Jane Levi (UK) is an academic and researcher committed to using food as a lens through which to examine utopian ideas and movements, past and present. Her research about food and utopian thinking ranges from the mid-seventeenth century Diggers, via the twentieth century counterculture and plans for space colonies, to the detailed ‘gastrosophic’ vision of Charles Fourier in the early nineteenth century. Her work reveals the sometimes surprising resonances between past and present concerns about our food systems. Through Levi’s research, analysis, and teaching she aims to enrich our understanding of current agricultural and consumption-related movements and consider possible futures for our food systems, encompassing growing, cooking, eating, conviviality and waste
As well as writing and thinking about food, Levi is an amateur but competent cook. Part of her practice includes the reconstruction of historical recipes and the use of these to enrich our understanding of the taste, aesthetics and social expectations of the groups she researches. Her ‘Tasting the Past’ sessions for the RCA and Society of Design Historians (amongst others ) have introduced cultural practitioners to the deeper possibilities in the use of text, image, ingredients and the senses to evoke the tastes and experiences of the past and present.
As well as collaborating with other participants in the Delfina Politics of Food season, in 2016 Levi is working on an exhibition about the food of foundling children, 1750-1950, for The Foundling Museum, London. Feeding the 400 will open at the museum on 23rd September 2016. She is also collaborating with a team of artists on Edible Utopia, a project beginning its life as part of King’s Cultural Institute and Somerset House’s year of Utopia 2016. A visiting research fellow in the history department at King’s College London, she lives at Bankside, London and writes occasional blog pieces for her local market, Borough. Links to her publications can be found at her website, silphiumfood.com.