Hawking the Nation: Street Food Culture as Nation-Branding in Malaysia and Singapore

12:30 to 13:30
(GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris
Lunch Talk

In 2020, Singaporean hawker culture was inscribed on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the latest development in the process of (re)making street food as a quintessentially Singaporean national phenomenon. UNESCO’s recognition of Singaporean hawker culture belies a longer history of hawker food as existing within the fabric of both Malaysian and Singaporean societies. In this talk, I will provide a brief history of hawker culture in both countries, focussing particularly on how it has deployed by both Malaysia and Singapore as part of larger nation-branding strategies tied to cultural heritage tourism.

Biography: Bernard Z. Keo is Lecturer in Asian History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He investigates decolonisation and nation-building in post-World War II Malaya and Singapore, focussing particularly on the trajectory of the Peranakan Chinese of the Straits Settlements in Malaya’s path to independence with further interests in the Malayan Emergency, transnational connections across the Malay world, and the end of empire in Southeast Asia.

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Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen
4.2.49, University of Copenhagen, Øster Farimagsgade 5, Copenhagen