Matters of taste : the politics of food and hunger in divided Germany, 1945-1971 / by Alice Autumn Weinreb.
"Matters of Taste: The Politics of Food and Hunger in Divided Germany 1945-1971" traces the political and cultural economy of food in East and West Germany during the first two postwar decades. By using food as its primary lens of analysis, the dissertation develops a new analytical and methodological approach to modern German and Cold War history. It does so by exploring the ways in which food concerns and hunger fantasies determined the trajectory of the two postwar German states. This approach reveals the interconnectedness of the GDR and the FRG and challenges many of the chronological and geographic divisions that have defined twentieth century German historiography. It also highlights the ways in which ideas of gender, nation and race, particularly the categories of Slavs and of Jews, were implicated in the everyday food practices of the populations of the two German states.The postwar era followed a war whose scale and impact were measured in terms of food lost and people starved. This was a time when the recognition of the global ramifications of hunger ensured that postwar reconstruction efforts centered on nutrition and food distribution. Allied attempts to resolve the food crisis in occupied Germany was one of the opening acts of the Cold War, and made the divided country a crucial stage for the development of an international food economy that incorporated issues as diverse as agricultural policy, global food aid and societal models of gender relations. "Matters of Taste" shows how ideas of cooking, shopping, eating and feeding others were central to postwar definitions of modernity, communism, capitalism, and democracy. The study offers the first in-depth comparative analysis of mass feeding programs in the GDR and the FRG, focusing on school lunches and workplace canteens. It shows how economic, family and social structures were constructed literally and figuratively through public and private eating patterns. In addition, this dissertation argues that hunger defined German memory of the past—of the two World Wars, the Third Reich and the Holocaust, and the postwar occupation—as well as determining the contours of the Cold War division of the country.
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