Thursday, November 7, 2019

[Presentation] 41st UGAT Conference - Deciphering a non-meal

At the 41st UGAT Conference in the Visayas State University,  Baybay, Leyte, I presented a paper reflecting on the notion of 'pantawid-gutom', drawing from fieldwork among young people who use drugs and low-income urban communities. The abstract is as follows:

Pantawid-gutom’ literally means ‘to bridge hunger’ and refers to a range of food and non-food products and practices that allow people to survive in between what the cultural historian Doreen Fernandez calls “serious meals”. What makes a good ‘pantawid-gutom’, and what does its existence as a liminal category between ‘food' / ‘non-food’ or ‘serious' / ‘unserious meal' signify, particularly for the over 2 million Filipino families who experience hunger on a regular basis?

Drawing on my fieldwork in low-income urban communities in Luzon and from a review of the scholarly and popular literature, I use local conceptions of ‘pantawid-gutom’ - hitherto overlooked in the scholarship - as a starting point for exploring the lived reality of food insecurity in the country. The efficacy of ‘pantawid-gutom’, I argue, is both material and symbolic, providing temporary relief from the feeling of hunger - and allowing people to suspend their ideas of what is good to eat while maintaining the hope that their predicament itself is something that they can bridge.