The flavour of history: Food, family and subjectivity in two Indo-European women's memoirs

Susanne Protschky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines two autobiographies written by women with family connections to the former Netherlands Indies (colonial Indonesia): (Schenkhuizen, 1993) and (Schaapman, 2007). Particular attention is given to the customs surrounding the preparation, consumption and distribution of food within these women's families, practices that illuminate the formation and expression of identities across generations of Indo-European migrants, and between the colonial and post-colonial periods. Studies of colonial identity often essentially focus on how aspirations for group membership are expressed. Such emphasis can exaggerate the stasis and cohesion of colonial cultures at the expense of a more nuanced analysis of the varied, sometimes contradictory range of identities that exist within specific historical contexts. To approach identity and subjectivity as related but not necessarily congruent constructs provides significant insight into how ethnic identities that were formed in a family context altered in response to twentieth century decolonisation. The memoirs examined demonstrate that subjectivities formed with reference to foodways in Indo-European (Indo) families were gendered and raced. The colonial identities that were informed by these subjectivities found new and altered expression in the post-colonial era.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-385
JournalThe History of the Family
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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