Global Cuisine Project: Culinary Artisans and Urban Place-making (2016-17)

Contact Person: James Farrer (*4066;

ICC Members: James Farrer, Mariko Morimoto, David Wank, Chris Hess
ICC Post-doctoral Researcher: Chuanfei Wang
We also collaborate with scholars outside of Sophia on this project (notably Anna Greenspan and Krishnendu Ray at New York University).


The intellectual purpose of this project is to understand the marketing of artisanal culinary work as embodied and practiced in various settings around the world, including in Japan. The research extends more broadly to how culinary labor can be understood as a feature of urban place making. The practical goal of this funding request is to provide more editorial support (especially the Japanese language support) for the websites associated with the empirical research projects. The online platforms aim to achieve significant community interaction and broader intellectual impact through publishing results in a substantive and ongoing webpage format in English and Japanese.

Intellectual Questions and Methods

Japanese cuisine (including non-Japanese cuisines in Japan) has attained a global reputation based to a great extent on the reputation of Japanese culinary producers for artisanal work. This notion of artisanal culinary production is not unique to Japan, however, and seems increasingly to be part of the marketing of cuisine globally. It could be seen as a contrast to notions of culinary work as “unskilled labor,” or alternatively as a new way of organizing (and disciplining) culinary workers. It can be connected to alternative forms of capitalism focused on community building, environmental and lifestyle projects, but it can also be a way of marketing culinary authenticity in a highly competitive business sector. There are several questions that come from our previous research.

(1) The ways in which “artisanal production” figure in the marketing of Japanese cuisine inside and outside Japan.
(2) The meaning that artisanal labor has for consumers in restaurant settings and the interaction between consumers and producers.
(3) The role of artisanal culinary producers in urban and town place making (e.g. culinary neighborhoods).
(4) Deskilling of culinary work inside and outside Japan (i.e. the actuality of artisanal production and image may be at odds).
(5) The role of “food safety” and “health” discourses in the practices of artisanal culinary producers
(6) The importance of consumer attitudes and social media towards framing and constructing culinary practice (e.g. online media and reviewing).
(7) How the idea of the “artisanal producer” is sustained when cuisines travel to new settings.
(8) The role of “third country” cultural intermediaries in sustaining, diluting or enhancing, the practice of artisanal culinary work.
(9) The racialization of culinary artisanal production (e.g. the employment of Asian workers outside Japan as a way of representing the worker as authentic).
(10) The role of transnational mobility in constructing the careers of culinary artisans.

Data gathered for the project include interviews, ethnographic observations and digital mapping data. We are developing a questionnaire study. There are two overlapping research efforts: Farrer’s ongoing project (supported by JSPS) consists of a study of artisanal food production and business-based community building in a Tokyo neighborhood (an area of Suginami district) and a Shanghai neighborhood (an area of Luwan District). Wank, Hess, Farrer and Wang are investigating the globalization of Japanese culinary labor in Europe, Asia and North America, as part of the Japanese Global Cuisines Project funded by Sophia University. Morimoto and Farrer will develop a survey related to the marketing of artisanal cuisines in Japan.

The ICC grant would support the ongoing publication of the results of these research activities in an online digital format. The goal of the web platform is to produce lively substantive articles that will appeal to community members and publicize this research to a global academic audience. Digital maps are used to represent patterns and allow easier overview of data. This year we would like to expand to include video as well as text.

Relationship to Previous ICC Projects:

This project builds upon the results of the previous “Global Food Project,” but takes the research in new empirical and theoretical directions. In particular it focuses on the idea of “culinary artisanal labor,” which emerged as a theme in that project.

I. Members has several new and forthcoming publications directly related to the project:

a. James Farrer (ongoing 2015-). Nishiogiology: An urban studies blog. (17 short articles in both Japanese and English, with the goal of republishing as a book. This is a completely redesigned webpage and is concretely the result of the previous year of ICC funding.)
b. J. Farrer. forthcoming. “Nightlife and the Night-time Economy in Urban China” in SAGE Handbook of Contemporary China. Weiping Wu and Mark Frazier, editor (has section on foodways)
c. J. Farrer. forthcoming. “Domesticating the Japanese Culinary Field in Shanghai” in Tine Walravens and Andreas Niehaus eds. Emotionalizing the Nation: Conflicting narratives in Japanese food identities
d. J. Farrer. forthcoming. “Culinary Globalization from Above and Below: Migrant Entrepreneurs in Urban Place Making in Shanghai” in Angela Lehmann and Pauline Leonard eds. Immigration to China in the Post-reform era: Destination PRC. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
e. J. Farrer. forthcoming. “Urban Foodways: A Research Agenda” John Rennie Short ed. A Research Agenda for Cities Northhampton MA: Edward Elgar.
f. J. Farrer (ed.). 2015. Globalization and Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Contact Zones. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
i. J. Farrer. 2015. “Introduction: Travelling Cuisines in and out of Asia: Towards a Framework for Studying Culinary Globalization” in J. Farrer ed. Globalization and Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Contact Zones. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Pp. 1-20
ii. David L. Wank and J. Farrer. 2015. “Chinese Immigrants and Japanese Cuisine in the United States: A Case of Culinary Glocalization” in J. Farrer ed. Globalization and Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Contact Zones. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Pp.79-100.
iii. J. Farrer. 2015. “Shanghai’s Western Restaurants as Culinary Contact Zones in a Transnational Culinary Field” in J. Farrer ed. Globalization and Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Contact Zones. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Pp. 103-24.
iv. D. Wank. 2015. “Knife-shaved Noodles go Global: Provincial Culinary Politics and the Improbable Rise of a Minor Chinese Cuisine” in J. Farrer Globalization and Asian Cuisines, 187-208.
g. C. Hess. 2015. “Soy City: The Port of Dairen and the Soy Trade in Manchuria, 1895-1937” East Asian Environmental History Association Conference 2105, Kagawa University, Takamatsu, Oct. 22-25, 2015.
h. C. Wang. 2015. “Wine Consumption in Contemporary Japan and China: The Changing Global Wine World,” International Conference of Moving Around: People, Things and Practices in Consumer Culture (conference proceedings), Gagushuyin University, 137-143.

II. We presented the work at conferences:

a. “Doing Ethnography in East Asian Urban Settings” Research Forum of the DFG Research Training Group 1613 ‘Risk and East Asia’ Duisburg-Essen University, August 23, 2016, invited lecture.
b. “Shanghai Nightscapes: A Historical Sociology of Urban Chinese Leisure” Asien-Afrika-Institut University of Hamburg, Hamburg, July 18, 2016, public lecture.
c. “上海と東京:グロバル都市のフードスケープ” 杉の木大学・講座, 高井戸地域区民センター・高齢者活動支援センター, July 5, 2016, invited public service lecture.
d. “Happy and Unhappy Meals: Culinary Approaches to the Good Life in Shanghai” Conference on Blessed Happiness: Visions of the Good Life in Urban China, Georgetown University, Washington DC, Jan. 21-22, 2016, invited lecture.
e. “Michelin Stars Over China: French Cuisine in Shanghai’s Culinary Contact Zones”Conference on Chinese Food Culture: Chinese Food Culture in Europe: French Food Culture in AsiaTours, Université François-Rabelais Tours/ Foundation of Chinese Dietary Culture France, Oct. 12-15 2015, invited participant.
f. “Danger and Purity: Food and Happiness in China” Workshop on Happiness in China, Fudan University, Shanghai Oct. 9-10, 2015.

III. We also have developed a collaboration with a multi-university project on “city food” (centered at New York University and University of Toronto). Farrer will be attending a conference at NYU Shanghai in April 2017 to present research, prepare for publications, and plan further cooperation. Farrer is also in the final phases of collaborative research with scholars at Georgetown university on aspects of this research related to foodways in China (see below).

IV. We have also incorporated the research from this project into our graduate and undergraduate teaching including in courses on globalization and on the sociology of culture. Students have benefited from research assistance opportunities as well as training in coursework.