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Dining with Stalin: A Culinary History of the Soviet Empire

March 4, 2016 @ 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm

Please join us on March 4, 2016, for a lecture by Erik R. Scott titled “Dining with Stalin: A Culinary History of the Soviet Empire.” The event is part of the Feast and Famine Series.

In his talk, Erik Scott adopts a culinary perspective to explore the evolution of the multiethnic Soviet empire. He looks at how the Soviet effort to promote a diet representative of the state’s internal diversity created opportunities for non-Russian culinary specialists and imbued Soviet material culture with complementary and conflicting national meanings. Focusing on the celebrated food and drink of Joseph Stalin’s homeland, he follows the dissemination of Georgian dishes and wines, accompanied by distinct dining and drinking rituals, from the upper echelons of Soviet power to the broader Soviet public. Drawing on archival materials, cookbooks, restaurant menus, and interviews, he examines how Georgian cuisine both affirmed and challenged Soviet authority and considers its enduring political and cultural significance in the post-Soviet era.


Erik Scott Photo

Scott is Assistant Professor of Russian and Soviet history at the University of Kansas. Drawing on years of fieldwork and knowledge of several regional languages, his research and teaching explore migration and diaspora within and beyond the imperial borders of Russia and Eurasia. His book, Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora and the Evolution of Soviet Empire (Oxford University Press, 2016), reimagines the Soviet empire by revealing how external borders concealed an array of specialized internal diaspora populations. He has recently begun a new project on Soviet defectors and the production of Cold War borders, focusing on the winding journeys of defectors through border zones, transit hubs, extraterritorial spaces, and contested areas beyond the limits of state jurisdiction. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on Russian and Soviet history, the Cold War, comparative empires, and migration in global perspective. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 2011 and was the Post-Doctoral Fellow in Caucasian and Central Asian Affairs at Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies from 2011 to 2012.



A series co-sponsored by the Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia and the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, Feast and Famine began in 1996, when the Food Studies program was launched. Marion Nestle (Food Studies-Steinhardt), Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett (Performance Studies-Tisch) and Susan Rogers (Anthropology-GFAS) received a grant from the NYU Humanities Council to hold (6) interdisciplinary seminars each year. Food Studies has continually hosted Feast and Famine for the past 17 years between 4 and 6 times annually, adding up to over 100 presentations.



Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health
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