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The Original Fusion Cuisine? Eating Local and Cosmopolitan Food in Singapore


Tarulevicz, NT, The Original Fusion Cuisine? Eating Local and Cosmopolitan Food in Singapore, American Historical Association, Program and Abstracts, 2-5 January 2009, New York (2009) [Conference Extract]


The Singaporean State is paying increasing attention to the History of food and is positing ‘local fare’ within the rhetoric of both cosmopolitanism and globalization. Even the National Museum of Singapore defines Singapore cuisine as ‘the original fusion cuisine’. Claims of hybridity are not unique in multicultural societies and as a relatively new nation state, composed of a population of migrants, many of whom have transnational connections; claims to a fusion cuisine should come as no surprise. The way in which local cuisine is being negotiated in relation to competing foreign cuisines is intriguing in a state that simultaneous promotes multiracialism and is over conscious of ethnic difference. That is, local food has been redefined so that it is not about where ingredients are produced but rather about what type of food is cooked, where it is cooked, consumed and thought about. Local can mean the coffeeshop, the style of food or become shorthand for Singaporean. My specific interest here is in how the food of migrants became defined as Singaporean.

Nostalgia, always a problematic concept in new states, is being negotiated by a direct engagement with food culture. That is, the state in conjunction with private interests and the public is actively promoting food nostalgia. Quite literally, Singaporean space is being re-designed to evoke past food cultures with competing themed ‘historical’ Singaporean foodscapes in the form of architecture, costumes and services. In such settings, local is defined in part by style of cooking – the ‘local fare’ functions both as specific dishes and a synonym for street food. The local thus takes on personal, national and economic functions in Singapore and consequently these categories are themselves reinterpreted through food.

Item Details

Item Type:Conference Extract
Research Division:History, Heritage and Archaeology
Research Group:Historical studies
Research Field:Asian history
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Asia's past
UTAS Author:Tarulevicz, NT (Associate Professor Nicki Tarulevicz)
ID Code:71285
Year Published:2009
Deposited By:Research Division
Deposited On:2011-07-13
Last Modified:2011-07-13

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