Cannons and beer. The changing social metabolism of the city of Plzeň/Pilsen in the long 19th century

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Program podpory perspektivních lidských zdrojů – postdoktorandů
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Researcher in MÚA
Bianca Hoenig
Masarykův ústav a Archiv AV ČR
With this research project, I aim at a long-term study that spans the 19th century until the downfall of the Habsburg monarchy. I will focus on three aspects. First, everyday life and social dynamics: Hereby I address the heterogeneous groups – social, linguistic, national, confessional – of which Plzeň’s population was made up. I analyze the social dynamics brought into town by the rapid industrialization. I also ask about the implications of German-speaking company foundations in a predominantly Czech municipality. Second, resource flows and ecological chains: This aspect harks back to the concept of social metabolism, which enables to pursue circuits of matter, people, and knowledge and to study – intended and unintended – repercussions of ecological change. Third, topographies and scales: Besides the topologies of resource networks, the project investigates topographies on different spatial scales. By means of jeux d’échelle, it is possible to combine the focus on concrete sites and situations of social negotiation with the attentiveness for influences on the meso-level (as for instance the crownland Bohemia or Cisleithania) up to global processes and transfers (e.g. the growing popularity of beer as a lifestyle comestible). By the case study of Plzeň, I aim to entangle these different levels of interaction between societies and their environment. This project is first and foremost to make a contribution to two fields. I thereby seek to integrate the history of Bohemia and Habsburg Central Europe more fully into discussions on global processes in the realms of economy, social change and inequality. Furthermore, I wish to strengthen the environmental history of resource flows and access to resources as an aspect of social history in the context of 19th century Central Europe.