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The Partisan Coffee House: an "Anti Espresso Bar"

When: 23 February 2018, 11:00-12:30
Venue: Birkbeck, University of London. Paul Hirst Seminar Room (102), 10 Gower Street, London WC1E 6HJ

All welcome; first come, first seated

Speaker: Mike Berlin (Birkbeck College, University of London)

This seminar considers the relationship between food history and political and cultural movements as embodied in the remarkable story of the brief life of the Partisan Coffee House, set up by socialist historian Raphael Samuel in London in 1958. The Partisan was envisaged as ‘the first socialist coffee house in the country’ and a meeting place for the left. In its short lifespan it became the spiritual home of the early New Left, a centre for a vibrant dissenting culture that embraced all the most salient political, social and cultural issues of the day from Nuclear Disarmament to Anti-colonialism.

With an eclectic menu that included Borscht, Viennese coffee and 'Whitechapel cheesecake' alongside more far-fetched dishes such as the then untasted chili con carne, it aimed to recreate the culture of a mitteleuropäischebohemian cafe in the centre of London’s bohemian quarter, and was known as 'London's first anti-espresso bar'.

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