Article Title

Asia Pacific Perspectives Vol. 16 No. 2, 2020

Document Type

Full Issue



Editor's Introduction by Melissa S. Dale

We are pleased to announce the publication of the latest issue of Asia Pacific Perspectives. In vol. 16, no. 2 (2020), we present the multifaceted ways in which scholars in the humanities and social sciences are looking at food and culture in the Asia Pacific. Beyond satisfying our curiosity about food trends and consumption patterns both past and present, our latest issue also considers themes important for our understanding of East Asia during the 20th and 21st centuries including global modernity, imperialism, the history of food in East Asia, the history of animal health, cultural appropriation, indigenization, and more.

Imperial Bovine Bodies: Rendering Chinese Milk and Meat Fit for German and Japanese Consumption by Tatsuya Mitsuda

This article extends and enrichens the overlapping histories of food and animals through an investigation of how and why Chinese animal bodies, during the first three decades of the twentieth century, were subjected to a process by which they were rendered fit for German and Japanese consumers. Much of the current historiography for both fields neglects the important impact that imperial activities in East Asia exerted on the international trade of livestock and deadstock and the veterinary regimes put in place to combat the transnational threat of infectious animal diseases. Focusing on Qingdao in Shandong Province, this article sheds comparative light on the contrasting dietary needs of German and Japanese colonizers in shaping how animal bodies in general were processed, how bovine resources in particular came to acquire distinct values, how issues of animal health were coopted into various economic and political arguments, and how different conditions influenced boundary-work that was integral to making Chinese animal products palatable for German and Japanese consumption.

Known Unknowns in Japanese Food History by Eric C. Rath

As more scholars enter the field of Japanese food history, we are all becoming aware of how much more there is to learn. Our progress rests on the availability of primary sources which are plentiful for some topics but nonexistent for others, especially for premodern Japan (before 1868). This essay explores several “known unknowns,” instances when my own research on sake, recipes, and restaurants faced unanswered questions due to a lack of sources. I also touch briefly on meat eating in premodern Japan, which is another long-standing issue of debate in food history.

Diaspora, Exclusion and Appropriation: The Cuisine of the Korean Minority in Japan by Christopher Laurent

Zainichi Koreans are descendants of Koreans that immigrated to Japan during the colonialization of the Korean Peninsula. Although most are born in Japan and speak better Japanese than Korean, they remain marginalized in a society striving to remain homogenous. This essay places the cuisine of Zainichi Koreans in its broader social context. A number of scholars recognize the contribution of Koreans and their food to Japanese cuisine. However, while Koreans living in Japan are relegated to subaltern status, their food is expropriated and celebrated as part of Japanese society. This essay examines the power structure that frames the Japanization of Korean food. The theoretical implication is to reframe culinary erasure and appropriation as part of an integrated system that includes ethnic economy, minority marginalization and systemic discrimination. More broadly, it argues that the structures of domination that have been well documented in the Western context also exist in East Asia.

Contemporary Filipino Foodways: Views from the Street, Household, and Local Dining by Ty Matejowsky

As a rich mélange of outside culinary influences variously integrated within the enduring fabric of indigenous food culture, contemporary Filipino foodways exhibit an overarching character that is at once decidedly idiosyncratic and yet uncannily familiar to those non-Filipinos either visiting the islands for the first time or vicariously experiencing its meal/snack offerings through today’s all but omnipresent digital technology. Food spaces in the Philippines incorporate a wide range of venues and activities that increasingly transcend social class and public/domestic contexts as the photos in this essay showcase in profound and subtle ways. The pictures contained herein reveal as much about globalization’s multiscalar impact as they do Filipinos’ longstanding ability to adapt and assimilate externalities into more traditional modes of dietary practice.

Blurred Boundaries between Food and Medicine: Traditional Chinese Medicine and Its Impact on Contemporary Chinese Self-Care by Xiaoyu (Jennifer) Zhang

Although globalization has allowed science and technology to reach every corner of the world, many contemporary Chinese people still tend to follow Traditional Chinese Medicine’s (TCM) principles of self-care in their daily lives. This traditional discipline, as a foundational worldview for its people, has existed in China for more than 2,000 years and still seems to continually influence contemporary society. This paper will examine the impact of TCM on young Chinese people’s understandings of self-care by examining their preferences and eating habits, especially among those who have lived and studied abroad for a significant period of time. This research mainly adopts the exploratory qualitative method, including interviews with three TCM physicians who practice in hospitals in China and fifteen interviews with Chinese graduate students who have overseas study experience. The findings reveal the indispensable role TCM plays in the contemporary Chinese diet. Young people apply TCM standards to their dietary practices and prefer TCM food-based treatments over biomedical solutions when dealing with illness. The feedback from participants also presents how Chinese traditions are constantly being absorbed and reinvented today.

The Other Milk: Reinventing Soy in Republican China, by Jia-Chen Fu (Review) by Serena Calcagno

During China's Republican Era (1912-1949), soy milk was reformulated from a commonplace locally-made drink to a factory-made, scientifically fortified - and therefore modern - dietary choice. In The Other Milk: Reinventing Soy in Republican China, Jia-Chen Fu assembles a comprehensive historical record of the scientific, commercial, and government discourse on soy milk from the 1920s-40s. It includes personal accounts of a New York born-and-raised Chinese food security activist, commercial advertisements from a Canadian-Chinese doctor marketing his soy-based baby formula, excerpts from an agricultural journal translated from Japanese and disseminated across China's district offices, as well as photographs from local newspapers. These sources illustrate China's rising hopes for nation-building and modernization through a dietary lens.