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Taste and the place of local food: Exploring the social and cultural geography of cuisine in South China

Lin, Junfan (2018) Taste and the place of local food: Exploring the social and cultural geography of cuisine in South China. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Abstract

Cuisine and food vary from region to region, and from ethnicity to ethnicity. Local food, dietary habits, cooking techniques, social conditions and cultural contexts are all seen as being related to the evolution of a cuisine. This thesis considers the roles of place and modernisation in shaping the development of a cuisine, and examines how people and ethnicity influence and are influenced by cuisine. Nanxiong is a remote and developing county situated in the northeast of Guangdong Province in South China, and most of its population belong to the Hakka ethnicity. Urbanisation and modernisation are two ongoing changes in this region. Nanxiong cuisine is influenced by neighbouring cuisines in Guangdong and Hunan and Jiangxi Provinces, and this mixed cultural context provides a good opportunity to explore contemporary relations between place and cuisine. Through ethnographic methods, this thesis investigates various issues such as ecological environment, everyday food practice, ethnic practices and events – food rituals, banquets and festivities in Nanxiong cuisine. It employs four main themes: cuisine and its relationship with taste and flavour, food authenticity and modernisation, the evolution of ethnic cuisine, and the nature of rituals and ceremony in relation to food culture. The thesis contains three principle arguments. The first is that place is a vital shaper of cuisine, more even than ethnicity. In Nanxiong cuisine, local seasonings and food, dietary habits, household kitchens are playing increasingly significant roles in defining the place of Nanxiong and its cuisine. The second relates to the transitory, constantly refashioned concept of food authenticity, and argues that pulses of modernity have not equally and uniformly influenced various aspects of Nanxiong cuisine. The third argument is that, when it comes to ethnic cuisine, its related elements and meanings are porous and contested. Ethnic culinary elements have been refined and partly retained as cultural signifiers to retain a sense of Hakka identity.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Environment (Leeds) > School of Geography (Leeds)
Depositing User: Junfan Lin
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2019 16:51
Last Modified: 07 Feb 2019 16:51
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/22756

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