|"He who forgets the past is destined to repeat it."
This dictum was the last resort of a frustrated history teacher when I was a high school student in New York. As an anthropologist I have been interested in the meaning of the past for the "present" in different cultures, especially growing up in the United States where the very phrase "that's history" means "it's over... finished"... no longer relevant to the present.
the past 18 years I have been conducting research on the Greek island
of Kalymnos in the Eastern Aegean Sea. I have been intererested in questions
of memory, history, and the relevance of the past in people's everyday
lives. I am investigating the way memory is created in rituals such as
dynamite throwing at Easter.
I am curious about the custom of naming of babies after their grandparents
on the island. I have also been investigating the role of memory in the
fostering and the defusing of violent conflict.
The painting shown here (top left), done by Ioannis Roditis, my friend and "second father", depicts the traditional gift of bread taken by Kalymnian daughters-in-law to remember their mothers-in-law on feast days. How do you remember through taste and smell? Such considerations form part of my recently published Remembrance of Repasts: an Anthropology of Food and Memory, where I consider global flows of food (as both gifts and as commodities), the rise of restaurants, and the relationship of orally transmitted recipes to the vast market in specialty cookbooks, and the implications of these changes for our capacity to store the past in our meals -- in the smell of olive oil or the taste of a fresh-cut fig.
Here is an excerpt from the introduction, to give a bit of a flavor of my interest in food and memory:
My interests in research and teaching are diverse, and reflected on this website. Most recently I have begun to explore questions of food, nostalgia and identity in United States popular culture, as evidenced in such movies as The Godfather. Or as Clemenza put it: "Leave the gun...Take the Cannoli."