Participant Bios

Keynote speakers:

James Watson, Anthropology, Harvard University

  • James L. Watson is Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society and Professor of Anthropology Emeritus at Harvard University (Univ. of Iowa, BA 1965; Univ. of California, Berkeley, Ph.D. 1972). Prof. Watson also taught at the University of London (School of Oriental and African Studies), University of Hawaii, and the University of Pittsburgh. He is an ethnographer who specializes on southern Chinese rural society. He learned to speak country Cantonese in Hong Kong’s New Territories during the late- 1960s and studied Mandarin at Taiwan National University. Watson’s research has focused on Chinese emigration, ancestor worship and popular religion, family life and village organization, food systems, and the emergence of a post-socialist culture in the People’s Republic of China. He has worked with over 40 graduate students in Harvard’s Department of Anthropology to investigate foodways in China, Russia, Eastern Europe, South Asia, and North America. In 2012 he retired to a family farm on the western Illinois prairie where he continues to do research on comparative food systems, agriculture, and Chinese rural life. Watson’s publications include Emigration and the Chinese Lineage; Between Two Cultures: Migrants and Minorities in Britain; Class and Social Stratification in PostRevolution China; Kinship Organization in Late Imperial China; Death Ritual in Chinese Society; Asian and African Systems of Slavery; SARS in China; The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating; The Handbook of Food and Anthropology; and Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia (with case studies of fast food consumption in Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Seoul, and Tokyo).

Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson, Sociology, Columbia University

  • Priscilla Parkhurst Ferguson is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Columbia University. With a doctorate from Columbia in French, she taught French language and literature at the University of Illinois at Chicago for many years then, upon moving to Columbia, transferred her affections and intellectual endeavors to sociology. After books on literary institutions in France and on the urban culture of 19th-century Paris, she turned to food: the singularity of French cuisine in Accounting for Taste: The Triumph of French cuisine  (Chicago, 2004) and the growing importance of “food talk” in Word of Mouth: What we talk about when we talk about food (California, 2014).


Stephanie Assmann, Media and Communication, Hokkaido University

  • Stephanie Assmann is a faculty member in the Research Faculty of Media and Communication, Hokkaido University. She is the editor of Sustainability in Contemporary Rural Japan: Challenges and Opportunities (Routledge, 2016) and the co-editor of Japanese Foodways, Past and Present(University of Illinois Press, 2010, co-edited with Eric C. Rath). Her research interests include the study of consumer behaviour with a focus on foodways. More on her work can be found at

Dan Bender, History, University of Toronto

  • Daniel E. Bender is the Canada Research Chair in Cultural History and Analysis, Professor of History and Food Studies, and the director of the University of Toronto’s Culinaria Research Centre. He is currently working on a project about empire and culinary tourism. He is the author most recently of Making the Empire Work: Labor and United States Imperialism (ed.) and The Animal Game: Searching for Wildness at the American Zoo.

Rachel Berger, History, Concordia University

  • Rachel Berger is an Associate Professor of History at Concordia University, Montreal and a fellow of the Simone De Beauvoir Institute. Her work primarily revolves around concepts of Ayurveda and biopolitics in colonial South Asia, and the study of reproductive medicine, diet, health, and consumption in the late-colonial period. She is the author of Ayurveda Made Modern: Political Histories of Indigenous Medicine in North India, 1900-1955 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

Michelle Bloom, Comparative Literature, University of California, Riverside

  • Michelle Bloom teaches comparative literature, film and French. She particularly enjoys offering courses on food and film; French cinema; world film; and Existentialism. Professor Bloom’s current research in food studies continues to explore the interplay between the Francophone world and the Sinophone world, which she explored in her most recent book, Contemporary Sino-French Cinema: Absent Fathers, Banned Books, and Red Balloons (University of Hawai’i Press, 2015). Contemporary Sino-French Cinema examines the crossover between France, on the one hand, and East Asia (especially Mainland China and Taiwan), in film. Professor Bloom aims to go beyond the polarities of orientalism, instead considering contemporary cinema through the optics of métissage, translation, intertextuality and imitation. Related articles address Sino-French films by directors Dai Sijie, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Jia Zhangke, Emily Tang Xiaobai and Tsai Ming-liang.

Yujen Chen, Taiwan Culture, Language, and Literature, National Taiwan Normal University

Pin-tsang Tseng, Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica

  • Chen acquired PhD degree at Leiden University, the Netherlands, in 2010. She is an Associate Professor of the Department of Taiwan Culture, Language, and Literature at National Taiwan Normal University. Her thesis Embodying Nation in Food Consumption: Changing Boundaries of “Taiwanese Cuisine” (1895-2008) examines the history of “Taiwanese cuisine” and the interplay between bodily practice, national consciousness, and the formation of national cuisine. She has published several related research articles and books.
  • Pin-tsang Tseng is an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute of Taiwan History, Academia Sinica. His research interests cover food history, history of Qing Taiwan to the history of agriculture and social life, including milkfish aquaculture in Asia, and the social significance of diverse restaurants in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period. He is working on a book on the transformation of Taiwanese restaurants and its political-social analysis throughout the Japanese colonial period.

Sidney Cheung, Anthropology, Chinese University of Hong Kong

  • Sidney C. H. Cheung is Professor of the Department of Anthropology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong. His research interests include visual anthropology, anthropology of tourism, heritage studies, food and identity, fragrance and ethnicity; his co-edited books include Tourism, Anthropology and China(White Lotus, 2001), The Globalization of Chinese Food (RoutledgeCurzon, 2002), Food and Foodways in Asia: Resource, Tradition and Cooking (Routledge, 2007), and Rethinking Asian Food Heritage (Foundation of Chinese Dietary Culture, Taiwan, 2014).

Katarzyna Cwiertka, Asian Studies, Leiden University

Jean Duruz, Hawke Research Institute, University of South Australia

  • Jean Duruz is an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow within the Hawke Research Institute at the University of South Australia. For a number of years her research has focused on food as a medium of interethnic exchange in global cities, such as Singapore, Mexico City and Sydney. Her recent publications include (with Gaik Cheng Khoo) Eating Together: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore(Rowman and Littlefield 2015) and chapters in edited collections such as Kong and Sinha’s Food, Foodways and Foodscapes (2016) and Banerjee-Dube’s Cooking Cultures (2016).

James Farrer, Sociology, Sophia University

  • James Farrer is Professor of Sociology and Global Studies at Sophia University in Tokyo, specializing in urban sociology in East Asia, researching sexuality, nightlife expatriate communities, and food cultures. His current projects focus on urban foodscapes and the place making activities of international migrants in the city. His publications include Opening Up: Youth Sex Culture and Market Reform in ShanghaiShanghai Nightscapes: A Nocturnal Biography of a Global City (with Andrew Field), and Globalization and Asian Cuisines: Transnational Networks and Contact Zones (editor). He has also published over fifty book chapter and articles and written for general media, including Newsweek JapanLonely PlanetGuides, Asian Wall Street JournalYaleGlobal Online, and Global Asia. He has lived in Asia more than two decades, spending part of every year in Shanghai while based in Tokyo.

Jia-Chen Fu, East Asian Languages and Cultures, Emory University

  • Jia-Chen Fu is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures at Emory University. After receiving her Ph.D in History from Yale University, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Chinese Studies at the University of California at Berkeley and then Assistant Professor of History at Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH). Her forthcoming book, The Other Milk: Soy, Science, and Self-Invention in Republican China, explores the curious paths through which the conception of the Chinese diet as a deficient one led to the reinterpretation, rediscovery, and reassignment of social and scientific meanings of the soybean in 20th century China.

Sana Ho, Sociology, Soochow University, Taiwan

  • Sana Ho is assistant professor in Dept. of Sociology in Soochow University, Taiwan. Her research interests include several dimensions related to cultural nationalism in East Asia, South Korea specifically, such as food, consumption, media, and popular culture.

Satoko Kakihara, Modern Languages and Literatures, California State University Fullerton

  • Satoko Kakihara is Assistant Professor of Japanese at California State University, Fullerton. Her research areas include modern Japanese literature, gender, and imperialism. She is currently working on a monograph that analyzes literary productions by female writers throughout the Japanese empire.

Gaik Cheng Khoo, Film and Television Studies, University of Nottingham, Malaysia

  • Professor Gaik Cheng Khoo teaches film and cultural studies at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Co-author with Jean Duruz of Eating Together: Food, Space and Identity in Malaysia and Singapore(Rowman & Littlefield 2014), her other food projects include “The cheapskate highbrow and the dilemma of sustaining Penang hawker food as intangible cultural heritage” (SOJOURN, March 2017) and book chapter “Penang hawker food: preserving taste, affirming local ‘distinction’?” in Space, Taste and Affect (ed. Emily Falconer, Routledge, forthcoming). She has also written about vegetarian restaurants as possible third places in Malaysia and on Korean restaurants in Malaysia, “The Globalizing Hansik Campaign: a Malaysian Critique.”

Michelle T. King, History, UNC Chapel Hill

  • Michelle T. King is an Associate Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her latest research project focuses on the career of Taiwan’s noted cookbook author and television celebrity, Fu Pei-mei, as a way to understand changes in postwar society, including the development of foodways as a critical national political project, shifting gender roles, and the transnational construction of identity through successive generations. She also teaches about the cultural history of Chinese food. Her prior publications on Chinese gender history include Between Birth and Death: Female Infanticide in Nineteenth-Century China (Stanford, 2014).

Seung-joon Lee, History, National University of Singapore

  • Seung-joon Lee is teaching modern Chinese history at the National University of Singapore. He is the author of Gourmets in the Land of Famine: the Culture and Politics of Rice in Modern Canton(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011) and has published a number of articles including “The Patriot’s Scientific Diet: Nutrition Science and Dietary Reform Campaigns in China, 1910s­­–1950s,” Modern Asian Studies. His research focuses on the social, cultural, and political history of food, environment and technology in modern China.

Tatsuya Mitsuda, Economics, Keio University

  • Tatsuya Mitsuda is Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics, Keio University, Japan. He was educated at Keio, Bonn, and Cambridge universities. His teaching and research interests are in the histories of food and animals, with particular reference to Germany and Japan.

Eric Rath, History, University of Kansas

  • Eric C. Rath is professor of premodern Japanese history at the University of Kansas and a specialist in Japanese dietary cultures.  His publications include Japan’s Cuisines: Food, Place and Identity(2016), Food and Fantasy in Early Modern Japan (2010), and Japanese Foodways Past and Present, coedited with Stephanie Assmann.  At Kansas he teaches the courses “History of Sushi” and “Beer, Sake, and Tea: Beverages in Japanese History.”

Krishnendu Ray, Food Studies, New York University

  • Krishnendu Ray is the Chair of the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at New York University. Prior to joining NYU, he was a faculty member and an Associate Dean for Curriculum Development at The Culinary Institute of America. A food studies scholar with interest in the role of immigrants in American food culture, he is the author of The Migrant’s Table(Temple University, 2004), the co-editor of Curried Cultures: Globalization, Food and South Asia (University of California Press, 2012), and the author of The Ethnic Restaurateur (Bloomsbury, 2016).

Jayeeta Sharma, History, University of Toronto

  • Jo (Jayeeta) Sharma is an Associate Professor in the Historical and Cultural Studies Department and a member of the Graduate Department of History and the Culinary Research Centre at the University of Toronto. Her research examines food, mobilities, family, and labour circulation across British imperial and postcolonial spaces. She is the author of Empire’s Garden: Assam and the Making of India(Duke 2011), a study on tea plantations, labour migration, and cultural nationalism.  While writing her second book on cross-cultural encounters and Himalayan circulation, she is researching two separate food history projects, one on street hawkers and urban regulations and the other on South Asian cookbook authors and readers. Jo is also engaged in a collaborative research and social justice project on community food vending and gardening at Toronto, associated with the City Foods project at Culinaria. She is on the Editorial Board of Global Food History, the Editorial Collective for Radical History Review, and is editor of the Empires in Perspective book series at Routledge.

Benjamin Siegel, History, Boston University

  • Benjamin Siegel is a historian of modern South Asia, with particular interests in the politics and economic life of India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh in global contexts. His first book project, Hungry Nation: Food, Famine, and the Making of Modern India (forthcoming), interrogates the ways in which problems of food and scarcity has structured Indian citizens’ understanding of welfare and citizenship since independence. Professor Siegel’s current project, “Markets of Pain: American Bodies and Indian Drugs in an Age of Distress,” is a transnational history of the American opioid crisis.

Fan Yang, Media and Communication Studies, University of Maryland, Baltimore Campus

  • Fan Yang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). She is the author of Faked in China: Nation Branding, Counterfeit Culture, and Globalization (Indiana University Press, 2016). Yang’s work on cultural studies, globalization, and Chinese media has appeared in positions: Asia critique,Critical Studies in Media Communication, Theory, Culture & SocietyJournal of Asian American Studies, among others.


Inger Brodey, English and Comparative Literature, UNC Chapel Hill

  • Inger S. B. Brodey is Bank of America Distinguished Term Professor and Director of the Office of Distinguished Scholarships at UNC-CH.  Her faculty positions are in English and Comparative Literature, Asian Studies and Global Studies.  She was raised in Japan and Denmark, as well as the U.S., so her interest in cross-cultural food studies comes naturally.  She teaches two food-related courses at UNC-CH: “The Feast in Philosophy, Film, and Fiction” and “Global Food Films.”

Peter Coclanis, History, UNC Chapel Hill

  • Peter A. Coclanis is Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History and Director of the Global Research Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill.  He works primarily in economic, business, and demographic history and has published widely in these areas.

Emma Flatt, History, UNC Chapel Hill

  • Emma Flatt is an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her work focuses on the fifteenth and sixteenth century Deccan, and she is the coeditor (with Daud Ali) of a volume on garden and landscape practices in the premodern Deccan, and the author of several articles on (respectively) gardens, wrestling, smell, magic and astrology. She hopes one day to finish her book – currently entitled Courtly Pursuits – which focuses on courtly culture in the Deccan Sultanates.

Iqbal Sevea, History, UNC Chapel Hill

  • Iqbal Sevea is Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is interested in the socio-cultural, political and intellectual histories of modern South Asia. His publications include The Political Philosophy of Muhammad Iqbal: Islam and Nationalism in Late Colonial India (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Islamic Political Thought in Modern South Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming: 2017). He is currently researching on itinerant storytellers in Punjab.

Nancy Stalker, History, University of Texas, Austin

  • Nancy Stalker is an Associated Professor in the Departments of Asian Studies and History at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is currently editing Devouring Japan: Global Perspectives on Japanese Culinary Identity for Oxford University Press and recently published an article on Japanese food-based TV dramas in the Winter 2016 issue of Gastronomica.

Michael Tsin, History, UNC Chapel Hill

  • Michael Tsin teaches Chinese history and global studies at UNC-Chapel Hill.  He is the author of Nation, Governance, and Modernity in China and co-author of Worlds Together, Worlds Apart: From 1000 CE to the Present.  He is currently working on a cultural history of “Chineseness” in the twentieth century.

UNC Chapel Hill / March 30-April 1, 2017