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This session will be comprised of two papers.


Julie Fitzpatrick (Royal Holloway, University of London):
‘Light the Candles and Lay the Table’: A Study on German-Jewish Women’s Relationship with Food During the Prewar, Wartime and Postwar Eras
We are what we eat. As such, the history of what we eat – and how we eat – touches on the basic fundamentals of the human condition. What does this look like in a period of intense food paucity, persecution and mass migration? This paper seeks to answer these questions. New food technologies, treats from delicatessens and exotic imports had supplemented the well-rounded cuisine of many (bourgeoise) Jewish households in the twentieth-century and the paper comments on the shifting relationships bourgeois women had with food. However, the political changes of the 1930s caused a great schism to the way Jews could live their lives. Kosher butchering was banned, shopping lists became sparser and the home – notably the kitchen and the dinner table – became sanctuaries away from public hostility. German-Jews’ capital changed during the Holocaust. Hunger and starvation were experienced in the ghettos and camps and a revision and reimagining of food had to take place to negate the forces of rupture. Many decisions were also made to move out of Germany. Those who emigrated negotiated new foodways in a milieu where wartime rationing, language barriers and cultural differences added complex layers to the experience of hosts’ foodscapes. The study elevates the most routine but ordinary features of daily life in a way that sheds light on the identity politics, class distinctions, transnationalism and gendered experience of German Jews. The paper argues that food and its associated cultures were a key part of a German-Jewish woman’s toolkit during this turbulent epoch. 


Rebekah Hodge (NYU):
The Weaponization of Food in France, 1939-1949
Throughout the course of World War II more than 20 million people were killed by starvation. Food became the most lethal and most effective weapon of the war, killing more by starvation than by combat. Starvation was not an accidental by-product of the war, it was an intentional, directed, and effective weapon used by both the Allies and the Axis powers to control, destroy, and eliminate populations. Examining government records, personal accounts and news publications, this research makes sense of how and why food was weaponized and argues that far more people can be added to the ranks of those killed by starvation when understanding the impact of hunger on an individual. These intentional actions continue to be used today and understanding their historical uses will allow us to prevent the weaponization of food in the future.


All welcome - This event is free, but booking is required.