To live and dine in Dixie: foodways and culture in the twentieth-century South
This dissertation explores the transformation of food culture in urban areas of the American South during the first part of the twentieth century. From 1900 to 1964, southern culinary practices became more public and more in line with national trends. The first three decades of the twentieth century marked an important period of change. In southern homes, white, middle-class, urban women formed a commitment to scientific cooking and used its strict rules to construct new racial and class identities within the urban environment. At the same time, newly urban peoples began frequenting a variety of different types of public eating places. Socio-economic, racial, ethnic, and gender diversity within these spaces encouraged the white power structure in southern cities to implement laws to regulate these public spaces. Such regulation included municipal ordinances that restricted eating places based on race and contributing to the development of a system of racial segregation within the region's urban areas. White southerners maintained racial segregation in public eating places through images and everyday rituals that identified the black consumption of food as subordinate to white consumption. At the height of Jim Crow, however, southern consumption culture also cultivated the seeds of segregation's destruction. Segregated black cafes stimulated African American community building and empowerment, both of which served to undermine the strength of segregation. At the same time, as southern food practices became more entwined with national standards, food systems emerged and spread across the South that encouraged more democratized spaces for the consumption of food. The nationalization of southern food culture, the determined efforts of civil rights activists to end segregated eating patterns, and the continued intransigence of white supremacists to maintain racial segregation in food venues encouraged the United States Congress to enact the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which, among other things, required the desegregation of public eating places.