In ““Bodies Made of Bread”” I theorize eating as an intimate site through which power, in particular, the power that upheld the nineteenth-century United States' investment in imperial rhetoric and action, was both instantiated and undermined. Using the dietetic writings of nineteenth-century reformer and anti-masturbation campaigner Sylvester Graham, I assess the body politics that lurk behind the highly socialized but insistently naturalized act of eating. Eating in Graham's work is a quotidian act through which fictions of racial and gendered embodiment are upheld; through comparison to South Pacific islanders and other European colonists, Graham imagines an ideal American-ness which is founded upon the imperial fantasy of Euro-American indigeneity and regulated through the daily consumption of wheat and other ““farinaceous”” foods.
Sylvester Graham's Imperial Dietetics
kyla wazana tompkins is an assistant professor of gender and women's studies and English at Pomona College in Los Angeles. A former food writer and journalist, she is presently completing a book manuscript titled ““Stomaching Difference: Eating and Racial Formation in the Nineteenth Century.””
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kyla wazana tompkins; Sylvester Graham's Imperial Dietetics. Gastronomica 1 February 2009; 9 (1): 50–60. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2009.9.1.50
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