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Saturday, February 03, 2018

Hate/Love for Foreign Food: Neophilia, Neophobia and Globalization

Richard Wilk

Indiana University

Richard Wilk is Professor of Anthropology and Gender Studies at Indiana University. An economic anthropologist and cultural ecologist, he has worked in Belize for 35 years, and has published edited collections on household economies, beauty pageants, food systems, and metaphors of culture change, and several monographs. He maintains a website at and manages an international email discussion group on global consumer culture and the environment.


The attraction of foreign goods and fashions is often a volatile and controversial issue for countries as they become more firmly enmeshed in global media and trade systems. On one hand they offer excitement and the allure of difference, but they can also come to represent the weakness of local culture, the decay of indigenous traditions, and a loss of authenticity and identity. This paper works towards an understanding of why the foreign appears sometimes so alluring, and other times so threatening. Food and cuisine are used to illustrate the major points.

In physical terms a hamburger is a relatively simple object – a cooked patty of ground meat inserted into a round bun. But culturally and politically, the hamburger has proven to be as complex and powerful as any of the electronic devices like cell phones which are transforming our world. What could give such a simple foodstuff an allure which attracts millions every day to eat something which has never before been part of their cuisine or way of life? And what could make the same hamburger so dangerous that politicians give impassioned speeches against it, and people go out to demonstrate in the streets to stop it being served?
The hamburger is just one of the many objects, symbols, and people set in motion by the forces of globalization, which are capable of arousing strong passions, provoking new kinds of conflict. But food and cuisine are an exceptionally fertile way to understand and trace the way that globalization works, both as an objective cultural and economic phenomenon, and as a rhetorical field where a number of interests converge. This is because food is always both a physical substance which can be traced from origin to consumption and at the same time an object of intense emotional concern that is full of cultural meaning, so it is always a matter of public debate. Food is always embodied material culture- it enters our bodies and becomes part of us in an intimate way beyond any other thing we consume. This means that food is always deeply connected to our conceptions of health and wellbeing, and it therefore unavoidably connects meaningful symbols with practicalities and the hard facts of existence. From the standpoint of a social scientist food also has the great advantage of being a universal topic, something almost everyone is willing to talk about, and sharing meals is always an entry point to wider social understanding.
The literature on food in the social sciences has tended to concentrate on the positive ways that meals and sharing food brings people together in social collectivities. Food binds and integrates, and a cuisine cements social identity. But food also expresses (and sometimes causes) cultural conflict, rebellion, and disunity, and meals can also be events which cause pain and alienation – topics which have all been relatively neglected by scholars.  
The negative potential of food as an element in social conflict is especially apparent in modern globalizing industrial food systems where the sources and quality of food are increasingly invisible to consumers (see Lien and Nerlich 2004). We are all familiar with many recent cases where real or imagined adulteration or contamination has led to widespread fear about the safety of food. Anxiety about science and technological change is often expressed through protests and arguments about the genetic, chemical, or radiation content of foodstuffs. And hostility towards immigrants or foreign cultural influence may also focus on particular kinds of cuisine, or a chain of restaurants. Throughout the world, for example, first Coca-cola and then McDonalds became symbols of American cultural imperialism, and attracted hostility and protest ranging from Charles De Gaul’s  withdrawal from NATO (Kuisel 1993) to mass demonstrations against the opening of a McDonalds outlet in Oaxaca, Mexico (Weiner 2002, Pilcher 2006). Two centuries prior, American colonists were dumping British tea into Boston harbor and switching to drinking coffee at home in protest of an earlier sort of colonialism.
In the central American/Caribbean country of Belize, where I have been doing research for thirty-five years now, one of the consequences of recent trends in global migration has been a large influx of immigrants from Hong Kong and mainland Chinese. Some have been quite prosperous and have built large housing estates and businesses, while others have scratched out a living in small shops and restaurants.[1] At the peak of the migration in the late 1990s, as the country was going through other wrenching economic and social changes, many local people, particularly those in business and government, complained that the Chinese were buying all the valuable real estate in the country. Few noted that locally born Belizeans were making a lot of money selling their property to the Chinese; they accused “those aliens” (as the Chinese were increasingly called, along with other recent immigrants) of “taking over the place.”
The popular side of hostility towards Chinese immigration was often expressed through complaints about their food. While Chinese restaurants have been popular in all Belizean towns for well over a century, the new wave of immigrants opened take-away stands offering small portions of fried chicken and other familiar foods at very low prices. The low price of “dolla fry chiken” made it immensely popular, and extremely controversial. Public health officials blamed the Chinese for rising rates of high blood pressure and diabetes. Newspaper articles decried the way cheap Chinese fried chicken was debasing traditional cuisine, and driving Belizean restaurants out of business. 
In 1996 I listened to a morning radio call-in show, a very popular form of entertainment in Belize, during which several callers in a row complained that children were growing up eating too much Chinese fried chicken. Callers gave graphic accounts of greasy and disgusting servings of chicken they had been served, and passed along stories they had heard about how some pieces were not chicken at all, but cats, rats and other animals. Callers talked freely of how “those Chinee people” were getting rich and building big houses by selling unhealthy food to Belizean children. The Chinese were killing off all the black people, who were already declining as a proportion of the population.  One of the program’s hosts pointed out that Belize was a nation of immigrants, and many of the Chinese were not aliens, but Belizean citizens. This changed the nature of the conversation for a while, as people tried to distinguish the “good Chinese” from the “bad.”
I heard this same kind of ugly discourse about Chinese chicken from friends and acquaintances in public and private during the 1990s while I was working in Belize. People who did not seem at all nationalistic on other issues, would suddenly get angry, sometime furious, when I mentioned Chinese fried chicken, and it would spark a diatribe against immigrants and their impact on Belize. Other immigrant groups did not get the same kind of reaction. On the contrary, the German-speaking Mennonites were often complimented or spoken of favorably because they  were seen as hard-working farmers who produced a great deal of the country’s food (including, ironically, all of those cheap chickens which the Chinese cook). And there are other kinds of foreign food which have been instantly accepted by Belizeans, who have a long history of culinary syncretism and creolization (Wilk 2006).
Belize is a highly diverse, multi-ethnic country which has traditions of accepting immigrants, but clearly there are limits to what people there are willing to tolerate. While scholars of globalization have been praising creolization, hybridity, and cosmopolitan mixing of cultures, a very large number of people around the world have reacted to globalization with xenophobia, rejection, and a search for historical purity and authenticity.

Neophobia and Neophilia

Why and when does the flow of people and cuisine produce hostility, fear and disgust, as opposed to openness towards the exotic, or even fascination, faddism and interest? Mintz (1996) has suggested that there is something of a paradox when it comes to public attitudes of like and dislike towards local and foreign foods, for at times foodways and diet appear deeply rooted in longstanding and rigid cultural patterns and at other times they seem completely and suddenly changeable. So, for example, Ohnukey-Tierney tells us that rice eating is fundamentally connected to being Japanese, to the point where there is a spiritual identity between rice and personhood (1993). But then, what are we to make of a recent generation of Japanese teenagers who hardly eat rice at all? Have they stopped being Japanese? And Mintz points out that Americans who once thought of raw fish as inedible and disgusting, and Japanese food as tasteless and laughable, switched in a relatively short period of time into the largest sushi-consuming country in the world.
It is clear therefore that sometimes, and for some people, protecting food traditions and keeping them the same, rooted in time and place, can mean a great deal.  McDonalds as a symbol of Americanization threatens French cultural identity, and drinking Cola instead of wine erodes the distinctiveness of what it means to be French rather than just European.  Even recently invented food traditions can be a vehicle for national discovery, as Appadurai documents in his study of the way the Indian nation was mapped and solidified by the writing of regional cookbooks in the postcolonial period (1988). My own work in Belize shows how the country has discovered and reinvented itself partially through the medium of discovering its own distinctive cuisine.  A hundred ethnographies and thousands of novels, films, songs and even dances celebrate the close ties between a people and their favorite dishes.
The focus on local cuisine is often bolstered by local food historians, and efforts to protect traditional sources of ingredients, or preserve particular bakeries, mills, or farms. Government subsidies may be turned to maintaining traditional varieties of crops, banking seeds, or granting protection by recognizing local trademarks, names, or appellations. In the USA activists make highly-publicized efforts to live for extended periods eating nothing produced outside their own home region (eg. Nabham 2002). The explosive growth of local-food initiatives in the USA so far seems to be free of any overt political hostility to foreign cuisine or immigrants, but it seems hardly coincidental that it is taking place at the same time that anti-immigration activism is also a growing political movement, including for the first time an attempt to build a massive physical barrier along the Mexican border. A careful reading of some of the founding texts of the local food movement reveals more than a trace of xenophobia, including a statement that no country can be truly independent if it depends on other countries for food (Berry 1999).
But food is also entertainment, and cooking and eating a particular cuisine does not necessarily have anything to do with identity at all. When I ask my undergraduate students if eating in a Chinese restaurant makes them feel Chinese, they laugh.  Eating out in an ethnic restaurant can be no more than entertainment, or a source of variety, completely superficial.  Foreign food can be kept at a safe distance, so that eating pizza, sushi, of Argentine steak has no more cultural significance than the fact that coffee and bananas comes from South America, or chocolate from Africa. Clearly, this is much easier if you belong to a rich and powerful country, a place which can pick and choose, rather than one where foreign influence is forced down your throat by a dominating or colonial power.
At the other end of the scale, there are many people who actively seek foreign food, who find it exciting, interesting, exotic and enticing. For hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years familiarity and comfort with foreign food has been part of the repertoire of sophistication in most civilizations, one of the essentials of cultural capital which distinguishes the educated and experienced and gives them cultural capital. French cuisine has been the dominant international standard for so long that elements of French technique have been absorbed and indigenized into most national traditions. Like French ideas of diplomacy and etiquette, French cuisine is also the basis for the modern international standards found all over the world embedded in state institutions, tourism, and business.
Cuisine is of course part of an important business, and promoting a variety of cuisines is a major way of growing the size of the consuming public. The “foodie” industry and press are well established in Europe and the United States, and are rapidly growing in Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. A large part of the population in North American cities reads the daily food press, tries out new restaurants, and searches for new cuisines and taste sensations. They create add-on markets for ingredients, implements, and cooking classes, and feed the rapid growth of the food-tourism industry, which takes diners out into the world to experience exotic food first hand. This is an important economic force promoting food neophilia, the desire to experience new taste sensations.

Globalization and the status of Local Culture

When we talk about globalization, modernization, rapid cultural change, an influx of people, ideas, media or culture, the silent assumption which always lies beneath the surface is that the opposite of these terms is somehow normal. In other words, when we say that globalization is the exception, we are silently affirming that a normal world is a local one, a place where people and things stay in one place, where ideas are stable and relatively static. This is a commonplace assumption in food studies, where scholars generally begin with the idea that every place has its own local culinary customs, established through immemorial custom and steeped in time. The “indigenous” is the natural pre-existing state, which make the “foreign” into something eternally new, always anomalous and dangerous. Anthropologists working in Africa and Latin America have been attacking these ideas over the last few decades, arguing that both local and foreign are equally constructed, historically contingent, and always changing. But from the vantage point of Europe and Asia with their long literate traditions, the idea that each place has its own terroir, its folk culture, rooted in the historical past is still accepted as self-evident by most people, even if they strongly disagree over just what that local culture really is.
This is why recent historical research on the European origins of the concept of the “indigenous” is particularly exciting; it shows how earlier periods of globalization were responsible for the very invention of our ideas of local culture, local nature, terroir, and all the cultural superstructures like cuisines which have been erected around them. Buried deep in European history, an early struggle between neophobics and neophilics created a shower of ideas and concepts which became the taken-for-granted bedrock of the ideology through which their descendents see the world, as well as the way today’s social scientists analyze it.
In the 1520s, Paracelsus, a German-speaking itinerant preacher and medical entrepreneur living in what is now part of Switzerland, wrote a book titled “Herbarius,” or a treatise “Concerning the Powers of the Herbs, Roots, Seeds, Etc., of the Native Land and Realm of Germany.”  As the historian Alix Cooper explains in her recent book Inventing the Indigenous (2007), Paracelsus was partially motivated to write this work by his anger with the prevailing scholarly tradition of his time, a mishmash of recycled and disorganized classical and medieval medical sources, many of which came from Catholic southern Europe, particularly Italy.
But a major impetus that sparked Paracelsus, and his followers who invented a robust tradition of herbalism and local natural history, were the deeply unsettling emotions raised by an influx of foreign medicine – the consequence of overseas exploration and international trade (in short, early forms of globalization). Cooper quotes Paracelsus:

Moreover, there are in Germany so many more and better medicines than are to be found in Arabia, Chaldaea, Persia, and Greece that it would be more reasonable for the peoples of such places to get their medicines from us Germans, than for us to receive medicines from them. Indeed, these medicines are so good, that neither Italy, France, nor any other realm can boast of better ones. That this has not come to light for such a long time is the fault of Italy, the mother of ignorance and inexperience. [2]

Later writers in this tradition went on to elaborate the doctrine that because Germans were the product of German climate, food and nature, only German herbs and medicines could effectively cure them of their ills. While Cooper does not stretch this point in her book, it is not hard to see the historical connection forward to notions of Geist and Volk which romantically identified a unique spirit of a people with their place of origin. It is also not too hard to see a pecuniary interest on the part of local herbalists and healers, whose livelihoods were threatened by an influx of exotic medicines imported and sold by urban merchants. Why should we be consuming stale, possibly contaminated, mysteriously foreign goods which have passed through the hands of strangers, sold by rich urban merchants, when we could be using the products of our own soil, our own people, sold by honest country folk? The eye of suspicion is cast at those over-sophisticated urban people who follow fashion, use the latest imported goods, and in the process may be weakening the German essence within themselves, or perhaps even within society at large.
Cooper herself is concerned with tracing how this nativist herbal tradition fed the nascent science of natural history, and its establishment within European universities at a crucial time. She makes a convincing argument that the impetus to invent the local and indigenous as a counterpoint to the foreign was a key foundation in the origin of western natural science, particularly the classifications of plants and animals which were later codified by Linnaeus.
As far as I know, nobody has traced the connection of early herbalism to the development of cooking, or to nascent ideas about German culinary identity. But that is not really important for my broader point – even in Europe the cultural definition of the local and national was historically part of the process of globalization itself. When people are exposed to foreign goods, especially novel ones which challenge culturally important consumption practices, some will always react by inventing tradition.[3] This means they will choose some subset of existing practice and codify it, grace it with a title, and establish it as a standard. As I argued more generally in a study of Mayan ethnohistory, tradition often crystallizes and takes a ‘timeless’ form at times of cultural crisis when people perceive their way of life to be under attack (Wilk 1991).
The unique contribution of the herbalists of sixteenth century Germany was to establish nature, geography and classificatory natural science as the legitimizing principles of their concept of local tradition. Later in the eighteenth century, European antiquarians, historians, folklorists, archaeologists, and ethnologists developed sciences which used time as a legitimizing trope, usually connected to notions of lineage and kinship.[4]  Time and nature, kinship and geography, remain the intellectual foundations on which most ideas of tradition and locality are built, though today they are so firmly embedded in daily habits of thought that they largely go unchallenged and can be used unreflectively and without justification. It is only possible to say that Parmesan cheese is a part of the identity of the city of Parma because “it has been made there by the same line of cheese makers from unique local ingredients since time immemorial,” because of the centuries of intellectual work which makes statements like this seem quite natural and reasonable. But they are not.
Instead, as Paracelsus’ example demonstrates, an awareness of the value of the local grows only in the presence of an alternative, and not just any alternative. If nobody was attracted by the allure of the foreign, the local would be in no danger and there would be no need to protect it. The only reason one would have to make noise about the normal daily bread on the table, is if it appears about to be replaced by rice, noodles, or corn flakes. The important spice which makes that daily bread suddenly worthy of an ideology is fear that something is going to be lost, and this is exactly the same spice which makes exotic food seem dangerous and unhealthy. But why should the same taste appear so enticing in some settings, and repellent in others?

Winners, Losers and Social Competition

Anthropologists, ancient historians and archaeologists have long been interested in the impetus which drives people to want foreign goods. Looking back into prehistory, it is sometimes possible to find justifications based on “simple” utilitarian arguments. For example, ancient civilizations in flood plain areas sometimes lacked hard stone for making tools, and other areas suffered shortages of salt or other critical minerals and this served as an impetus to trade (Rathje 1972). But early civilizations traded much more than utilitarian stone and salt. Ancient trade routes moved huge quantities of products which cannot be seen as immediately “useful;” sea shells, brightly colored stones, decorated pottery, sculpture, cosmetics, beads, decorative metal, hides, ivory, fine cloth, worked bone, incense, spices, saps or gums, oils, and wine.  What made these materials and objects so desirable that people were willing to work hard to make things to trade for them, to engage with strangers in what might be dangerous transactions, or to travel long distances?
Kent Flannery (1968) was the first archaeologist to notice that growth in early trade was always closely correlated with the rise of social hierarchy, in other words, with the origins of inherited class differentiation among societies which had previously been homogeneous farming villages with no status differences.  He argued that when social inequality was emerging in small-scale societies, those who were seeking to establish their power sought exotic goods, especially the kinds of goods which had symbolic power, particularly if they had already been adopted by a more powerful distant civilization. In local small-scale struggles over land, water, kinship, labor and other resources, foreign objects can have tremendous symbolic power.
This, Flannery said, is why early art styles spread so rapidly over large areas, a point amplified by Mary Helms in an encyclopedic study of the symbolic power of imported goods in chiefly societies in the ethnohistorical  record of the Americas (1988). Simply put, foreign goods become the tokens of power and sophistication. A local status system emerges where styles and fashions “trickle down” from the elite which controls their importation. There may even be sumptuary laws which restrict the consumption of the highest valued goods to nobility. One can point to many historic examples; the way the Japanese elite imported Chinese writing, religion, and court culture at the peak of their power struggles for hegemony over the island in the sixth century AD, or the popularity of Greek art among aspiring elites throughout the eastern Mediterranean in the “Hellenistic” period.[5] 
While in its barest form Flannery’s argument is simplistic, it is a powerful tool for understanding one of the forces which drives neophilia, the thirst for the foreign. In any sociopolitical system, established power rests to some extent on control of property and knowledge, rooted in history, family and place, a source which is inherently conservative and self-perpetuating. At the same time, within any system there are also factions, divisions, and subordinate groups which seek advancement and advantage, particularly during times of instability and transition. This is all we need to create opportunities for the interplay between neophobia and neophilia; people whose status and position is threatened by imported goods, trends, and fashions which they do not control, and those who stand to benefit from the same.
Of course the reality is more complex. Perhaps in the early stages of the development of civilization there was a real potential for foreign objects and ideologies to really cause revolutionary change. We can certainly point to the spread of the worlds “great religions” like Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam as events when such sweeping social transformations were often prompted by foreign ideas. But most political regimes quickly learned to gain tight control over trade and contact across their borders, so the play between localists and globalists was largely carried out among factions within existing powerful classes, taking away its potential for causing social revolution.  By the Sixteenth century, most European elites had found ways to control and accommodate consumer culture in ways which were hardly threatening to the established order of things. The rich and parts of the new middle classes became “fashion leaders” who pioneered new consumption trends for items like coffee, sugar, magazines, novels, musical instruments, appliances, toys, and cosmetics, which gradually diffused downward through the social scale as they became cheaper.  The intellectual classes became the main arbiters for the entry of foreign music, art, ideology and decorative crafts.
In this way, over time some kinds of foreign products and styles become ‘legitimate’ and familiar (under control), like French cuisine and Italian opera for example, while other kinds are dangerous and threaten the established order. Subordinate groups may seize on these “illegitimate” foreign fashions and goods as symbols of rebellion – though because these are real goods with real economic value, a change in fashion may truly have a destabilizing economic impact by changing mass consumption patterns.  When middle-class Austrian youth in the early 1950s began to buy American clothes and music, as their passion for American pop music developed, they did more than outrage the taste of the established elite; they also created new economic niches and industries and developed new forms of consumer culture (Wagnleitner 1994).
Concluding thoughts
When Belize was still a British colony, the European styles of cuisine favored by the local elite were considered the only legitimate form of cooking for public events, weddings, and other festivities. The rituals of European dining were performed at formal dinners at the Governor’s residence, in the homes of diplomats and other members of the upper crust, in clubs, and in one or two restaurants in the hotels deemed fit for foreign visitors. Even if the actual food that was served could rarely meet European standards, because so much of it came from tins and stale packages, it was served “correctly” and eaten with the proper ceremony. The same standards were displayed and taught to the public in diverse settings, including church events like ice cream socials and tea parties, and the balls and dances held by fraternal and Masonic lodges.
The firm cultural hegemony of British high culture was policed by the thorough censorship of foreign films and press, and tight import controls which were aimed particularly at keeping out American popular culture. These controls all began to crumble during the 1970s as more and more Belizeans began to migrate to the USA, and colonial control of local government gave way to self-rule by a nationalist party. The advent of satellite television in the early 1980s completely changed the balance of cultural power, giving the vast majority of Belizeans access to many new kinds of popular culture, sparking a dramatic increase in the consumption of foreign music, fashion, food and consumer goods.
Many different groups in the country found this influx dangerous and frightening, and there was a great deal of agitation by church, state, and the educational establishment to restrict television programming.  The stage was set for a continuing interplay between neophilia and neophobia. But it is important to note two key aspects of this counterpoint, as different groups coalesce around positions of loyalty to the indigenous, and enthusiasm for the imported in different cultural arenas.
First, the coalitions and positions, and indeed the kinds of objects and goods which arouse strong emotions and political discourse are constantly changing. Baseball, seen in the early 1980s by many working class Belizeans as an alien sport, whose popularity was endangering the traditional sports of cricket and soccer, has receded into the background and achieved a loyal, but limited following mainly as a spectator sport to be watched on television. American hip hop and rap music provoked a similar reaction amongst different groups later in the decade; a strong revival of Belizean musical traditions in the 1990s, which even saw Belizean artists achieve success in international venues, seems to have set many of these anxieties to rest.
Second, new technologies and means of communication constantly seem to threaten to undercut and destroy the social order through which fashion and taste are controlled, yet social order persists. The opening of borders, the arrival of new immigrants, a flush of new prosperity, satellite television and the internet all seem to promise completely new avenues for people to find new tastes, new styles of consumption, which do not “trickle down” through a status hierarchy from above, or flow through the tastemaking channels of a local artistic or cultural elite. Why bother with the local provincial elites if you can watch MTV and see what people in New York and Hollywood are wearing, eating, drinking, and dancing to? The internet offers access to every cuisine in the world for the aspiring food neophiliac. Could this be the end of any organized fashion system, a world of free lifestyle choices where each individual crafts their own consumption from a global smorgasbord of options?
Nothing of the sort is about to happen, for the basic reasons that consumption is always embodied and socialized. Consumption is more than simply a matter of choice; as Bourdieu effectively argued, it is embodied through what he called hexis, the daily habitus which tells us what tastes and feels right. This is why we feel ridiculous wearing the wrong colors, and uncomfortable eating a food at the wrong time of day. It does not prevent us from changing our behavior, but it provides a kind of friction, a drag on choice and change which means we cannot simply decide to switch diets or transform our mode of dress overnight without paying a substantial cost. No matter how weary we may be of familiar routines, following them is usually a lot easier than changing them, unless of course everyone else in your circle is also changing at the same time. And this is the crux of the socialized, communal aspect of all consumption, that we do it as much for and with others as for ourselves. Though everyone in a consumer society seeks a sort of individuality, in daily practice they seek to fit in with familiar groups, to do what is socially acceptable. Your curiosity may lead you to try eating Laotian vegetarian food, but unless you find others who share your passion, it is unlikely that you will continue for long. The vast spaces of choice opened up by new media and the internet have really opened up new niches for professional tastemakers, critics, and fashion leaders, who broker, translate and channel consumption trends in ways which often appear strikingly traditional, rather than transformative.
This has not been a complete answer to my starting question – why should a hamburger arouse such strong passions? But it does suggest that by the time one has finished making a detailed study of the political and social meaning of the hamburger in any particular time and place, public attention will have already moved onward to some other significant object of both desire and fear.

References Cited

Appadurai, Arjun  1988 How to Make a National Cuisine: Cookbooks in Contemporary India. Comparative Studies in Society and History 30(1): 3-24.

Berry, Wendell 1999 ‘The Pleasures of Eating’. in Consumer Society in American History: a Reader,  Lawrence Glickman, ed., Ithaca: Cornell University Press. p. 367-372. Originally published in his 1990, What are People For? New York: North Point Press.

Flannery, Kent V.  1968 ‘The Olmec and the Valley of Oaxaca: A Model for Inter-                Regional Interaction in Formative Times’. in E. Benson (ed) 

Dumbarton Oaks Conference on the Olmec. pp. 79-117. Washington D.C. : Dumbarton Oaks.

Helms, Mary 1988 Ulysses' Sail: An Ethnographic Odyssey of Power, Knowledge, and Geographical Distance.  Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. 

Hobsbawm, E., & Ranger, T. (Eds.) 1983 The Invention of Tradition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kuisel, Richard  1993 Seducing the French: The Dilemma of Americanization. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Lien, Marianne, and Brigitte Nerlich, eds. 2004 The Politics of Food. Oxford: Berg.

Mintz, Sidney 1996 Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom. Boston: Beacon Press.

Moran, Bruce T. “The Herbarius of Paracelsus,” Pharmacy in History 35 (I993): 99-I27.

Ohnuki-Tierney, Emiko, 1993 Rice as Self. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Pilcher, Jeffrey M. 2006 Taco Bell, Maseca, and Slow Food: A Postmodern Apocalypse for Mexico’s Peasant Cuisine? In Wilk, Richard (ed.), Fast Food/Slow Food. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press.

Rathje, W. L. 1972 Praise the Gods and Pass the Metates: An Hypothesis of the Development of Lowland Rainforest Civilizations in Mesoamerica. In Contemporary Archaeology: An Introduction to Theory and Contributions, M. P. Leone, ed., pp. 365-392. Carbondale, IL, Southern Illinois University Press.

Wagnleitner, Reinhold 1994 Coca-Colonization and the Cold War. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Weiner, Tim  2002 Mexicans Resisting McDonald’s Fast Food Invasion. New York Times, August 24.

Wilk, Richard 1991 Household Ecology: Economic Change and Domestic Life among the Kekchi Maya of Belize. Arizona Studies in Human Ecology, University of Arizona Press.

Wilk, Richard 2004 “Miss Universe, the Olmec, and the Valley of Oaxaca.” Journal of Social Archaeology 4(1):81-98.

Wilk, Richard 2006 Home Cooking in the Global Village. Belize City and London: Angelus Press and Berg Publishers.

[1] At various times in the late 1980s and 90s the Belize government had a program which offered citizenship to immigrants who paid US$50,000 and agreed to invest in the country, which was a major incentive for those seeking to flee the impending Chinese takeover of Hong Kong. It is also much easier to get a tourist visa or green card to enter the USA from Belize than from China, so Belize became a stopover for prospective emigrants to the USA. Political controversy within Belize over the ‘sale of citizenship’ contributed to some hostility to Chinese immigrants, but it is important to remember that many Chinese families have been established in Belize since the nineteenth century.
[2]Cooper 2007:27, quoting the translation of Paracelsus by Moran 1993:104.
[3] Hobsbawm and Ranger suggest that this is one of the reasons why traditions are invented in their introduction to their book of the same name (1983).
[4] It is ironic that as archaeology and prehistory advanced as sciences, they proved that nothing about human culture in Europe could be seen as truly “indigenous.” Agriculture came from the east, civilization from the south, and repeated migration and population movements obscure any attempt to read modern nations back into the past, despite the efforts of nationalists to manipulate the facts. Everything about origins and locality depends on the size of the time frame, and ultimately all humans are Africans.
[5] I discuss some further contemporary parallels in Wilk (2004).

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