Tasting the past, or the fallacy of historical accuracy – Marieke M.A. Hendriksen (Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences)

November 22, 2021 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Olin Moctezuma

The material turn in the history of science has led scholars to successfully study the past through new methods, such as object-driven and performative research, including the reconstruction and analysis of historical recipes. Reconstructions in the history of science are a restaging of historical experiences rather than replications; they help us access and understand historical embodied and sensory knowledge embedded in texts and materiality. Yet the ‘ephemeral’ sense of taste is often still perceived as too subjective and thus difficult and problematic to study historically, and the supposed importance of historical accuracy is used as an argument to dismiss the use performative methods more generally. In a new project, I challenge these contentions, meanwhile contributing to new standards to study historical taste with performative methods. In this talk I will explore how we can surpass the fallacy of historical accuracy to successfully use performative methods, and in particular taste reconstructions, to study the past.

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