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Food Insecurity, National Cuisine, and Philippine Modernity in the 20th Century

Sun, April 3, 10:45am to 12:45pm, Washington State Convention Center, 3rd Floor, Room 304

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel

Abstract

This panel examines the politics and tensions of 20th century Philippine modernity through food. By using food as an optic, the panelists illustrate the ways in which bureaucrats and elites deployed the politics of race, class, and gender to invoke a dietary biopolitics for the emerging nation. From the advent of U.S. colonialism, into the interwar period, and through the Marcos era, presenters consider the effects of food insecurity and international pressure (such as WHO dietary recommendations and Cold War modernization) on national foodways. Indeed, the ultimate makers of Philippine cuisine were the bodies of quotidian Manila life: schoolchildren, nursing mothers, and street vendors, who seized on food in myriad ways as a medium of resistance and expression. Alexander Orquiza considers publications on food by the American-run Bureau of Education during the first half of the American Period to reveal the attempt by American reformers to create a new Filipino cuisine that was both heavily informed by the American Progressive movement and profoundly detached from everyday Filipino life. Theresa Ventura turns to the period between the wars to examine how national elites built upon and departed from U.S. colonial projects through their promotion of maternal nutrition and breastfeeding. Adrian De Leon examines the proliferation of street foods during the Marcos years to show how an urban food system--and a national cuisine--could flourish under food insecurity and martial law. Emeritus Professor Daniel Doeppers, author of the forthcoming Feeding Manila in Peace and War, 1850-1945, will chair and comment.

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