The politics of food in Italy from liberalism to fascism / by Carol F. Helstosky
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This dissertation is a history of food politics in wartime and interwar Italy, years in which both liberal and fascist regimes structured food policies to meet the claims of popular welfare, preparation for war, and the economic health of the nation. Through an examination of policy history and the development of scientific, economic, and domestic discourses about food consumption, this study argues that increased state intervention through food policies both reflected and shaped a broader politics of food in twentieth century Italy. Food politics are defined as the debates and significant interactions between the state, agriculturalists, scientists, doctors, housewives, and consumers revolving around questions of responsibility for adequate food consumption levels. This study traces the history of these debates in an effort to demonstrate how food politics were critical to understanding the crises and failures of liberal and fascist governance. This study is also a discussion of the ongoing debate over which foods should be defined as healthy or appropriate for different sectors of the population, as well as which criteria, scientific or political, were used to define health through food consumption. Lastly, this dissertation is a study of actual consumption habits. Uneven economic development and the effects of policy decisions often prevented a more dramatic transformation of the Italian diet. Shifts in consumption patterns occurred very slowly and depended on regional, class and gender-based differentials within the population. By taking Italy as a case study, this dissertation challenges and nuances previous findings in this history of food which suppose a norm of dietary development in accordance with economic modernization. The Italian case, precisely because modernization was such an uneven process, highlights the political contexts of dietary change.
Record last modified: 2018-05-22 11:47:00
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