East or West, Gordon's is Best: Food Advertising in Singapore
Tarulevicz, NT, East or West, Gordon's is Best: Food Advertising in Singapore, Association for Asian Studies Annual Conference, Interarea Panels and Abstracts, Session 60: Visualizing East Asian Consumption, March 15-18 2012, Sheraton Centre Toronto, Canada EJ (2012) [Conference Extract]
In 1880 Jules Verne described Singapore as "simply one large warehouse, to which Madras sent cotton cloth, Calcutta, opium; Sumatra, pepper; Java, arrack and spices; Manila sugar and arrack; all forthwith dispatched to Europe, China, Siam..." As a British entrepôt port Singapore was an importance centre of trade and a treasure trove of food, foodways and culinary cultures. It also emerged as an important site of advertising. As Jackson Lears pointed out, advertisements are the coupling of "words and pictures in commercial fables." This paper reads advertisements to untangle the intersection of local and global in an economy where the local was peopled by a transient population of new arrivals and there was very limited production of local food. Foreign products emerge not so much as a symbol of the colonial and imperial but as the de facto local – Singapore was defined by its status as a port and an emporium with an impressive breadth of consumables. That categorisation provided the foundation for an engagement with globalization as a form of nationalism for the post-colonial nation state of Singapore. The commercial fables can thus be understood as working in connection with national fables. Or as one traveller to Singapore put it in 1885 Singapore "is like a big desk, full of draws and pigeon holes, where everything has its place, and can always be found in it."