Expo Milano, the 2015 World Fair, promised visitors an experience that would change how we imagine feeding the planet in the generations to come. Dozens of nations constructed monumental pavilions and spectacles, creating a Disneyland-like environment of cleverly concealed technologies and mass entertainment. For the 20 million people who came to play at social justice or sample bites of sustainability, what did Expo Milano really offer? What questions were asked, what experiences created, and what did visitors leave with at the end of the day? This article critiques the event for its profit-based design and logics, depicting a theme park simulacrum that gave visitors a high tech but empty-handed role in thinking or doing foodways differently. In addition to examining Expo Milano's shortcomings, I also point to the kinds of innovations and interactions that might allow us to imagine a more dynamic—and challenging—future of food.
Expo Milano: Capitalist Dreams and Eating Machines
Rebecca Feinberg is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her research and teaching highlight the importance of immigrant labor in food systems, mapping the assemblages of people, places, and projects that come together to make a bottle of wine in Italy or a restaurant meal in California. Whether harvesting wine grapes or leading students through outdoor markets, she is always interested in getting to know the hands that feed us.
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Rebecca Feinberg; Expo Milano: Capitalist Dreams and Eating Machines. Gastronomica 1 November 2016; 16 (4): 27–32. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2016.16.4.27
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