Food as a Lens for Studying the Baltic Region

Oct 30, 2012

In August 2012, scholars gathered together at the Institute of History of Tallinn University for a two-day conference entitled “Turning Points in Baltic and Central East European Food History: Knowledge, Consumption, and Production in Changing Environments.” This first conference on interdisciplinary Baltic food studies and history attracted participants from across Europe, and from as far as North America (Canada). Over 20 papers and posters were presented, all of them focusing on food as a lens for studying broader processes, from regional integration through trade to the politics of heritage preservation. As the theme of the conference suggests, history is filled with turning points, when food-related practices are challenged, transformed, and invested with new meaning. Thus, this gathering of scholars in Tallinn marks in itself another turning point in Baltic food history giving a positive impulse on further research. Following the conference, participants created a listserv as a forum for communication between scholars involved in the emerging field of ‘Baltic Food Studies.’

The conference was organized by The Estonian Center for Environmental History, financed by the Estonian Science Foundation, The Under and Tuglas Literature Center of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, and the Institute of History, in cooperation with The Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe at Marburg.

Conference report by AABS member Renata Blumberg, University of Minnesota