Jeffrey C. Kasch Foundation Research Trip: GJ Sevillano

My dissertation research has given me the opportunity to collect a wide range of cookbooks, recipe collections, and alimentary ephemera. Ranging from early 20th-century cooking manuals to contemporary Filipino American fusion cuisine books, this textual archive serves as the primary source for my dissertation, ““Ang Sarap, Sarap!”: Filipinx American Culinary Imaginations and Diasporic Gastropoetics.”

Utilizing the grant, I was able to begin digitizing these texts using a large format book and document scanner. The multi-language OCR that is embedded within the document scanner software is compatible in English, Tagalog, and Spanish, which are the languages most used in the cookbooks and recipes I examine for the dissertation. When scanning these cookbooks, recipes, and alimentary ephemera, I also extract qualitative data, such as the English/Tagalog/Spanish recipe names, gender of the chef-authors, ingredient lists, and cookery steps vital to the creation of different dishes. This qualitative data will help elucidate and evidence two major claims I make in my dissertation chapter tentatively titled, “Transpacific Kitchens: Gastrocartographies of the Philippine Diaspora.”

First, that Filipino Americans utilize foodways and food narratives as a way to negotiate their rhetorical and imagined racial and gender identities. In other words, food writing renders (in)visible how Filipinos experience cultural exchange, assimilation, naturalization, and resistance within and outside the diaspora. And second, Filipino foodways opens up discussions around not only the migration of Filipino bodies, but also the importation/exportation of Philippine cultural knowledges and transnational labor that continue to transform the everyday landscapes of diasporic life. It is my hope to pair this qualitative data with digital humanities software (Tableau) to construct visual tools (maps) to better assess alimentary narratives from beyond the page.

The grant has also given me the time and resource to prepare a paper presentation of a preliminary version of this chapter at the upcoming Association for Asian American Studies Conference in Seattle, WA. The theme of the conference is “Asian American Studies in the 2020s: Disciplinary, Ethnic, Diasporic Identities.” My panel is titled “Transnational Racialization, Empire, and Diasporic Identities in Asian/American Foodways.” I am excited to share my work-in-progress to get feedback from a diverse range of Asian American Studies scholars.

I am appreciative of the Kasch Foundation’s donation that helped fund the continuation of my dissertation research and further professionalization.