Jakob Klein (SOAS)
Thu 26 Mar 2015, 15:30 - 17:00
Old Library Drummond Street

If you have a question about this talk, please contact: Claire MacDonnell (clairema)

Please note that this is a joint HG/Food Researchers in Edinburgh (FRIED) seminar

Recent years have witnessed a proliferation of activities surrounding ‘local speciality products’ (*tutechan*) in the People’s Republic of China, ranging from major documentaries sponsored by Chinese state television on the country’s regional delicacies, to the emergence of geographical indication schemes to promote and protect place-based foods, to the inclusion of foods in lists of ‘intangible cultural heritage’. This proliferation parallels similar developments in the EU, Japan and elsewhere, and reflects the growing internationalization of China’s food economy; recent scholarly analyses of Chinese local foods in terms of the French concept of *terroir* underline these transnational dimensions. Yet food has long been important to the construction of place in China, be it as markers of ‘native place’ identities, the promotion of localities’ economies and reputations, or state projects to map out regional and ‘ethnic’ differences. How do new constructions of Chinese local specialities in the context of a globalizing food economy displace, obscure or become shaped by pre-existing imaginings, projects and practices? Drawing on visual- and text-based sources and the author’s ethnographic research in Southwest China, the paper attempts to draw out some of the key characteristics of Chinese ‘local speciality products’ today and in doing so contribute to a transnational, comparative understanding of ‘local foods’.