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Title: FOOD IS NOT A PRIVATE MATTER! - Politicising Public Foodscapes and Disciplining Singaporeans’ Bodies
Authors: Shee Siew Ying
Keywords: Food geographies, Healthy eating, Hawker centres, Foucault, Performativities, Singapore
Issue Date: 2016
Citation: Shee Siew Ying (2016). FOOD IS NOT A PRIVATE MATTER! - Politicising Public Foodscapes and Disciplining Singaporeans’ Bodies. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: In an interventionist state like Singapore where the government plays an inordinate role in almost all sectors of our social lives, a seemingly mundane act like eating is certainly not a private matter. Informed by Foucault’s Geographies, Embodied Geographies and Performativities, this thesis thus endeavours to unveil the power politics hidden in everyday geographies of food consumption in Singapore. Recognising the political in food and eating, this thesis first analyses the ways in which food and foodscapes have been employed by the state to discipline Singaporeans’ bodies. More specifically, by casting a historical lens into the nutritional landscape in colonial Singapore, I argue that Singaporeans’ bodies have long been disciplined by foodscapes under the directions of British colonialists in the immediate post-war era. Moving from foodscapes, the post-independent Singapore saw a rapid proliferation of state-prescribed dietary discourses and more recently, the shift to a renewed focus on social ecology. Of importance here is the centrality of space in disciplining our food practices, where our neighbourhood environments - particularly the hawker centres - become politicised in the state’s bio-political exercise to discipline Singaporeans’ bodies. The Healthier Hawker Centres is but one out of the many government initiatives that has a play in producing healthy working bodies less burdensome to the state. Singaporeans are, however, not simply passive subjects subjugated under the state-led dietary bio-political project. More importantly, through excavating local understandings and constraints of food and eating, this thesis also aims to offer opportunities to better contextualise the current national food policies. As healthy eating is as much about the local society as it is about the state’s political interests, it is only through engaging dietary knowledge from the national to the local scales, can we realise the optimal paths to health and well-being of the society.
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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