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2015 | 22 | 2 | 55-68

Article title

Prague’s Urban Elites and the Problem of Spreading Hunger, 1914–1918



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The presented study should by means of a discourse analysis related to an impact of food and other goods shortage on human body help to understand the purpose that in the period of the „Great War“ communal elites and other urban participants attributed to their standings. It points out continuity of mental stereotypes of the fear of hunger and epidemic in the Czech society that were influencing reasoning of communal elites. It also draws attention to an existence of the human body discourse stressing out the fact that human life and health are virtues as such and that it is necessary to protect them. This discourse started to be heard more in the speeches after 1917 and later on it even got a nationalist framework. In spite of that the shortage became a reason for their deligitimization. By contrast, the humanistic national discourse of the charitable organization České srdce established in the autumn of 1917 made use of an emotional and markedly gender representation of hunger and starving body and with an idea that the national identity bridging over conflict zones in the Czech society it achieved in the last war year a considerable resonance. The study presents by virtue of two examples an ambivalence of shortage impacts in the context of a disintegrating social consensus that became both a reason of deligitimization of particular social participants and a source of a public activity of other participants.


  • Institute of Economic and Social History, Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague


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Publication order reference


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