Food and Everyday Life in the Postsocialist World

Food and Everyday Life in the Postsocialist World

Afterword by Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, foreword by Marion Nestle, edited by Melissa L. Caldwell
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/19/2009
Format: Paperback 15 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-22139-1
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Across the Soviet Union and eastern Europe during the socialist period, food emerged as a symbol of both the successes and failures of socialist ideals of progress, equality, and modernity. By the late 1980s, the arrival of McDonald’s behind the Iron Curtain epitomized the changes that swept across the socialist world. Not quite two decades later, the effects of these arrivals were evident in the spread of foreign food corporations and their integration into local communities. This book explores the role played by food—as commodity, symbol, and sustenance—in the transformation of life in Russia and eastern Europe since the end of socialism. Changes in food production systems, consumption patterns, food safety, and ideas about health, well-being, nationalism, and history provide useful perspectives on the meaning of the postsocialist transition for those who lived through it.

Author Bio

Melissa L. Caldwell is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is author of Not by Bread Alone: Social Support in the New Russia and editor (with James L. Watson) of The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating.


“Providing useful perspectives, the book explores the role played by food—as commodity, symbol, and sustenance—in the transformation of life in Russia and Eastern Europe since the end of socialism.”

“Food under the repressive Soviet regimes may have been scarce, but at least some survivors of the earlier regime considered it delicious, natural, and healthful. In contrast, while the new Europeanized food may be abundant, many find it artificial and tasteless. As food systems become even more globalized, and more and more developing countries undergo food transitions, the issues discussed in this book become even more widely applicable.”
 — from the foreword

“Food and Everyday Life in the Post-Socialist World is a significant contribution to the field of food studies and to the anthropology of post-socialism. ”
 — Anthropology of East Europe Review

“Food and Everyday Life in the Post-Socialist World is an important contribution and should be of great interest to policymakers and regulatory bodies, as well as students and researchers.Vol. 70.2 Summer 2011”
 — Slavic Review

“No advanced students or scholars of the social sciences concerned with globalizing topics and post-socialist states should miss the opportunity to examine this book. . . . We are fortunate to have such a worthy contribution to food studies and Eurasian anthropology.Vol. 70.2, April 2011”
 — The Russian Review

“By illuminating the ways in which people previously living under state socialism have variously responded to new food markets and regulatory regimes, this volume constitutes an important contribution to post-socialist studies and to the anthropology of food.#16 2010”
 — Jakob A. Klein , School of Oriental and African Studies

“The authors of Food and Everyday Life provide a text that is rich in historical and cultural context and that examines the interactions of the regular people of the old Soviet states in ways that are convincing, thorough, and otherwise mind-blowing. Winter/Spring 2010”
 — Counterpoise

“[This] book is thought-provoking, a pleasure to read, and an important contribution to studies of the globalization of postsocialist states and to food studies. 47.1 2013”
 — Canadian-American Slavic Studies

“Taking us from Moscow coffeehouses to the practice of pickling vegetables in the kitchens of urban Sofia, the authors each employ the ethnography of the mundane to question not only ideal-type models of 'transition', but also the hegemony of novel, neoliberal forms of governance. This is anthropology at its best, combining the rich, 'thick description' of the everyday concerns of ordinary citizens with a rigorous treatment of issues of power, policy and social inequality.”
 — Slavonica

“[E]ach essay in this collection is exceptionally well written and thoroughly researched. In its unique look at how food practices have reflected and responded to the transition from the socialist past to the capitalist present, this collection provides a valuable contribution to the ongoing academic debates about the Europeanization and globalization of the countries of the former Soviet bloc. ”
 — Slavic and East European Journal

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Table of Contents

Foreword / Marion Nestle

Introduction: Food and Everyday Life after State Socialism / Melissa L. Caldwell
1. From Canned Food to Canny Consumers: Cultural Competence in the Age of Mechanical Production / Yuson Jung
2. The Tale of the Toxic Paprika: The Hungarian Taste of Euro-Globalization / Zsuzsa Gille
3. Self-Made Women: Informal Dairy Markets in Europeanizing Lithuania / Diana Mincyte
4. Tempest in a Coffee Pot: Brewing Incivility in Russia's Public Sphere / Melissa L. Caldwell
5. The Geopolitics of Taste: The "Euro" and "Soviet" Sausage Industries in Lithuania / Neringa Klumbyt<e,DOT>
6. A Celebration of Masterstvo: Professional Cooking, Culinary Art, and Cultural Production in Russia / Stas Shectman
7. The Social and Gendered Lives of Vodka in Rural Siberia / Katherine Metzo
Afterword. Turnips and Mangos: Power and the Edible State in Eastern Europe / Elizabeth C. Dunn

List of Contributors

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