The Handbook of Food and Anthropology

The Handbook of Food and Anthropology

by Jakob A. Klein

Jakob A. Kleinis Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in the southern Chinese cities of Guangzhou and Kunming on topics including regional restaurants and cuisine, local understandings of and responses to food safety risks, and “alternative” food movements. He is the co-editor, with Kevin Latham and Stuart Thompson, of Consuming China: Approaches to Cultural Change in Contemporary China (Routledge, 2006). He has published numerous book chapters and journal articles, including “‘For eating, it’s Guangzhou’: regional culinary traditions and Chinese socialism,” in H.G. West and P. Raman (eds), Enduring Socialism: Explorations of Revolution and Transformation, Restoration and Continuation (Berghahn Books, 2009); “Creating ethical food consumers? Promoting organic foods in urban Southwest China,” Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale, Vol. 17, No. 1 (2009); and, co-authored with H.G. West and J. Pottier, “New directions in the anthropology of food,” in R. Fardon et al. (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Social Anthropology (SAGE, 2012). Klein teaches courses at BA and MA levels in general anthropology, Chinese ethnography and the anthropology of food. He is co-founder and acting deputy chair of the SOAS Food Studies Centre. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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, James L. Watson

James L. Watson is Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society and Professor of Anthropology, Emeritus, Harvard University. Watson is an ethnographer who has spent over four decades working in south China, primarily in villages (Guangdong, Jiangxi, and the Hong Kong region). He learned to speak country Cantonese in the Hong Kong New Territories during the late 1960s and has subsequently worked in many parts of the People's Republic (using Mandarin). His research has focused on Chinese emigrants to London, ancestor worship and popular religion, family life and village organization, food systems, and the emergence of a post-socialist culture in the PRC. Watson also worked with graduate students in Harvard's Department of Anthropology to investigate the impact of transnational food industries in East Asia, Europe, and Russia. Publications in the anthropology of food include “From the common pot: eating with equals in Chinese society,” Anthropos, 82 (1987); Golden Arches East: McDonald's in East Asia (edited volume, Stanford University Press, 1997/2006); The Cultural Politics of Food and Eating: A Reader (co-edited with M.L. Caldwell, Blackwell Publishing, 2005); and “Feeding the revolution: public mess halls and coercive commensality in Maoist China,” in E. Zhang et al. (eds), Governance of Life in Chinese Moral Experience (Routledge, 2011). Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2016
  • DOI:
  • ISBN:
    978-0-8578-5594-7 (hardback)

    978-1-3500-0113-8 (epdf)

    978-1-3500-0114-5 (epub)

    978-1-4742-9840-7 (online)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
  • Published Online:
The Handbook of Food and Anthropology
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Interest in the anthropology of food has grown significantly in recent years. This is the first handbook to provide a detailed overview of all major areas of the field.

Twenty original essays by leading figures in the discipline examine traditional areas of research as well as cutting-edge areas of inquiry. Divided into three parts – Food, Self and Others; Food Security, Nutrition and Food Safety; Food as Craft, Industry and Ethics – the book covers topics such as identity, commensality, locality, migration, ethical consumption, artisanal foods, and children's food. Each chapter features rich ethnography alongside wider analysis of the subject.

Internationally renowned scholars offer insights into their core areas of specialty. Examples include Michael Herzfeld on culinary stereotypes, David Sutton on how to conduct an anthropology of cooking, Johan Pottier on food insecurity, and Melissa Caldwell on practicing food anthropology. The book also features exceptional geographic and cultural diversity, with chapters on South Asia, South Africa, the United States of America, post-socialist societies, Maoist China, and Muslim and Jewish foodways.

Invaluable as a reference as well as for teaching, The Handbook of Food and Anthropology serves to define this increasingly important field. An essential resource for researchers and students in anthropology and food studies.