A Labor of Love: Domestic Cooking as Authentic Labor in the German Democratic Republic

This presentation is from a book Alice Weinreb is currently working on: Matters of Taste, Food, War, and Germany in the Twentieth Century. This paper is based on a chapter on the way in which familial and gender roles were connected to domestic food consumption and production in Cold War divided Germany. It focuses on the ways in which German socialism negotiated the meaning of private, female cooking as something that was both productive labor and consumptive leisure. Scholarship on women’s work and food culture in the GDR has generally focused on shopping and the struggles of women to procure goods in a ‘scarcity society.’ East German nutritionists and social economists, however, were much more focused on cooking, rather than shopping, as the primary sort of ‘food labor.’ As a result, socialist ideology demanded a serious engagement with the relationship of home cooking to the national economy.  Cooking was crucial and productive (gendered) labor, but it at the same time was seen ‘counter-productive’ insofar as women’s cooking was by definition also ‘women not working’ in paid labor. Cooking thus threatened the proclaimed supremacy of industrial labor that the GDR officially venerated.

Alice Weinreb is Assistant Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago, where she teaches courses in twentieth-century Europe, the history and politics of food, the Holocaust, and European environmental history. She holds an MA in Cultural Studies from Humboldt University of Berlin and a PhD in German History from the University of Michigan. Weinreb’s articles have appeared in Central European History, German Studies Review, and Zeitschrift für Körpergeschichte, as well as being included in several anthologies. She is currently working on new projects on the postwar environmental movement in West Germany, as well as on the postwar history of anorexia nervosa. Professor Weinreb previously taught at Utah State University and at Northwestern University, where she was a founding member of the Chicago Area Food Studies Working Group (CAFS) based at University of Illinois-Chicago.

Presented by Alice Weinreb, PhD
Department of History, Loyola University Chicago

Saturday, June 28th, 2014 at 10 AM
Kendall College, School of Culinary Arts
900 N. North Branch Street, Chicago
(West of Halsted Street, North of Chicago Avenue)
Free Parking in the student lot across the street, not in front, please!

Cost: $3. Free to Kendall students and faculty with ID.

This program is hosted by the Chicago Foodways Roundtable.