This introduction examines how food and foodways were used in Russia and in the Communist Bloc nations of Eastern and Central Europe as a means of envisioning and implementing the idea of a utopian future in the here and now. In the case of Russia, food imagery had been utilized in nineteenth-century literature to imagine the ideal community, which became a political and economic necessity after the October Revolution of 1917. Loudly proclaimed ideals of modernity and progress required tangible results, such as an abundance of cheap and healthy food. Local variants of this followed the spread of Soviet influence to Eastern Europe after World War II. Here new foodways and technologies were likewise introduced in order to create the “dreamworlds” of the future. The fall of communism (1989–91) brought about the need to reimagine culinary landscapes, both as a critique of socialism and—later—as a response to twenty-first-century globalization and homogenization.
Introduction: From Revolution to Globalization: Foodways in Russia and East-Central Europe
Mary Neuburger is Professor of History, the Director of the Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies (CREEES), and the Chair of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas of Austin. She is the author of The Orient Within: Muslim Minorities and the Negotiation of Nationhood in Modern Bulgaria (Cornell University Press, 2004) and Balkan Smoke: Tobacco and the Making of Modern Bulgaria (Cornell University Press, 2012). Neuburger is also co-editor with Paulina Bren of Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe (Oxford University Press, 2012) and has authored numerous articles on Bulgarian history on topics ranging from gender and material culture to ethnic identity, consumption, and more recently food. She is currently co-editor with Dr. Richard Evans of the Journal of Contemporary History.
Keith Livers is Associate Professor of Russian at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches Russian literature (nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first century), culture, and cinema, and he is currently finishing a monograph on the uses of conspiracy rhetoric in contemporary Russian pop culture and political discourse.
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Mary Neuburger, Keith Livers; Introduction: From Revolution to Globalization: Foodways in Russia and East-Central Europe. Gastronomica 1 November 2017; 17 (4): 1–8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2017.17.4.1
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