Modern Chinese Foodways Conference 2021
Popular and scholarly interest in Chinese food has exploded since the original publication of K. C. Chang’s 1977 edited volume, Food in Chinese Culture: Anthropological and Historical Perspectives, yet the resulting field of endeavor has not yet grappled collectively with the questions of what makes Chinese food modern and why this matters. The past four decades since the publication of Chang’s volume have been marked by monumental social, political, and economic changes in the People’s Republic of China and in many other Chinese-speaking polities and communities. It is high time, now, for a critical reexamination of Chang’s central claim about continuity—five thousand years of a durable Chinese food culture—in order to carve out a more prominent intellectual space for consideration of its modern forms: What marks Chinese food as modern? When do these changes occur? What are the most significant factors influencing these changes? Equally, how do we account for continuities in culinary practices and dispositions across temporal, geographical, and political divides? How do we reconcile premodern and modern Chinese foodways, and articulate their complex relationship?
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