Goldstein awarded MacGeorge Fellowship at University of Melbourne

Soviet-era propaganda poster: "Hard work will ensure that the city has bread and the collective farms have machinery."

Soviet-era propaganda poster: “Hard work will ensure that the city has bread and the collective farms have machinery.”

Darra Goldstein has been awarded the 2016/2017 MacGeorge Fellowship to complete a piece of scholarly research and writing, hosted by the School of Languages and Linguistics at the University of Melbourne. The Fellowship includes a residency at the historic Ballengeich home, bequeathed to the University by the artist, arts patron and arts educator Norman MacGeorge as part of a larger gift supporting scholarship. Goldstein will complete a book chapter and scholarly article during her residency, investigating the role of food in the “utopian experiment” that was the Soviet Union.

“By 1922, the Soviet Ministry of Enlightenment was already theorizing the conditions under which politically and socially liberated Soviet citizens would thrive,” Goldstein says.
 “No aspect of life went untouched in the government’s efforts to transform the essential structure of society: literacy, hygiene, and nutrition were all part of the educational campaigns. In particular, the Soviets demonized the nuclear family with its personal rather than collective values. Women had to be liberated from familial burdens and demands, most famously those involving the kitchen. By the mid-1920s the Soviet government had come up with a radical idea: massive factory-kitchens to feed the collective rather than the individual. The public preparation and serving of meals offered a crucial opportunity to remove individuals from unhealthy domestic environments.”
During her residency Goldstein plans to explore the rise and fall of the factory-kitchens, as well as other culinary aspects of the alleged utopia that flourished under Stalin, such as the promotion of hygienic government shops over traditional farmers markets; the advancement of “ethnic” recipes from the constituent Soviet republics to further ideals of national unity; and the creation of a myth of abundance through lavish vitrines, colorful posters, illustrated cookbooks, and mass carnivals that harked back to medieval European practice.
For more information, read the press release here.