WiSe 18/19: From Döner and Currywurst to Vegan Burgers and Vertical Farming: Introduction to the History, Culture and Politics of Food in Berlin
Subject: Berlin is, among other things, a hotbed for new food trends. It was named the “the vegan Mecca” and the “vegetarian capital” of the world and “one of the most vibrant food cities in Europe”, ... read more
Subject: Berlin is, among other things, a hotbed for new food trends. It was named the “the vegan Mecca” and the “vegetarian capital” of the world and “one of the most vibrant food cities in Europe”, with countless events celebrating every imaginable food from burgers, beer and bread to paleo food, Kibbeh and Kimchi. But food is much more than just “the new fashion”, and what we eat is not just a lifestyle choice and an object for postings in social media. Food is a crucial element of personal, social and cultural identity, and it is at the heart of social, political, economic and environmental questions of immense concern.
Program: Having identified some of the most relevant points of view from which food can be discussed and analysed, we will examine the cultural history of food in Berlin since the 19th century and address some of the key issues regarding the production and consumption of food in the age of industrialisation. We will consult academic texts from the social sciences and from cultural history, and students will learn about food projects and initiatives in present-day Berlin, concerned with very concrete political aspects of food, such as avoiding waste, establishing communities for urban gardening or other aspects of the production and the consumption of food. Students should be willing to participate in excursions which will take us to an exhibition on the cultural history of food and one of the many urban gardening projects in Berlin.
Is this course suitable for you? This course is open to students from all academic fields. Nevertheless, you should be prepared to study a number of academic texts in English from the social sciences, cultural history and cultural studies. You should be interested in reflecting critically on eating habits and food preferences in a cultural, social and environmental context, and you should be prepared to do some field research on a specific aspect of contemporary Berlin food culture in a working group and present and discuss the findings in class.
Workload and Assessment: In order to obtain 5 ECTS credits, students will have to attend the course regularly (at least 13 out of 16 sessions), study the weekly course materials (an average of 15-20 pages of English texts per week); participate in a working group (field research) with a presentation in class and pass the written examination (90 minutes).