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"Urban Gardening, Black Marketeering, and Bartering: Strategies of Survival in post-WWI Central Europe”

Referentin: PD Dr. Friederike Kind-Kovács
15.09.2022 - 09:00 Uhr

Beschreibung der Veranstaltung

Friederike Kind-Kovács hält im Rahmen des internationalen Workshops "Provisioning Crisis and Transformation of East-Central Europe, 1918–1923” in Prag/CZ den Vortrag "Urban Gardening, Black Marketeering, and Bartering: Strategies of Survival in post-WWI Central Europe”.


WWI and the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire triggered a major food crisis in the region’s post-imperial states. The ongoing lack of certain commodities and the increasing food insecurity made people throughout the region to improvise and search for unconventional modes of food provisioning and consumption. People shared a common desire to secure some part of their standard of living and had trouble to give up on certain foodstuffs and eating habits. As a consequence, strategies evolved that enabled hungry individuals to gain access to the most basic, and emotionally ‘most needed’, foodstuffs. Individuals sought for options to obtain those commodities they considered necessary for their everyday life and to secure their physical and moral survival, independent from the provisions from the state. They began to rely increasingly on self-provisioning and on home-based agricultural production. In the more rural areas people canned vegetables and meat stuffs, hoarded them and/or sold them for exorbitant prices. Cities on the other hand went through a process of ‘ruralization’ which meant that people in the more urban areasd to live a more rural life style, grew their own vegetables and reared animals in the home garden. Individuals also relied on substitute goods to replace unavailable or scarce commodities. Cooperative strategies of survival, such as bartering, became an equally important means to cope with the economy of shortages. The starving populationd to trade jewellery for potatoes or furniture for meat. When such means were no longer sufficient to feed one’s family, people got involved in criminal activities which involved black-marketing, smuggling, plundering and stealing. Against this background, the proposed paper sheds light on the employment of diverse strategies of survival in various post-imperial states, contrasting individual and collective coping strategies as well as urban and rural settings.

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Borsszem Jankó 49, no. 45, (05.11.1916), 8.