Academic journal article Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

Food, Foodways and Foodscapes: Culture, Community and Consumption in Post-Colonial Singapore

Academic journal article Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

Food, Foodways and Foodscapes: Culture, Community and Consumption in Post-Colonial Singapore

Article excerpt

Singapore

Food, foodways and foodscapes: Culture, community and consumption in post-colonial Singapore

Edited by LILY KONG and VINEETA SINHA

Singapore: World Scientific, 2016. Pp. 260. Index.

Food studies has become institutionally mainstreamed, with PhD programmes, dedicated appointments in areas such as global food history, and a raft of methodological guides. Given Singapore's cultural position at the intersection of imperial history and multiculturalism and its geographical position as a major equatorial port city connected to complex Indian Ocean and imperial trade networks, it comes as no surprise that there has also been increased scholarly interest in the study of food in this important city-state. Food, foodways and foodscapes: Culture, community and consumption in post-colonial Singapore reflects this growing engagement.

The title of the collection is perhaps a little misleading, with post-colonial being understood temporally rather than theoretically. As the editors make clear in the introductory chapter the collection ranges from the early days of 'post-colonialism' to 'contemporary times'. The editors use a very broad gaze and locate the collection in the context of interdisciplinary food studies, foregoing the opportunity of a more sustained engagement with Singapore-specific literature. The nine chapters take varying methodological approaches and there are those that will be of interest to food scholars, those that will be of interest to Singapore scholars and a few that stand out as making contributions to both.

Chua Beng Huat's opening autobiographical photo essay connects to one of the predominant themes in bom Singapore studies and this collection; heritage and memory-making. Memories are also a thread that runs through Adeline Tay's chapter on snack foods in Singapore, what she rather charmingly frames as snackscapes. Tay connects snacking to the cultural significance of time in Singapore--simultaneous symbol of a rushed lifestyle and resistance to it. For Kelvin E.Y. Low, memories exist at the intersection of senses and text as he considers food-related nostalgia as acts of consumption, remembering and reading about food. …

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