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Might Taste Prevail Over Ideology?: Beer Boycotts, Class Tensions, and Imperial Insecurities in Bohemia and Moravia, 1890-1911

Thu, November 9, 3:00 to 4:45pm, Marriott Downtown Chicago, Floor: 2nd, Streeterville


My paper examines boycotts of beer brewed in the Czech Lands that began in the 1890s, tracing the boycotts from their local origins in towns like Pilsen and Brno to Vienna, then beyond the borders of the Habsburg Empire. On the surface, the rhetoric used to curb the consumption of “Czech” beer appears purely nationalist. Upon closer inspection and in conjunction with an examination of localized events, the boycotts and responses to the boycotts reveal a much more complicated reality that says much about class concerns, economic changes, and imperial insecurities. I explore the disconnect between boycott discourse and practice among nationalist activists, Habsburg officials, and working class residents of Pilsen and Brno as each community ascribed both overlapping and conflicting meanings to beer and its production.