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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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Thailand’s “77th Province”

Thailand’s “77th Province”

Culinary Tourism in Thai Town

(p.147) Five Thailand’s “77th Province”
Flavors of Empire

Mark Padoongpatt

University of California Press

Chapter 5 explores "Thai Town" in East Hollywood (established in 1999) to highlight the role of culinary tourism in Thai American struggles for a right to the global city. It charts the history of Thai Town's development as a product of Thai community leaders, specifically the Thai Community Development Center, and Los Angeles city officials’ attempt to parlay Thai cuisine's popularity into political visibility, civic engagement, social justice activism, and urban redevelopment. While playing on cuisine-driven multiculturalism allowed Thais to use food, specifically culinary tourism, to root identity and community in a physical place, the chapter argues that heritage commodification in Thai Town also constricted a right to the global city, because it was geared toward a neoliberal vision of multiculturalism that sought to highlight the position of Los Angeles in the global capitalist economy. The chapter also includes a discussion of the 1995 El Monte slave-labor case.

Keywords:   Thai Town, East Hollywood, culinary tourism, political visibility, civic engagement, neoliberal, heritage commodification, cuisine driven multiculturalism, urban redevelopment, El Monte

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