Exploring the Intersections of Gender and Food in East Asia: From Material Culture to Symbolic Practices

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Exploring the Intersections of Gender and Food in East Asia: From Material Culture to Symbolic Practices
Stream: Gender & Sexuality
Presentation Type: Roundtable
Authors:
Jooyeon Rhee, Pennsylvania State University, United States (organizer, discussant, roundtable-chair)
Chikako Nagayama, Nagoya University, Japan (discussant)
Yuko Minowa, Long Island University, United States (discussant)
Eric Li, University of British Columbia, Canada (discussant)

Abstract:

Even when it does not demand urgent attention, food is everyone’s issue – no one can live without a regular intake of nutrients. At the same time, food can be a very personal thing – it constitutes the distinctive habits, interests, and memories of each individual. When food is so much embedded in our daily routine, how can a researcher convince the reader that it is worthwhile to stop and think about food? Furthermore, without falling onto simplistic generalization or social atomism, where should a researcher find a valuable category for sociocultural analysis about food? When diverse culinary cultures are showcased in a multicultural celebration, what identity politics should be critically assessed, or perhaps, advocated? This roundtable’s basic premise is that gender provides a useful lens that allows productive cross-cultural comparisons about food. It is a primary framework which social norms and rituals are based upon; gendered practices and performances span from material culture to symbolic practices regarding food; critical attention to gender as social construction also solicits researchers’ careful approach to cultural and regional differences in food preparation and consumption. While highlighting each discussant’s unique approach to address gendered aspects of food representation, marketing and consumption, the roundtable also explores interrelating contexts of modern and contemporary Korea, China and Japan regarding gender and food. In particular, Yuko Minowa on her historical research about Valentines Day gift-giving rituals in Japan, Chikako Nagayama on the neoliberal notion of women’s power reflected on Japanese recipe blogs and books, Eric Li on Lefebrve’s notion of space to analyze gendered consumption of K-food, and Jooyeon Rhee on changing male roles in Korean television cooking shows. In summary, our multidisciplinary panel seeks to illustrate the intersections of gender and food through multiple theoretical and empirical lenses.