How to Eat Right in America: Power, Knowledge, and the Science of Hmong American Food and Health

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Abstract:

This paper investigates the cultural politics of knowledge production regarding Hmong American food-related health issues. Textual analysis of ten research papers published in the last twenty years leads to the critique that mainstream scientific discourse, rooted in Eurocentric epistemology, has in effect constituted Hmong Americans as subjugated Others. We demonstrate how this discourse (1) demarcates between the subject and the object from a Eurocentric viewpoint; (2) associates Hmong-ness with tradition while dissociating tradition from American-ness; (3) overlooks multiple differences within Hmong American communities; and (4) keeps silent on institutional racism as a barrier to healthy living. We explicate the power relations inherent in science research regarding marginalized communities, and call for decolonizing knowledge and research.
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  • Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research is an international, peer-reviewed publication dedicated to exploring the complex relationships among food, culture, and society from numerous disciplines in the humanities, social sciences, and sciences, as well as in the world of food beyond the academic.

    It brings to bear the highest standards of research and scholarship on all aspects of food studies and encourages vigorous debate on a wide range of topics, such as: cross-cultural perspectives on eating behaviors; gender and the food system; recipes, cookbooks, and menu as texts; philosophical and religious perspectives on food and the body; social construction of culinary practices, beliefs, and traditions; politics of the family meal; dietary transitions; psychological, cultural, and social determinants of taste; methodological issues in the food studies; malnutrition, hunger, and food security; commodity chain and foodshed analysis; food in fiction, film, and art; comparative food history; social and cultural dimensions of food technologies; political economy of the global food system; food studies pedagogy.

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