History Department
History Department

Symposium: "Commodities and Culture in the 'Other' Europe 1800-1945," March 9-10

Fri, March 9, 2012 | Garrison Hall (GAR) 4.100

The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies presents:

"Commodities and Culture in the 'Other' Europe  1800-1945"
A symposium on March 9-10, 2012, Garrison Hall (GAR) 4.100

The “West” and particularly Western Europe holds a privileged place in the recent state of literature on the history and “social life” of commodities across the globe.  Direct colonies of the West, too, have been closely tied in to a history of global commodity exchange. In contrast, work on commodity and culture on Europe’s eastern periphery—including East-West flows of goods and models of consumption—has largely eluded study. “Commodity and Culture in the ‘Other’ Europe” will gather scholars working in relatively uncharted territory, that is, cultural and social processes surrounding commodity production, exchange and consumption in East Central and Southeastern Europe from 1800-1945.  Among other things, symposium participants will consider the following questions. Were commodities and their accompanying social and cultural transformations experienced, lived, and filtered in entirely different ways in the “Other Europe”? In what ways did commodity-driven “Eastern” interaction with the West spawn imitation or, on the contrary, resentment and reaction? Were parts of “Eastern Europe” rightfully a part of commodity-driven coretransformations, innovators not imitators, centers not peripheries? Also we will explore the extent to which the social lives of commodities were shaped by local mores and experiences.  In other words was the consumption of certain products tantamount to a leveling “Westernization,” or was it integrated into distinctly local practices, forms, and meanings?  Finally how were various incarnations of commodity exchange, production and consumption linked to the ushering in of modernity into the region—to what extent did they make Eastern Europe modern and how tightly was this tied to the West European experience.  Ultimately, discussion of these questions promises to shed light on contemporary cultures of consumption in “New Europe,” and more pointedly its ongoing encounter with the West via commodity exchange and consumption.

For a complete schedule, please visit the Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies' "Commodities/Cultures" symposium web page:


The Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies

The Institute for Historical Studies

Sponsored by: Center for Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, and the Institute for Historical Studies

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