Milk and Laboratories in Urban-Rural and State-Society Relations: The Case of Hungary from the Beginning of Wartime Shortages until the Great Depression
University of Public Service, Institute of Central European Studies
The paper analyses the roles of milk production and milk supply in the changes of the state-society relations and knowledge production in 20th early century Hungary. It places laboratories and the perception of milk as material in the centre of analysis prompting a narrative that takes account of the hybrid nature of milk. Building on arguments that Bruno Latour and Timothy Mitchell formulated, this study reveals key aspects of government, economy and modernity by using the notion that there are no clear boundaries between culture and nature. Hybridity also refers to the impossibility of controlling for all aspects of “nature.” The first part of the paper takes laboratories as junctures of legislation and urban-rural relations. The second part highlights the urban conditions as well as the local political contexts of milk consumption and milk shortage in the World War I and post-World War I period. Overall, the paper is a case for why food history is one of the ways to take research beyond methodological nationalism without having to ignore the realm of politics.
Keywords: Food shortage, urban-rural relations, milk history, history of science, history of cooperatives, interwar Hungary