Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Anthropology

First Advisor

Marc Moskowitz

Abstract

As globalization intensifies, human movement becomes increasingly common. A nuanced investigation into the processes of adjustment and community construction among relocated people is now more necessary to understand the effects of these processes on cultural ideology and behavior. My focus on a temporary migrant population of Thais in Washington, DC offers a new way to conceptualize what it means to be part of a diasporic community. Whereas previous work has dichotomized diasporic people and temporary migrants, my research shows that the line between these two categories is more blurred. To ground my claim, I examine Thai foodways and they way they manifest within this fluidly diasporic group. Based on data gathered during three months of participant observation, interviews, and surveys within a sample of twenty-five people, I found that cooking and eating are often the basis for social interactions between people in the Thai community. Ideas about food authenticity and cultural representation emerged in discussions of communal eating, Americanized Thai cuisine, and sharing Thai culture with Americans through food. Within this mixed group of transient migrants and permanently settled diaspora, there was a varied degree of exchange between Thai and American foodways.

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