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KL: Mary Neuburger: Meat Unpacked: Global Protein Narratives and the Making of a 20th century Bulgarian Bio-imaginary

When Dec 03, 2019
from 06:00 to 08:00
Where Phil I, GCSC, R.001
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 641 / 99-30 053
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Main Research Interests: Consumption, Material Culture, Identities, History­­­ of Science and Religion

 

This talk will explore the place of meat within the larger framework of global encounters between East and West, before and during the Cold War.  It will explore evolving connections (imagined and real) of meat—its mass production and regular consumption—to progress, and more pointedly, political and economic power. Consumption of meat expanded exponentially in the US, Europe and globally particularly after World War II, reflecting changes in commerce and taste, but also given new assumptions about the role of protein in twentieth century development narratives. Influential writings and polices grounded in the scientific community and international organizations like the League of Nations, the United Nations, the Food and Agriculture Organization, and the World Health Organization posited that a lack of animal protein in “national” diets was both the cause and the effect of underdevelopment, which was tantamount to “hidden hunger” and even a global “protein crisis”. ­ As the talk will explore, however, such notions competed with global counter-narratives grounded in bio-ethics, biopolitics, religious practice, and/or differing opinions within food science. Using the capacious concept of the bio-imaginary, I will explore how such narratives were appropriated and deflected in the course of 20th century Bulgarian history, before and under socialism. Bulgarians appropriated both pro- and anti-meat assumptions from global religious, scientific, and policy-minded thinkers. They also domesticated and contributed to this global conversation and set of practices in a range of locally grounded ways. This took on particular forms under socialism, when Soviet-dictated food ideology required an embrace of meat—as fortification for the socialist body, as well as nutritional and gastronomic proof of the superiority of the system’s utopian promise. Even then, anti-meat narratives emerged as part of the Bulgarian “thaw”.

 


// Prof. Mary Neuburger (The University of Texas at Austin)



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