In the most recent issue of ASIANetworkExchange, guest-edited by Professor of Sociology Jack Harris P’02, P’06, Associate Professor of Anthropology Chris Annear and Harris discuss the frontiers between national, regional and local cuisines rooted in Vietnam.
In their article, “Cooking up the Culinary Nation or Savoring its Regions? Teaching Food Studies in Vietnam,” they examine how “cookbook authors and cooking schools have more generally sought to represent Vietnamese dishes as national, but that there is a strong argument against the claim of a Vietnamese national cuisine.”
The full article is available online.
Annear and Harris go on to offer a pedagogical framework illustrating how Food Studies enables “students to study and learn at the intersection of national politics and the everyday lives of people,” as well as a lens “for understanding connections of labor, gender, class, and, essentially, taste, among many other values. In the case of Vietnamese food, the critical details of ingredients, preparation, and consumption both reveal and conceal truths about the Vietnamese people.”
Their article appears in the “Vietnam: Memories and Meaning” issue of the ASIANetworkExchange, an Asian studies journal for the liberal arts. Harris writes in his introduction that taken together, the papers in the issue highlight “that contemporary Vietnam cannot, and must not, escape its history. Vietnam is now unified and independent, and its extraordinary story is embodied in its resistance to domination. In its resilience and endurance, its absorption and adaptation of colonial experiences, and its expression of a varied social and cultural past through food and custom, Vietnam is ever hopeful about the future.”
A returned Peace Corps Volunteer, Annear holds a B.A. from Hampshire College, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from Boston University. His primary research explores the relationship between an ethnically heterogeneous population and an ecologically dynamic fishery in South-Central Africa, with additional work on the politics of international food aid, Zambian historiography, and student research in pedagogy. His scholarship has previously appeared in the Journal of Political Ecology and Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, and in the anthologies, Africa’s Challenge, Best of Gastronomica, The Gastronomica Reader, and Living the End of Empire: Politics and Society in Late Colonial Zambia. He directed the Colleges’ 2016 abroad program to Vietnam and is preparing to do so again this fall.
Harris teaches a range of internationally-oriented courses in sociology, often focusing on Vietnam. His research focuses primarily on men and masculinity in Vietnam and the experience of Vietnamese as they go through massive economic and social change. As an applied sociologist, he consults with local governments across the United States on business process reengineering, change management, and municipal information technology. Harris holds a B.A. from Tulane University and M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. Among his many academic experiences abroad, he has served as the core director of World Regional Geography for the Semester at Sea Program, director the Social Entrepreneurship program through ThinkImpact in Panama and director of a number of HWS abroad programs.