Date of Award
Ryan Poll, Ph.D.
In August 2015, The Walt Disney Company announced its plans for two new 14-acre additions to their already expansive theme parks: Galaxy’s Edge. The new additions, which opened in the Summer of 2019, are themed as a never-before-seen planet within the multi-billion-dollar Star Wars franchise. Each park was designed to transport fans and tourists to a galaxy far, far way to experience foreign topographies, activities, adventures, and even food. This project looks at the representations of food and consumption across the Star Wars multimedia galaxy. Through exploring the menus circulating inside the Galaxy’s Edge theme park alongside Galaxy’s Edge tie-in novels, comic books, and the Galaxy’s Edge Official Cookbook, I place the ways in which Disney participates in the violences of neocolonialism, racism, and patriarchy through its representations of food and consumption. While this paper mostly concentrates on Galaxy' Edge and its tie-in media to think about food and colonialism in a galaxy far, far away, I first turn to the original 1977 film A New Hope to highlight how food and colonialism have been an animating ideology from the onset. Food can be a tool of oppression, patriarchy, and white supremacy, doing both the work of maintaining cultural heritage for some, and erasing it for others. In a White supremacist ideology, food and consumption is used to articulate racialized difference. In the United States, as with most of the West, the terms “ethnic” and “exotic” are used to describe foods considered Other—not White. Through the exotification of real-world ethnic cuisines, Disney and Star Wars Whitewashes food, erasing the food’s origins, histories, cultivation, production, and significance. Star Wars deracinates food from sites of racial and colonial violence and re-contextualizes it in a fictional universe that obscures the history of Western imperialism, colonialism, racism, and patriarchy. However, while the Star Wars multi-media franchise and its mythological, world-building enterprise continues to, in many ways, uphold the colonizing ideologies of this world, progressive authors with a different point of view have found a way to occupy and critique the franchise from within.
Juerjens, Katelyn, "The Politics of Colonial Authenticity: Food in a Galaxy Far, Far Away" (2020). University Honors Program Senior Projects. 11.