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The Problematic Representations of the Orient, Women, and Food Transformations in Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Windup Girl

Jungyoun Kim


Paolo Bacigalupi’s novel, The Windup Girl, illustrates Bangkok using genetic diseases and plagues. In this work, mass-produced, genetically modified food becomes both a diplomatic weapon and subsistence for survival. Western-based multinational agri-corporations transform food as industrial products, and Bacigalupi in turn illustrates the problems of genetic modification led by global capitalism and multinational corporations. However, his critique of genetic modification and food transformation relies on ethnic and gender stereotyping within an Orientalist frame. While he challenges the practices of corporate capitalism, his representation of Asian cultures and traditions is monolithic and consistently reproductive of Orientalist stereotypes. Also, the politics of representation in the novel is closely related with identity politics and subjectivity. In particular, the politics of representation in Bacigalupi’s novel are suspect in constructing Orientalist and sexist stereotypes as a frame, making his critiques of genetic modification and food transformation within Western power structures questionable.


ecofeminism; food transformation; Orientalism; GMO; representation; Western hegemony

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/KK2020.03328