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Flavors of EmpireFood and the Making of Thai America$
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Mark Padoongpatt

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293731

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293731.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

“More Than a Place of Worship”

“More Than a Place of Worship”

Food Festivals and Thai American Suburban Culture

(p.118) Four “More Than a Place of Worship”
Flavors of Empire

Mark Padoongpatt

University of California Press

This chapter examines food festivals at the Wat Thai of Los Angeles, the first and largest Thai Buddhist temple in the nation, which was established in 1979, as a window on the relationship between food, race, and place in the suburbs during the 1980s. It charts Thai American suburbanization in the East San Fernando Valley near Wat Thai and traces the history of the temple, including how it evolved into a community space that became popular for its weekend food festivals. The festivals, which attracted thousands of visitors, fostered a public-oriented Thai American suburban culture that was a claim for a "right to the global city." The festivals, however, sparked complaints from a group of nearby residents, who used zoning laws to try to shut them down. The chapter contends that the residents who opposed the festivals articulated a liberal multiculturalism to maintain the white spatial imaginary of the neighborhood.

Keywords:   Wat Thai, Buddhist temple, suburbanization, San Fernando Valley, food festivals, suburban culture, global city, zoning, multiculturalism, spatial imaginary

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