China Seminar | 14 January 2010

The Globalization of Chinese Cuisine: The Myth, the Ethnic, and the Surprise

David Y. H. Wu David Y. H. Wu

Chinese cuisine and restaurant food, like Chinese culture and society, have often been portrayed and perceived as a single cultural system. Dr. Wu’s talk intends to provide alternative images of contrasting Chinese cuisines in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the U.S. that represent emerging cultural identities and global inventions. Based on his four decades of encounters with “Chinese” restaurants in North America, and anthropological research around the globe, Dr. Wu tells stories about the globalization of Chinese low cuisines in terms of transnational movements of people, capital, culture, imagination, and media exploration. From Egg Rolls, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Chop Suey, Chinaman’s Hat to Mongolian Shabu Shabu, Dr. Wu would like to break the myth and surprise you with his prediction of the future Chinese cuisine. The survival of Chinese high cuisine depends on the restaurant culture in the West, which emphasizes a “civilizing” process of social class and distinction.

Dr. Wu is currently an Adjunct Fellow at the East-West Center, and an Affiliate Graduate Faculty member of the University of Hawaii. Born in China, Dr. Wu received his education in Taiwan, the U.S., and Australia (Ph.D. 1974 in anthropology, Australian National University). Dr. Wu worked for twenty years at the East-West Center as a Research Associate and Senior Fellow, was Chair Professor of Anthropology in Chinese University of Hong Kong, and has also taught in China, Japan, Singapore, and Taiwan. He has published globally many books and articles in anthropology, culture and education, many of which are translated in many languages.