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Public Lecture: “A Taste of Empire: Food and Colonialism in Asia, 1850s to 1960s

Dr. Cecilia Leong-Salobir, University of Western Australia


Tuesday, October 9th
7 p.m.
Edmund Casey Hall, Room 103


In this public lecture, Dr. Leong-Salobir will employ the concept of ‘foodways’ to examine the emergence of colonial cuisine in India, Malaysia and Singapore.  She will draw upon a wide array of sources, including cookbooks, household guides, colonial memoirs, diaries, and private correspondence, to trace the construction of a hybrid cuisine that took on dietary components of British culinary traditions and food practices from the colonies. The result was a distinctive colonial cuisine that can be seen as the precursor of fusion food.  Indeed, this cuisine developed largely through the reliance of colonizers on their domestic servants. The lecture challenges current scholarship on colonial food history that contends that British colonists ate a totally different diet from the local people as a deliberate attempt to differentiate themselves from local populations. Instead, Leong-Salobir will argue that the colonial culinary experience was a fluid one, and that foods eaten by colonizers in each colony made geographical leaps to other colonies, in the process producing, with subtle regional differences, a pan-colonial cuisine.

The lecture is sponsored by the Anthropology, Sociology and History Departments at St. Thomas University and by the History Department at the University of New Brunswick.

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