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Lecture | History Brown Bag Seminar

Food and Social Reform: People’s Kitchens in the Low Countries, 1860-1914

  • Jeffrey Tyssens (Vrije Universiteit Brussel)
Thursday 7 December 2017
History Brown Bag Seminars 2017-2018
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room 027

In the 1860s new ideas of offering cheap food to the poor made way in different circles of social reformers in Belgium and the Netherlands. Instead of occasionally donating free food to the indigent, as classical charity would have it, several reform oriented groups and individuals wanted to construct a new style of philanthropy: processed food would not be given but sold at low prices, preferably to working men, in people’s restaurants (usually called “volksgaarkeukens” or “fourneaux économiques”) that were to operate on a permanent basis.

Who fostered these local social reform initiatives? Do we meet the usual suspects or can we see less known people or voluntary societies operating in this field? What ideas motivated their intervention with regard to this particular matter? How were these people’s kitchens organized? What kind of food was on the menu and who was actually consuming it? By means of case studies treating both the north and the south, Brussels historian Jeffrey Tyssens sheds light on this understudied aspect of the social policies organized locally in different urban settings in the second half of the 19th century.

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