Cooking Filipino Identity through ‘Delicious' Activism: Examining the Practices of Second-Generation Filipino Youth in the Filipino Food Movement

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Gazel MANUEL, Carleton University, Canada
Scholarship on youth cultural activism has neglected to showcase the potential of culinary arts as a type of socially-engaged cultural production. To address this gap in the literature, this paper will focus on the Filipino Food Movement, a growing identity-oriented social movement that harnesses Filipino culinary arts as a means to disseminate knowledge about Filipino culture and cuisine. The Filipino Food Movement was originally founded in 2011 by second-generation Filipino-Americans who sought to make Filipino cuisine as ubiquitous as Chinese cuisine in the United States, which speaks to a larger issue of the politics of representation among transnational Filipinos. This study uses interviews with second-generation Filipino-Canadian youth, notably chefs and culinary entrepreneurs who are involved in the Filipino Food Movement, to showcase how their involvement in the Filipino Food Movement is informed by their unique identifications as second-generation Filipino-Canadian youth. I argue that the Filipino Food Movement is implicit in a politics of representation, wherein second-generation Filipino-Canadians use food as a means to challenge their “invisibility” and “hypervisibility” in Canadian society. To this end, I discuss the movement's methods such as digital strategies (i.e., social media, blogging) and community engagement (i.e., events, workshopping), as ways of transforming knowledge about Filipinos in the context of contemporary multicultural societies. Food is one of the most accessible ways for people to relate to and learn about different cultures, having the potential to reach a wide and diverse audience. Indeed, the Filipino Food Movement is a “third space” (Bhabha 1994), a transformative site through which second-generation Filipinos make use of unconventional methods, like the culinary arts, as a form of cultural activism and as an affirmation of cultural citizenship. Through food, second-generation Filipino youth can express their hybrid Filipino identifications on their own terms—challenging what it means to be Filipino in the twenty-first century.