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10. Eating Japan

Thu, March 16, 7:30 to 9:30pm, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, Mezzanine, Linden

Session Submission Type: Roundtable Session

Abstract

Food is a core aspect of both intimate and public life in Japan, and has become a key element of Japan branding with the rise of global sushi, sake consumption, and the 2013 UNESCO designation of washoku (traditional Japanese cuisine) as an intangible cultural heritage. This Roundtable will bring together Japan studies scholars who have recently taught classes about food to share their experiences and to engage the audience in a productive discussion. Participants representing different academic disciplines will share successful highlights from courses, as well as some of the challenges they have faced. Roundtable discussants will focus on one or more of the following topics: conversations with students about "authenticity" and its orthodoxies (White); learning to read food as opposed to simply consuming it (Chance); the environment, agricultural production, and the ethics and health of food production (McKnight); food and the culture of conspicuous consumption, especially as found in film and TV programs, cooking contests, and eating battles (Poulton); and food, health and nationalistic identity in modernist discourse (Hanawa). All participants will discuss Japanese food as a marker of regional identity or national ethnicity; as an index of distinction (class, gender, training) and social change; as art and performance; and public and private spheres of cooking. Some of the pedagogical issues addressed include how to approach food as a critical subject and dealing with student assumptions, expectations, and ethnocentrism. Through sharing experiences and audience discussion our goal is to inspire those who are considering development of a food course.

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