Theodore C. Bestor
Director, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies
On Leave AY 2019-2020
Research and Teaching Interests: Food culture and food systems; markets and marketplaces; economic institutions and exchange; urban space, place, and identity; visual history and cartography; cultural heritage; disaster and recovery; digital research methods; fishing industry; Japan, East Asia, North America.
Theodore C. Bestor is the Director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies and Reischauer Professor of Social Anthropology at Harvard University.
He is a specialist on contemporary Japanese society and culture; much of his research focuses on Tokyo, and he has written widely on urban culture and history, local neighborhood society and identity, markets and economic organization, food culture, and popular culture as a defining aspect of urban Japanese life.
Currently his research focuses on Japanese food culture and, in particular, on the globalization of Japanese cuisine and its intense popularity throughout the world.
Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World, published in 2003 (with a second edition out in 2014) is based on Bestor’s research over the past 20 years on Tokyo’s vast seafood market and its role in Japan's sushi trade.
He is the co-editor, with Victoria Lyon Bestor, of the recent Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society, a collection of essays ranging widely over history, arts, humanities, and social sciences.
Bestor received his PhD and MA from Stanford University, and his BA from Fairhaven College of Western Washington University. After teaching at Columbia and Cornell, he joined the Harvard faculty in 2001.
He has been the President of the Association for Asian Studies (2012-13), and in June 2013 Bestor received the Commissioner’s Award for the Promotion of Japanese Culture, from the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese government. In March 2017 he was appointed to the Board of Delegates of the American Council of Learned Societies. Also in 2017, Professor Bestor was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon by the Jappanese Government. The Order of the Rising Sun is one of Japan’s highest distinctions and is awarded in recognition of Professor Bestor’s extensive contributions to the study of Japan and to the promotion of scholarly and educational exchange between Japan and the United States of America throughout his career.
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