of UCSC, under any possible disciplinary light. We soon realized that such topics have been studied for long in the realm of different scientific fields, so we planned an initiative to coordinate all these contributions. The first result has been a committee composed of various members belonging to various areas within the Humanities (philosophy, antiquity studies, art history), pedagogy, psychology, social sciences, law, and economics. Within such group we decided to focus on the idea of convivium, which was put at the center of different research seminars and became the main topic of a symposium.”

Francesco Botturi and Roberto Zoboli, Full Professor of Economic Policy  edited an e-book entitled “Through the Convivium. Food and Nutrition between Needs and Cultures,” published both in Italian and in English. The volume is now available for download on the publisher’s website.

The choice of convivium as basic category is due to the need to find “the most suitable notion to fully describe alimentation as a human act,” claimed Botturi. “Insofar as we talk about food, nutrition, alimentation we do not mention anything specifically human, but if we talk about ‘table’ and banquet indeed we do refer to something human. Adopting a metonymic strategy, the term convivium expresses the wholeness of human alimentation, including specifications such as banquet, symposium, etc. Conviviality is an exclusively human phenomenon, for animals can at the very least banquet as a herd of predators. On the contrary, convivium implies that the most complete and thus paradigmatic form of alimentation is essentially connected to a communitarian way of life: it is a dense act of coexistence which, in turn, produces coexistence.”

Coexistence represents therefore the first basic paradigm to which that of hospitality has to be coupled. “The latter synthesizes the relational dimension of man, including gratuity and the sacral. This is the reason why convivium and hospitality have always stood for models of a communitarian way of life and for the mythic, eschatological, utopic symbols of a peaceful coexistence, as well as of an ultimate and successful human condition.”

The book focuses the idea of convivium so to highlight its social, educational, artistic, economic dimensions. This is possible using different disciplinary perspectives, ranging from the philosophical, theological, historical and cultural one, to that informed by communication studies, behavioral psychology, educational science, social sciences and economy.

The focus on convivium is part of a wider project developed by ExpoLAB - the structure created to support UCSC in its contribution to the activities revolving around Expo 2015. In particular, ExpoLAB aims at releasing initiatives planned according to a broad and multifaceted perspective that are taking place over the six-month duration of Expo; among them there is a research project dealing with the scientific and technic profiles created for a “cocoa” cluster presented in the common area at Expo.

As Botturi explains, “ExpoLAB produces a two-fold contribution, in that it deals with both information and training regarding the issues about food, in the attempt to keep the resulting debate to a high level in scientific terms, as well as in underscoring the anthropological insight lying beyond the main topic of Expo. I believe this also represents the core of an ethics of information devoted to these issues.”

Expo surely stimulated a fruitful connection among knowledge of different sorts, institutions, and authorities that – hopefully enough – will not be abandoned after the event: “the way in which such perspective may be kept alive and fed represents an open question, possibly resembling the destiny of the Expo exhibition area itself,” concludes Botturi. “A transdisciplinary approach as the one innervating ExpoLAB is stronger and stronger, and represents nowadays one of the main essential conditions enabling research to really grasp its object of study.”

Further information on:

http://www.vitaepensiero.it/scheda-ebook/autori-vari/attraverso-il-convivio-cibo-e-alimentazione-tra-bisogni-e-culture-9788834328217-230611.html

RESEARCHERS INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT:

Mauro Bertolotti, Research Assistant, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Cristina Birbes, Researcher in General and Social Pedagogy, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Brescia

Francesco Botturi, Full Professor of Moral Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Cristina Castelli, Former Full Professor of Lifespan Psychology, Faculty of Educational Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Patrizia Catellani, Full Professor of Social Psychology and Political Psychology, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Department of Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Fausto Colombo, Full Professor of Theory and Techniques of Media, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences and Director of the Department of Communication and Performing Arts, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Piero Conforti, Senior Statistician (Economist), Statistics Division Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome

Adriano D’Aloia, PhD, Postdoctoral fellow in Cinema, Photography and Television, Department of Communication and Performing Arts, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Cecilia De Carli, Associate Professor of Contemporary Art History, Faculty of Educational Sciences, and Director of CREA, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Erica Fraschini, PhD in Pedagogy of the Artistic Heritage, Researcher assistant at CREA, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Patrizia Galeri, Lecturer in Education and Sustainability, Master Course on Human Development and Environment, ASA - Postgraduate School for Environmental Studies, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Brescia

Paola Garrone, Full Professor of Economics of Network Industries, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

Lucia Gasparini, PhD in Museology and Contemporary Art History, Research assistant at CREA, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Carla Lunghi, Researcher in Sociology of Cultural and Communication Processes, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Giuliana Malaguti, Supply Area Manager, Fondazione Banco Alimentare ONLUS, Milan

Pierluigi Malavasi, Full Professor of General and Social Pedagogy, Faculty of Educational Sciences, and Director of ASA - Postgraduate School for Environmental Studies, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Brescia

Grazia Maria Massone, Coordinator of the Master in Educational Services for the artistic heritage of historical museums and visual arts, and Member of the Scientific Committee of CREA, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Giuseppe Mastromatteo, Professor of Economic Policy, Faculty of Economics, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Elisabetta Matelli, Researcher in Classical Philology and Coordinator of the Workshop on Ancient Dramaturgy, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Sara Meda, Adjunct Professor of Contemporary Art History, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Research associate at CREA, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Marco Melacini, Assistant Professor of Modelling Logistics and Production Systems, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

Alessandro Perego, Full Professor of Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Department of Management, Economics and Industrial Engineering, Politecnico di Milano

Laura Polo D’Ambrosio, Teacher of History of Art, Liceo classico ‘A. Manzoni’ in Lecco and Research assistant at CREA, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Franco Riva, Professor of Social Ethics, Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Dialogue, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Marta Rivolta, PhD in Developmental Psychology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Giancarlo Rovati, Full Professor of General Sociology, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Director of the Department of Sociology, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Luciano Venturini, Full Professor of Economics, School of Law, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Raffaella Viccei, PhD in Archaeology of Transformation Processes, Teaching Assistant for the Course of History of Greek and Latin Theatre, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan

Roberto Vignolo, Lecturer of Exegesis and Biblical Theology, Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Settentrionale, Milan

Roberto Zoboli, Full Professor of Economic Policy, Faculty of Political and Social Sciences, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan