Food contact zones and kitchen politics : migrant domestic helpers in Hong Kong

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

3 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-60
Journal / PublicationAsian anthropology
Issue number1
Online published11 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 2021


Making and sharing food plays an essential role in foreign domestic helpers’ work and leisure life. However, this has seldom been addressed in the voluminous migrant domestic helper literature. In Hong Kong, overseas helpers are employed in over three hundred thousand households. This article explores their food experiences in both their leisure and work spaces. It first examines the “contact zones” in which these workers share food with co-ethnics. It then considers the kitchen space in which foreign domestic workers serve their employers. It shows how these domestic helpers make use of their culinary skills to secure better human relationships and gain extra bargaining power through the provision of tasty ethnic dishes. Despite the immense power imbalance between the employer and the domestic helper, such food contact has shed light on the everyday resilience embedded in kitchen politics in Hong Kong.

Research Area(s)

  • Migrant domestic helpers, food contact zones, kitchen politics, culinary power, everyday resilience