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Accepted Paper:

I am writing for my grandchildren...Food memories from Soviet Estonia  
Anu Kannike (Estonian National Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The paper examines contemporary Estonian representations of food culture under socialism, mainly relying on answers to the questionnaire "Food culture during the Soviet period" in the archives of the Estonian National Museum (2002-2004). The analysis focuses on people born in the 1920s-1940s.

Paper long abstract:

The paper analyses retrospective assessments of the socialist experience from the postsocialist perspective of the elderly generation emerging from food memories. The particular sources enable to study how these people create meaning in regard to their food practices under socialism and how they have experienced and represent social transformation. The paper mainly looks at coping strategies in the family that emerges as the main site of remembrance and a source of identity.

The long life experience of the elderly respondents enables them to look at the social transformations from a broader perspective, often comparing three different eras - pre-war, Soviet and post-Soviet. The structure of narratives of the Soviet past is often based on a comparison and contrast between "then" and "now" as well as different generations. Accounts of Soviet-time food practices reflect a multitude of voices and perspectives. However, we can speak about a distinct generational profile.

The study outlines the cultural and individual resources and strategies remembered and emphasized in recollections about Soviet everyday life, looking at what aspects are described in a critical and what in a positive light. The public aspects of Soviet food culture are seen in a critical manner and the corruptive character of the system is condemned, but individual experiences are mostly considered valuable and recollected with some nostalgia. In retrospect we see pride over the social skills enabling to cope with shortages and some aspects of Soviet time everyday practice like self-provisioning have maintained an important position as ideal and practice.

Panel Sui02
Current images of socialism
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 April, 2019, -