Searching for the Spice: On Chinese Diaspora’s Food Practice in Helsinki, Finland


In this research project, I examined the ever-changing interconnected relations between immigrants’ identity construction, food practice and the broader social formations in their respective adopted countries. The main research questions were guided by this vision: Are food practices of Chinese diaspora in Helsinki facilitating the construction of a new, creolized, hybrid “Chinese-abroad identity”? To what extent, is such (re)constructed identity contested by and integrated into the broader socio-economic setting of Helsinki? My intended way to approach this project was to bring one essential daily practice of humanity to “actions”, in a real-life scenario: food practice, with this concern, became my favored key to unlock “the identity codes of Chinese diaspora”. This research project followed a pivotal inquiry centering the tension and contradiction which imbricates the structure of diasporic identity: creolization (multiculturalism) and homogenization (globalization). After conducting two-month ethnographic fieldwork, I have concluded some preliminary findings. The diasporic identity is interesting for its complexity, the simplistic approach of stressing exclusively on the “rootlessness” and “aestheticizing” aspect of it does not facilitate the wholistic understanding of Chinese diaspora from a less ahistorical and less apolitical lens: diaspora is both ethnic-parochial and cosmopolitan, the tension between which creates and redefines diasporic identity and its community building process.

Author Information
Pinqing Wu, Tallinn University, Estonia

Paper Information
Conference: IICAHHawaii2017
Stream: Humanities - Ethnicity, Difference, Identity

This paper is part of the IICAHHawaii2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon