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about this project

This joint research projects examines and compares changes in the culture of food consumption and production in the globalizing areas of the Pacific Rim, in China, Latin America and Southeast Asia.

The methodology consists of seven in-depth ethnographic case studies.; In field sites in Shanghai, Shanxi, and Hubei in China, Philippines, Malaysia in South East Asia, Mexico and Brazil in Latin America, each of the seven members are each gathering data on a particular feature of food consumption and production, focusing on the dynamics of globalization and localization in local food cultures. Data include in-depth interviews, textual and visual analysis.

Theoretically, these processes of globalization and localization, are not conceptualized as opposed to each other as a kind of global invasion and local reaction, but are rather as a single interlinked process that in which both local and transnational actors are important. Transnational flows of food products, agribusiness capital, consumption patterns, transnational culinary practices and even images of food consumption are shaped and even instigated or promoted by local economic, social and political actors. This project focuses on identifying these local and transnational actors and conceptualizing how food cultures are formed in this “glocalizing” process.

Food culture is conceptualized in this project in terms of a multi-layered social identity, including local, regional, and national dimensions of social identity. One of the key findings of the project is the ways in which national and local identities associated with food production and consumption are reconfigured in processes of globalization.  Each researcher has uncovered ways in which local and national cuisines are themselves the products of transnational flows and local social processes reacting to and shaping transnational flows.

The main goal in the rest of the year is integrating and comparing our empirical findings and producing written reports for a symposium scheduled for February. 21-22, 2009.

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