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Gesa Trojan


Center for Metropolitan Studies
TU Berlin
Hardenbergstraße 16-18
10623 Berlin    


Tastes of the Old Home in the New World. Jewish immigrant foodways in Toronto around 1900

Between 1881 and 1931 the Jewish population in Canada grew remarkably from about 2.400 to over 150.000. One of the largest migrating groups at the time were Jews leaving their mostly rural Eastern European homes, bringing with them a large variety of social, cultural and national backgrounds – and therefore different customs of producing, preparing and consuming food. Aside from the French and British Canadians, Jews soon became the largest religious-cultural group in Quebec and Ontario at the time. At the turn of the 19th century, Toronto was an industrializing, growing and expanding North American city which attracted many of the arriving Jewish immigrants. With a considerable freedom of design and the resources to implement new (food-) ways of urban life, Toronto offers an auspicious case to investigate the interlinkages of cultural practice, identity and urban space as emerged from global migration processes.

Starting from an Urban Studies perspective, I will bring together different approaches from Memory Studies and Social History to explore Jewish immigrants’ food as
-    bearer of memory
-    transmitter of feelings of home and belonging
-    zone of conflict and contact.

Doing so, I will on the one hand scrutinize the meaning Jewish immigrants ascribed to food, and on the other hand I will examine how hegemonic city societies received and included immigrants’ food. In other words: When and how did smoked meat stop tasting like the old home / something foreign and start to taste like a Canadian specialty? I argue that immigrants’ food practices contributed to preserve a transcultural identity rooting in the old Eastern European home while simultaneously enabling adaption and appropriation in the post-migration setting of the new world.



Since 2015                            

DFG Fellow PhD Candidate at the International Graduate Research Program “The World in the City, Berlin – New York – Toronto”, at the Center for Metropolitan Studies, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany.


Visiting Scholar at the City Institute at York University (CITY), Toronto, Canada.


Magistra Artium in Cultural Studies at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg, Germany. Main Topics: History, Language and Communication, Cultural Mediation.


Professional Experience

Since 2018

Educator and Researcher at Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin, Germany.

2014 - 2018

Freelance Educator for the historical multimedia education project “Geschichtomat” at the Institute for the History of the German Jews (Institut für die Geschichte der deutschen Juden, IGdJ), Hamburg, Germany.

2014 - 2016                          

Freelance Educator for Kulturprojekte GmbH, focus of activity at the Topography of Terror Documentation Center, Berlin, Germany.

Freelance Educator for the House of the Wannsee Conference Memorial, Berlin, Germany.

2013 - 2014                  

Freelance Researcher for the Research Center for Contemporary History in Hamburg (Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg, FZH), Germany.

2012 - 2014                 

Freelance Educator at the Concentration Camp Neuengamme Memorial, Hamburg, Germany.


Periods Abrooad


Research Stay in Toronto and New York City


Research Stay in Toronto, Montreal, and New York City


Visiting Scholar at the City Institute at York University (CITY), Toronto, Canada.


Research Stay in New York City


Studies at Université Paris X, Nanterre, France




Blog-Post: “Stirring the Pot in Toronto and Berlin: Researching Toronto’s Jewish Food History from Both Sides of the Atlantic”, in Ontario Jewish Archives Blog, August 9, 2017, www.ontariojewisharchives.org/Blog/Researcher-Spotlight-Gesa-Trojan


Article in Compilation: “Täterschaft im KZ Neuengamme in der lokalen Erinnerung. Das KZ-Arbeitskommando ‘Dove Elbe‘ in Erzählungen der Dorfbevölkerung“, in Oliver von Wrochem (Ed.) Nationalsozialistische Täterschaften und der Umgang mit Täterschaften in Familie und Gesellschaft nach 1945, Berlin, Metropol, pp. 237-256.


Podcast: “In conversation with Urban Scholar Ute Lehrer”, Center for Metropolitan Studies Podcast VI.


Peer Reviewed Journal Article: “The Camp and the Village: Local Memory of the Neuengamme Concentration Camp among the Resident Population“, in The Journal of Social Policy Studies, Volume 13, Issue 3, 2015, pp. 451-464.


Monograph: Das Lager im Dorf lassen. Das KZ Neuengamme in der lokalen Erinnerung, München/Hamburg, Dölling & Galitz.


Article: With Christiane Hess: “Vom Umgang mit Bildern in der pädagogischen Arbeit der KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme“, in KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme (Ed.) Bildungsangebote der KZ-Gedenkstätte Neuengamme. Ein Praxisreader, Hamburg, pp. 10-11.


Conference Report: Das KZ-Neuengamme und seine Außenlager. Geschichte, Nachgeschichte, Erinnerung, Bildung. 01.10.2009-03.10.2009, Hamburg, in: H-Soz-u-Kult, 12.03.2010, http://hsozkult.geschichte.hu-berlin.de/tagungsberichte/id=3030


Selected Talks and Conferences Presentations


“Add Matzo Meal and Stir Well. Food as Practice and Representation of Urban Jewishness in Interwar Toronto”, Paper Presentation, Conference Association for Canadian Jewish Studies (ACJS) Annual Meeting 2017, Ryerson University Toronto, Canada (First-Prize-Winner of Marcia Koven Award for Best Student Paper).


“Threatened Hospitality / Threatening Hostility” Conference and Panel Organization and Moderation, Conference UrbanTOPIAS. Discussing the Challenges of Changing Cities, Technische Universität Berlin, Germany.


“Hunger for Home. Jewish Foodways in Toronto around 1900” Poster presentation, Conference Inhabited Futures, Constructed Pasts, University of Toronto; York University, Toronto, Canada.


“Teaching National Socialist Crimes in Germany. Evolution and Challenges of Educational Work in Memorial Museums“ Paper Presentation, Panel Organization, and Moderation, Conference Lehren der Vergangenheit: Totalitarismus in Museen, Gedenkstätten, Archiven und modernen Medien in Russland und Deutschland, Moscow/Perm, Russia.


„Das Lager und das Dorf. Erinnerungen der lokalen Bevölkerung an das KZ Neuengamme.“ Conference „Lehren der Vergangenheit: Totalitarismus in Museen, Gedenkstätten, Archiven und modernen Medien in Russland und Deutschland“, Perm, Russia.


„Das Lager im Dorf lassen. Das KZ-Neuengamme in der lokalen Erinnerung“ Book Launch, Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte in Hamburg, Germany.


"Verbindungen – Das KZ-Neuengamme und die Region" Talk within the program of events accompanying the exhibition „Gleichschaltung, Zustimmung, Widerstand. Bergedorfer Jugend im Nationalsozialismus“ Museum for Bergedorf and the Vierlande, Hamburg, Germany.



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