How did Denmark become the modern, wealthy, welfare state that it is today? Reports of Danish modernity have emphasised the importance of the agricultural sector and especially the shift from grain to animal production in the late nineteenth century. Moreover, pork and bacon are often seen as being fundamentally connected with modern Danish identity, as important export commodities and as part of the national diet. However, despite their undoubted significance, pigs are largely absent from accounts of Danish history. 

In her paper at this food history seminar, Professor Mary Hilson from Aarhus University’s School of Culture and Society will outline a new research project focusing on the history of Danish pigs from the 1880s to the 1930s.

Drawing inspiration from the inter-disciplinary fields of food studies, and animal studies on the other, she will explore the role of pigs as historical actors in the transformation of Danish agriculture, and as pork and bacon exported above all to the UK.

The seminar will focus on the 1880s–1890s when Danish farmers began to switch production towards the British market. Much of the production of pigs and pork took place under the auspices of co-operative organisations (slaughterhouses and co-operative export societies).

Meanwhile, the English Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) was a major importer of Danish pork and also a producer in its own right. These co-operative sources offer an opportunity to reconstruct the commodity chain in full, starting with pig breeding and raising, through slaughtering, processing and export, to marketing and the consumption of bacon by British customers.

When: 4 October, 5.30–7.30pm
Who: Institute of Historical Research
Where: IHR North American History Room, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

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