Maroesjka is a PhD candidate at the Department of History of the University of Amsterdam. She holds a BA in Autonomous Art from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, and a BA and RMA (cum laude) in History from the University of Amsterdam.
In her project, Feeding the city, Maroesjka investigates the food supply of Amsterdam from its hinterlands c. 1550-1800. How did food provision function and develop in light of the period’s urbanization and rural transformations? Connecting (amongst others) producers, environment, food markets, and consumers, the domestically produced food is put centre stage. This allows for a ‘holistic’ approach in which a variety of actors (both human and non-human) receive immediate attention.
Maroesjka’s academic interest focuses on food as a medium to study how people have related to their natural environments in the early modern world. In addition to food and environment her interests include animal-human history, urban and rural history, new materialism, history of knowledge, and visual and material culture.
Feeding the city: A bird’s-eye view of Amsterdam’s food supply from its hinterlands, c. 1550-1800
It is widely accepted that the ‘miracle’ that was the Dutch Republic’s economic success was propelled by reciprocity between the quickly advancing rural and urban sector. This ‘symbiotic relationship’ between city and periphery was driven by food provision (De Vries & Van der Woude, 1997). Nonetheless, virtually no attention has been paid to how domestic supply of food actually functioned. How did the regional food supply to Amsterdam develop between c. 1550 and c. 1800 in distance, quantity and quality? How did different actors influence these developments, and why?
Although food production consists of practices that have connected human beings ‘in the most vital, constant, and concrete way to the natural world’ (Worster, 1990) that relationship has in this case only become apparent in the context of capital: nature is discussed in service of modernisation, or as disasters that stand in the way of stability and progress. Non-human influences on human customs and systems have therefore remained largely unnoticed, but are crucial to understanding the full picture. This project puts the domestically produced food centre stage in order to pay immediate attention to a variety of actors (such as animals, diseases, plants, and people) within a flat structure.
Amsterdam and its hinterlands offer an ideal case study: while the city grew rapidly into the largest city of the Republic and became densely populated, its surrounding lakes were increasingly drained and transformed into polders in order to produce food for the Amsterdam market. By reconstructing ‘blockchains’ of a selection of food products my research traces the life-journeys of food, and researches the contexts and circumstances of each destination. In addition, the relational development in time and space will be explored by ‘deep mapping’ Amsterdam and its hinterlands.