Cultural Seminar: A Social History of Chili Pepper in China

1:00pm - 3:00pm / Monday 21st October 2019
Type: Seminar / Category: Department / Series: Confucius Institute
  • Admission: Free. Register via Eventbrite
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This presentation offers a concise social, cultural and political history of chili pepper in China, noting its entanglement in broader historical developments in China. In the 17th century, chili pepper was not seen as a food, but instead as a decorative plant in coastal China. In the 18th century, chili pepper was ‘rediscovered’ as a food in southwest China, in part as a result of shortages of salt. In the 19th century, chili pepper gained popularity among mountainous people in south China, promoted by an agricultural revolution, and was often labelled as a ‘condiment for the poor’. The 20th century was a century of revolution in China. Chili pepper came to be viewed as the ‘colour’ of the communist revolution: it swept across China and overthrew other food options, becoming the most favoured condiment in the new era of migration in China. This presentation will use the case of chili pepper to explore the place of foodscapes in social life and to better understand how wider social histories can be accessed by starting with everyday food. Full details (including registration)