The meat of memory: chewing on the affective politics of The Satay Club, Singapore

Ms Kaylene Tan1

1University of Melbourne, BRUNSWICK, Australia


This paper explores the intersection between food, senses and place through the street food snack of satay. In Singapore, the dish of skewered meat is synonymous with The Satay Club, originally a cluster of hawkers in an alleyway in the 1940s that was subsequently relocated to a purpose-built hawker centre in an island-wide clean up in 1970. The name remained and the club was resurrected several times over in recent alfresco heritage developments.

Over the years, satay and the idea of a Satay Club has been intertwined with the city’s aspirations of progress, tourism development and heritage interpretation, where the satay experience is frequently invoked for purposes of culinary tourism and gastronomic authenticity. Concurrently, the Satay Club also exists as a ‘field of care’ (Tuan, 1974) for a particular generation, and embodies a powerful imagined gustatory landscape for others.

This paper firstly looks at how state-directed processes of urban control formalized the consumption and labour of street food. Then, focussing on The Satay Club, Esplanade (1970-1995), I examine the materiality of the dish and how the cooking and eating of it invites the persistence of nostalgia, that is both a resistance to, and recapitulation from the powers that be.


A PhD candidate at the Melbourne School of Design, Kaylene’s research focus is on the process of food heritage creation through place and the senses.

Traversing pedagogies of native Australian or endogenous foods

Dr Rosie Welch1

1Monash University, Melbourne, Australia


In recent years there has been a groundswell of interest for Australian native foods in culinary and cultural industries. Alongside this, recent school curriculum reform in Australia has developed explicit learning descriptors in relation to food production and consumption among Indigenous Australian’s prior to and following European settlement. For instance, the Victorian Food Studies Curriculum or the NSW Personal Development, Health and Physical Education syllabus requires that Indigenous foods are included in teaching and learning; asking students to recognise and research native foods. As a non-Indigenous researcher responsible for preparing initial teacher education students to develop pedagogies that include Indigenous histories and cultures across the curriculum as it intersects with health, arts and design education, I explore the epistemological challenges and opportunities for including ‘native foods’. Drawing on Ma Rhea’s (2018) theorisation of Indigenist pedagogies and endogenous foods, I examine the visibility and access to locally relevant resources and the types of sites that can support pedagogues navigate the diverse politics, publics, place and histories that are inseparable from historical and contemporary ‘native food’ practices. I also report on a media analysis of Indigenous foods and my own attempts to Indigenise a food and nutrition educational program.


Rosie is a Lecturer in health education. Her work has explored the formations of biography, popular culture, curriculum, social media and places of learning in teachers’ and young peoples’ meanings of health, the body, food and wellbeing.

From gastro nullius to ‘nourishing terrain’: preliminary reflections on decolonising gastronomy in Australia

Dr Kelly Donati1

1William Angliss Institute, Melbourne, Australia


The doctrine of terra nullius renders the Australian landscape as a blank canvas on which colonial narratives of conquest are inscribed. Within its logic, British agricultural practices and capitalist concepts of private property were taken as markers of human civilisation. The territorial dispossession of people that accompanied terra nullius has been accompanied by gastro nullius—the denial of an Aboriginal gastronomy, or cultural schema for eating and living well. Building on Deborah Bird Rose’s articulation of country as a ‘nourishing terrain’ (1996), this paper suggests Indigenous notions of ‘country’ enable a radically relational gastronomy to come into view, a multispecied cosmopolitics of abundance, joy and care creatively enacted through song, dance, art, harvest, hunting and commensality. Through this lens, Aboriginal gastronomy emerges as a rich cosmology comprising people, spirits, animals, plants and elements that sets out ethical and aesthetic parameters for good eating and the good life. This reframing of gastronomy is potentially generative for recognising the profound losses of colonial dispossession, but also acknowledging the ongoing pleasures experienced through the social and metabolic relations of country that have nourished Indigenous communities for millennia and from which there is much to be learned about re-imagining the human within geographies of gastronomy.


Kelly Donati coordinates and lectures in the Bachelor of Food Studies and Master of Food Systems and Gastronomy at William Angliss Institute. Her doctoral research developed the concept of multispecies gastronomy which explores the convivial and lively co-productive collaborations between humans and nonhumans in small-scale farming practice. She has published in the areas of multispecies gastronomy, food studies pedagogy, sustainability and urban food systems and is founding Chair of Sustain: the Australian Food Network.

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