New publication by Elizabeth Collins: ‘Le Riz d’Indochine’ at the French Table

When the repas gastronomique des Français was deemed worthy of a place on UNESCO’s Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2010, the decision was hailed as a triumph for cultural diversity. Yet, culinary traditions in France remain persistently rooted in legacies of colonialism that are invisible to many. With this in mind, this article examines the enduring symbolic power of French cuisine alongside colonial notions of race through an analysis of the tropes and procedures of a 1932 board game doubling as an advertisement for ‘Indochinese Rice’ in France. I argue that just as French citizens learned from the game to incorporate rice into their daily eating habits, they also learned how to integrate visibly racialized Vietnamese people into the national body politic. For not only are citizens ‘buying into’ the colonial project with the help of this piece of publicity, the board game actively teaches racist colonial ideologies. Building on extant analyses of colonial ephemera, this article considers how notions of ‘race’ and racism against the Vietnamese were learned by French citizens through food, and how that racialized understanding would influence the reception and assimilation of the Vietnamese in France in the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Read the article: Elizabeth Collins, “‘Le Riz d’Indochine’ at the French table: representations of food, race and the Vietnamese in a colonial-era board game”

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