Singapore Heritage Festival 2021 (May 27-28): The Hungry City: Singapore's Food History in Global Perspective (Online Workshop)

Geoffrey Kevin Pakiam's picture

Dear colleagues,

Please join us for this upcoming online workshop titled: "The Hungry City: Singapore's Food History in Global Perspective", organized by Anthony Medrano (Yale-NUS College) and Geoffrey Pakiam (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute).

The workshop will take place on Thursday, 27 May 2021 at 9:45 am SGT (11:45 am AEST / 1:45 am UTC) and Friday, 28 May 2021, at 10:00 am SGT (12:00 pm AEST / 2:00 am UTC).

This event will be held on Zoom and is open to all. To register, please visit the Singapore Heritage Festival's website.


"The Hungry City: Singapore's Food History in Global Perspective"

Workshop Description

Singapore has been one of Southeast Asia's most important nodes for trade in food and raw goods since the nineteenth century, yet it has received relatively little attention in the global historiography of food. This public workshop seeks to uncover the politico-economic and socio-cultural dimensions of Singapore's food history, investigate the extent to which Singapore's edible past can generate new understandings of the island's position in Asia and beyond, as well as provide insights into the island’s modernisation processes.

The two-day event will bring together a diverse group of Singapore-based faculty, intellectuals, cultural workers, and students of history to reflect on food's multi-layered, omnipresent nature in old Singapore. Speakers will draw on a broad span of approaches to deepen the understanding of food. These include culinary, social, oral, environmental, political, and economic history, as well the history of science, technology, and medicine.



Thursday, May 27, 2021


09:45 SGT (11:45 AEST / 01:45 UTC) Welcome and Opening Remarks: Tan Tai Yong (Yale-NUS College)


10:00 - 11:30 Session 1: Memoryscapes

Moderated by: Geoffrey Pakiam (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

- Vivienne Wee (Ethnographica) and Sarah Benjamin (Ethnographica): Understanding Singapore's Hawker Culture in Time and Place

- Kathy Poh (Yale-NUS College): A Ray in the Shadows: Cultural Histories of the Stingray in Singapore

- Pamelia Chia (Chef and Founder, Singapore Noodles): The Changing Face of Singapore's Kopitiams


11:40 - 13:15 Session 2: Work

Moderated by: Inez Alsagoff (National University of Singapore)

- Liz Chee (Asia Research Institute): Singapore's Cold War Kitchen: Women, Technology and Consumerism in a Landlord State

- Joshua Goh Seng Chuan (National University of Singapore): Contest Consumption: Labour Activism in Singapore Restaurants, 1950s-1960s

- Sheryl Teo (Yale-NUS): A Necessary Luxury: The Social World of Salt in Singapore


13:15 - 14:15 Break


14:15 - 15:50 Session 3: Identity

Moderated by: Anthony Medrano (Yale-NUS)

- Khir Johari (Singapore Heritage Society): The Language of Laksa

- Sheere Ng (Co-Founder, In Plain Words): Nobody's and Everybody's Singapore Noodles

- Celeste Beh (Yale-NUS): Otak-otak: Wrapped Up with the Region


15:50-16:00 Closing Remarks


Friday, May 28, 2021


Start: 10:00 (12:00 AEST / 02:00 UTC)


10:00 - 11:30 Session 4: Sea

Moderated by: Anthony Medrano (Yale-NUS College)

- Geoffrey Pakiam (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute): Seeing Red: Snappers in Singapore History

- Inez Alsagoff (National University of Singapore): An X-Ray into Sambal STingray: How a Trash Fish Became a Local Hawker Favourite

- Faris Joraimi (Yale-NUS): La-La Land: A Cultural Biography of Singapore's Edible Sea Shells


11:40 - 13:15 Session 5: Produce

Moderated by: Geoffrey Pakiam (ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute)

- Timothy P. Barnard (National University of Singapore): Public Abbatoirs and Protein in Colonial Singapore

- Fiona Clare Williamson (Singapore Management University) and Joshua Goh Ngee Chae (National University of Singapore): From Garden to Table: Historical Experiences of Growing One's Own Food in Singapore

- Marvin Joseph Montefrio (Yale-NUS): From Material to Symbolic Value: Fruit Trees in Singapore's History


13:15 - 14:15 Break


14:15 - 16:10 Session 6: Medicine

Moderated by Faris Joraimi (Yale-NUS College)

- Faizah Zakaria (Nanyang Technological University): Nutrition in Malay Traditional Domestic Medicine

- Kimberly Ho (Yale-NUS College): Oh My Cod!: The Significance of Scott's Emulsion in Singaporean Childhoods

- Elliot Ong (National University of Singapore): Maw-numental Changes: The Past and Present of Fish Maw in Singapore

- Anthony Medrano (Yale-NUS College): Makan Ubat: Rethinking Singapore in the Age of Plant Humanities


16:10 - 16:15 Closing Remarks