Global Japanese Cuisine Project: the Ideal of the Culinary Artisan (2015-16)

Contact Person: James Farrer (*4066;

Members: James Farrer, Mariko Morimoto, David Wank, Chuanfei Wang (GPGS PhD candidate)
We also plan to invite scholars outside of Sophia to participate in this project, depending on the success of further funding applications.

Purpose: The purpose of this project is to understand the globalization of Japanese cuisine as a form of artisanal culinary work that is embodied and practiced differently in various settings around the world. The immediate goal will be to develop specific projects that might gain further funding as a JSPS or other grants.

Research Questions: Japanese cuisine has attained a global reputation, and part of this reputation involves the reputation of Japanese culinary producers for artisanal work. 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 Japanese artisanal labor has for consumers in restaurant settings and the interaction between consumers and producers.
(3) The role of artisanal culinary producers in urban place making (e.g. culinary neighborhoods).
(4) Deskilling of Japanese 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 Japanese culinary producers
(6) Connoisseurship in the world of Japanese culinary practice (e.g. online media and reviewing).
(7) How the idea of the “artisanal producer” is sustained when cuisines travel abroad.
(8) The role of “third country” cultural intermediaries in sustaining (or possibly diluting) the reputation of Japanese culinary work.
(9) The racialization of Japanese culinary production (e.g. the employment of Asian workers outside Japan).
(10) Japanese culinary artisanship in non-Japanese cuisines (e.g. Japanese producers of Italian cuisine)
(11) The role of transnational mobility in the careers of culinary workers.

Methods will involve interviews, ethnographic observations and developing a simple questionnaire study. We intend to develop a small research project in Tokyo to look at small-scale entrepreneurs artisanal food producers in Tokyo. Wank and Farrer will be continuing our interview project on Japanese food producers in cities where we have ongoing fieldwork.

Relationship to Previous ICC Projects: This project builds upon the results of “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. The previous project, however, provides the basis for this research, and we already have concrete results from that project.

I. The primary result is a book titled Globalization and Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Contact Zones (edited by James Farrer), which was accepted for publication by Palgrave Macmillan this year and will be published in 2015. The list of contributors and the titles of their contributions follows:

1. Introduction: The Transnational Production of Cuisines and Nationalist Culinary Politics in Asia
James Farrer, Sophia University

2. “Kosa kosa per pani badle, chara kosa per vani”: Indian Ocean Cuisine and the Politics of National Cultures
Krishnendu Ray, New York University

3. Chinese Sushi: Localizing Japanese Cuisine in the United States through Chinese Immigrant Networks
David Wank and James Farrer, Sophia University

4. The Travels of Kitty’s Love Cake: A Tale of Spices, ‘Asian’ Flavours and Cuisine Sans Frontieres?
Jean Duruz, University of South Australia

5. Japanese as Global Food: Umami, Celebrity and the Global Urban Network
Shoko Imai, University of Tokyo

6. The Non-local Construction of Local Cuisine: Manifesting the Chinese Nation in Shanxi restaurants
David L. Wank, Sophia University

7. Why Doesn’t Malaysian Cuisine Fare Well in the Global Restaurant Industry?: A Sociological Enquiry
Kosaku Yoshino, Sophia University

8. Global Cuisine in the Chinese Global City: The Careers of Migrant Chefs in Shanghai
James Farrer, Sophia University

9. Japanese Cooks in Italy: The Institutionalization of Overseas: Training during the 1980s and 1990s
Keiichi Sawaguchi, Taisho University

10. Making Crayfish Local: A Study of Spicy Crayfish Dish in a Third-Tier City in China
Sidney C. H. Cheung, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

11. The Remaking of a National Cuisine: Food Education in Japan
Stephanie Assmann, Tohoku University

12. Searching for Local Food in Japan
Eric C. Rath, University of Kansas

II. The project was also represented in 2014-15 in the following individual publications and working papers:

a. James Farrer. Forthcoming publication. “Imported Culinary Heritage: the Case of Localized Western Cuisine in Shanghai” Rethinking Asian Food Heritage edited by Sidney Cheung. Taipei: The Foundation of Chinese Dietary Culture (expected 2015). (This was the outcome of a paper presented in Hong Kong in January 2014.)

b. James Farrer. “Chinese Culinary Dreams” Workshop on Happiness in China, Georgetown University, Washington DC, Oct. 10-12, 2014, invited participant. (This will become a chapter of a planned edited volume on happiness in China.)

c. James Farrer. “Shanghai’s culinary contact zones: travelling cuisines and migrant culinary workers in the global food city” Conference on Mobilities and Exceptional Spaces in Asia, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, July 8-9, 2014, invited participant. (This paper is under review as a journal special issue of International Sociology.)

d. David Wank (co-authored with James Farrer) “Global spread of Japanese cuisine through transnational migration networks of non-Japanese” June 18-20, 2014, co-organizer. (This will be a chapter in the book described above.)

III. 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.