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CFP: 2014 EAAS Conference Workshop: Food on the Home Front, Food on the Warfront: Conflict and the American Diet

Food has been an inextricable part of American warfare since the inception of the nation. From the traveling cooks of the Revolutionary War, to the advent of canned provisions during the Civil War, to the renaming of German dishes such as sauerkraut (liberty cabbage) and hamburgers (liberty steaks) during World War I, to the rise of Asian cuisine during World War II and the Vietnam War, to the surge of Middle Eastern cuisine and the French fries/freedom fries controversy of the post 9/11 era, military conflict has impacted the American diet both on the warfront and on the home front. While international politics and domestic propaganda ostensibly initiated and sustained many of these dietary changes, some outlasted the wars with which they were originally associated, becoming a permanent part of American culinary culture. The consumption of canned food, for example, was originally designed for soldiers and travelers who could not always access a fresh cooked meal. Canned food was then sold to middle class consumers as luxury items which would facilitate their busy lifestyles. After World War II, however, canned food was democratized through mass production, becoming a generic and inexpensive part of American life. Today, it is a significant part of the national palate, spawning entire industries (tuna) and foodways (spam cuisine). War has also prompted Americans to rethink their consumption of food, ranging from the improvement of domestic beer brewing (when patriotic Americans refused to consume German beer); to the conservation and home gardening movements of World Wars I and II; to more recent efforts centering on organic and green consumption after Americans witnessed what chemicals could do to the human body during the Vietnam and Gulf Wars. Food has also served as points of contention between war-torn nations, with Hershey Bars and Coca Cola functioning first as soft power or cultural “envoys of peace,” and later as insidious portents of the American capitalism and imperialism that many associate with “hard power” US global interventions.

This workshop, which is part of the 2014 EAAS Conference at the Hague (Netherlands, April 3-6), seeks to explore the meaning of food in relation to the conference theme of American conflict and war. The workshop chairs encourage the submission of paper proposals dealing with the ways in which war has impacted American foodways and culinary culture since the eighteenth century. We are especially interested in submissions that consider material objects such as menus, posters, food packaging, recipes and cookbooks as well as media representations, including pamphlets, short films, and public service announcements produced by the US government, related agencies, and NGOs. Topics may include, but are not limited to: representations of food and war in American literature; war and the scarcity of food; food conservation movements and grassroots activism; home production and canning; gender, class, race and food; the evolution of the American diet; culinary creativity, food substitutions, and changes in cooking style; the American consumer and shopping habits; food, war, and children; propaganda and patriotism; cooking classes, textbooks and indoctrination; food rationing and hoarding; nutrition during wartime; and comparative/transnational approaches.

Paper proposals (abstracts of no more than 500 words) and one-paragraph bios should be emailed to both workshop chairs by October 1, 2013.

In order to present at the conference, membership in EAAS, or one of its affiliates, is required. Unfortunately, late submissions cannot be considered. Limited travel funds will be available for individuals with accepted abstracts.