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Title: The food culture of East London 1880-1914
Author: Pettit, Katy
ISNI:       0000 0004 2701 2706
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2009
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This thesis offers a re-reading of the cultural history of East London's working class by focusing on the culture of food. During the 19th century, published reports by philanthropists and investigative journalists such as Jack London (People of the Abyss) tended to portray the East End as a locus of deprivation and immorality where starvation was rife, food was substandard, and ignorance perpetuated a poor diet. Challenges to such perspectives went largely overlooked, and the myth of the bad East End was consolidated. Academic and popular historians such as William Fishman (East End 1888) and Ellen Ross (Love and Toil: motherhood in outcast London, 1870-1912) have continued since then to foreground crime, destitution and the outcast minority. In contrast this study presents a more contradictory and nuanced history of East London's culture. It explores elements of middle- and upper-working class food preparation and consumption practices, cultures of knowledge, and attitudes towards nutrition. It draws on diverse sources such as oral history, local newspapers, personal photographs and scrapbooks, shop records, minutes of meetings, and a child's exercise book. Through these means it makes the case that a sufficient and comprehensive food culture existed both at home and in public spaces in East London. Working-class people sought to expand their knowledge about food and cooking from school and college cookery lessons, public lectures and demonstrations. Furthermore, awareness of food was integral to East End culture; born of economic necessity and shaped by custom, organic knowledge about food was nurtured by the culture's permeable boundaries between public and private, leisure and labour, and production and consumption. Using the Report of the Inter-Departmental Committee on Physical Deterioration of 1904 as a case study, this work explores the broader issue of food within the context of changing conceptions of nutrition. Thus a more inclusive version of East London's history can be offered through an understanding of food culture.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available