Culinary Nationalism in East Asia
What is culinary nationalism? What form does it take, and how has it evolved in China, Taiwan, Japan and Korea? What we eat is not only shaped by geographical factors, the existence of natural resources in a specific location, and individual tastes, but also by political, socio-economic, religious, and other factors and values. At this event Professor Katarzyna Cwiertka and Associate Professor Michelle T. King will discuss forms and developments of culinary nationalism in East Asia.
Food and cooking evoke individual and collective memories of childhood and (regional or national) home. At the same time, food, taste and cooking practices are shaped by different forms of power and actors such as state institutions, corporations and the media. In recent years, national bodies have elevated certain types of food and cooking to national treasures, and countries such as China, Japan and Korea have been particularly active to also have themnominated to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. These and other efforts hide the fact that countries are composed of different regional cuisines, the existence of commercial and national interests in promoting certain kind of food and cooking practices, and that interest in traditional food might be undergoing rapid changes as food habits and cooking transcends national borders.
Katarzyna Cwiertka is Professor of Modern Japan Studies at Leiden University. She is an expert on consumption and food in East Asia. Her publications on the topic include Modern Japanese Cuisine: Food, Power and National Identity (Reaktion Books/University of Chicago Press, 2006), Cuisine, Colonialism and Cold War: Food in Twentieth Century Korea (Reaction Books/University of Chicago Press, 2013) and Branding Japanese Food: From Meibutsu to Washoku (University of Hawai’i Press, 2020). Cwiertka is currently researching the social history of plastic in Japan.
Michelle T. King is Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an expert on Chinese gender history and food history. She recently edited the volume Culinary Nationalism in Asia (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019), a collection of comparative studies of culinary nationalism in East, Southeast, and South Asia, and a special issue of Global Food History (Summer 2020) on culinary regionalism in China. She is author of the forthcoming book, Chop Fry Watch Learn: Fu Pei-mei and the Making of Modern Chinese Food (W. W. Norton, 2024), about Taiwan's beloved postwar cookbook author and television personality, Fu Pei-mei, and co-editor of the forthcoming volume, Modern Chinese Foodways (MIT Press, 2024).