Consuming and advertising: Eastern Europe revisited

Hanna Meisel's picture
Call for Papers
March 4, 2021 to March 5, 2021
Subject Fields: 
Eastern Europe History / Studies, European History / Studies, Modern European History / Studies, Oral History, Popular Culture Studies

Since the offset of industrialization and intensified urbanization in the 19th century, consumer cultures have developed as a feature of modern societies. In earlier epochs, however, different forms of consumer cultures existed already. Even if consumer cultures are transnational phenomena, we can find different forms “nationalized” by a given society. Consumption in Eastern Europe is often associated with shortage and queuing, but even during socialism consumer cultures have developed as recent studies show. Advertising which for a long time seemed to have been absent under socialism is a related field of study: which forms and media of advertising existed, which open or hidden messages were transported, which functions did advertising have under socialism? Social differentiation, gender and materiality are connected subjects. All in all, consumption and consumer cultures as well as advertising can be seen as indicators for the attitudes and values of a society.

In recent years, consumer cultures have become an important field of historical research on everyday life. Especially with regard to the socialist societies in Eastern Europe some exciting topics have been analysed and approaches have been developed. The conference, jointly organised by the Association of Historians of Eastern Europe and the Herder Institute, aims to take up this trend and discuss different forms of consumption and advertising not only during the 20th century but also in a long-term perspective.

Topics of the proposals can therefore include:
❫ Supply and related food consumption;
❫ goods of daily use / consumer goods and home applicances, cars
❫ luxury goods like spices, alcohol and tabacco;
❫ fashion as a particularly gendered form of consumer cultures;
❫ the economic, political and social conditions/background for consumption;
❫ historical changes of consumer cultures and consumer societies;
❫ cultural studies’ analyses of advertisement;
❫ history of the senses and history of emotions as related to consumption- the material aspects/ materiality of consumption;
❫ (post-socialist) remembrance of consumption and advertising.

The organizers invite up to 15 scholars working on consumer cultures in Eastern Europe. Transnational and comparative studies (East-West, East-South, East-global etc.) are highly welcome. The organizers are planning to edit a selection of papers after the conference.

A proposal of maximum 300 words and a short biography with a list of (selected) publications and areas of research should be submitted in a
word document (docx) by 31 August 2020 to: forum@herder-institut

Contact Info: 

PD Dr. Heidi Hein-Kircher
Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe
Institute of the Leibnitz Association
Gisonenweg 5-7
35037 Marburg, Germany
or Hanna Meisel (

Contact Email: