Migrants from Hong Kong to Scotland: A study of food and identity
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The aim of this research is to further understand the role of food in constructing and expressing cultural identity, specifically in regards to individuals from Hong Kong who have relocated to Scotland. Behaviours around food and drink are nurtured and bound by our culture, often subtle and undetectable until being compared with a contrasting culture or the “other” that has differing norms and practices. In order to achieve the research aim, the study will investigate and compare both tangible and intangible aspects, in the environment prior to and after relocating, that may affect an individual’s ability to retain their existing ways and meaning of eating. Results showed that a majority of participants acknowledged the physical limitations of an “other” environment and did not find difficulty in mitigating these barriers, such as ease of procuring specific ingredients. Instead, participants found intangible aspects to be more challenging to replicate or recreate, as many nuances play a significant part in forming a whole. For example, the act of consuming festival foods, which in Hong Kong is often the means of collectively building a celebratory atmosphere in the community, was reattributed by some participants as a means of nostalgia and remembrance. Aside from cultural acts and behaviours being given new meaning and value, research results also implied that they are at risk of being lost, such as deeming ingredients that are inconvenient to get ahold of as being non-essential. An overall interpretation suggests that the strong presence of contrasting cultures in Hong Kong has led to its population in being knowledgable and having a high tolerance for “other” and foreign cuisines, therefore facilitating any transitional changes to their diet. Despite their immigration to Scotland, and any subsequent lifestyle changes, it is reported by most of the participants that they would retain their primary identity as being from Hong Kong.