Food Studies and Global Studies in the Asia Pacific

James Farrer


Background of this collection

The papers in this online collection are the outcome of the symposium on “Globalization, food and social identities in the Pacific region” held at Sophia University on Feb. 21-22, 2009. Although the globalization of food production and consumption is a phenomenon as old as agriculture itself, the increased speed and scale of transnational flows of food products, foodways and food producers has resulted in a greater interaction among cultures and increased cross-border dependencies for supplies. It was thus significant that this conference was held in Tokyo, a center of celebrated international cuisine, and in Japan, a country with one of the world’s highest rates of dependency on food imports. The papers in this collection focus on these transnational linkages in the production of new food cultures in societies in the Asia/Pacific region, including the Americas and Asia, asking how foodways work as expressions of social identity, including ethnic, regional, class and national identities. Papers stress conceptual questions such as the social construction of cuisine in different social and cultural contexts, and also policy questions related to the commercial promotion of cuisines from developing countries and the livelihoods of food consumers and producers.


This symposium was a project of a research group of the Sophia University Institute of Comparative Culture, funded by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corporation for Private Schools of Japan Academic Research Promotion Fund and Sophia University. This research group consists of seven Sophia faculty members conducting research on food culture in field sites in China, South East Asia, and Latin America. Other participants in the symposium were invited from institutions around the world for the two day event. As discussed below, this collection also represents an Asian Pacific perspective on food globalization, partly by virtue of being produced in Asia, partly by virtue of the focus of many papers on inter-Asian cultural flows. One goal of this collection of relatively short papers was to build ties between scholars in Japan and scholars from other institutions in the Asia Pacific region, broadly conceived, and make their research available to a global audience in an attractive and easily readable format. All contributions published in this online collection were reviewed in a double blind peer-reviewed process. We decided to publish this as an online collection because we wanted to explore a variety of issues from interdisciplinary and diverse geographical standpoints that would not easily mold into an ordinary book. We also hope that with online publication, we can reach a wider readership than a paper-based collection. We also have used the online format to publish more photographic images, which are particularly helpful in research on cuisine and food as material culture.


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