Faculty Seminar Series in
Asian American Studies

Dubious Gastronomy

Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Time: 6:30PM to 8:30PM

Place: 25 West 43rd Street, Room 1000
between 5th & 6th Avenues, Manhattan

Free Admission
RSVP Required Via Phone or Email

Presenter: Robert Ku (Asian Amer. Studies, SUNY Binghamton) re "Dubious Food"

Commentator: Linta Varghese (Vassar)

SPAM (not unwanted emails but the canned meat), the California roll, American Chinese food, kimchi made by Latino men in Queens, monosodium glutamate, dogmeat, soyless soy sauce--these are examples of what Robert Ji-Song Ku calls "dubious" Asian foods in his book, Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA. Each of these foods are commonly understood as bad, depraved, or ersatz Asian food, or not Asian at all. With the exception of dogmeat, which most Americans associate exclusively with corrupt Asia, each are considered suspect because it either presumably originated in or has crossed over too far into the US mainstream. Dubious Gastronomy contends that Asian food in the US shares a spiritual fellowship with Asians Americans. The Asian presence in the US--be it culinary or corporeal--is watered-down, counterfeit, inauthentic, at least when measured against a largely mythical if not entirely imaginary standard of so-called real or authentic Asia. That is to say, Asian Americanness is anything but kosher (in both religious and secular senses). It is impure, unclean, hybridized--which, Ku argues, is not necessary a bad thing, but, rather, actually quite delicious.

Robert Ji-Song Ku is an Associate Professor in the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies at Binghamton University of the State University of New York.  He served as the Associate Director of the Asian and Asian American Studies Program at Binghamton from 2005 until 2008, when the program became a department.  Previously, he chaired the Department of Ethnic Studies at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and directed the Asian American Studies Program at Hunter College of the City University of New York. His research interests range from modern American literature and culture to Asian American studies, from studies of ethnographic and touristic displays to his current book project on the cultural politics of Asian food within a transnational and diasporic context. His essays, reviews, and other writing appear in a wide-array of publications, including the journals Amerasia, The Journal of Asian American Studies, The Journal of American Drama and Theatre, Food and Foodways, and Gastronomica (forthcoming), and the anthologies Asian American Literature, Teaching Asian America, Crossing into America, and Linguistics in Context.  He is currently completing a manuscript entitled Dubious Gastronomy: The Cultural Politics of Eating Asian in the USA. Born in Korea and raised in Hawai'i, he cannot help but adore the most dubious food of all--SPAM, SPAM, wonderful SPAM.

Linta Varghese is a Visiting Scholar in the Anthropology Department at Vassar College. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from The University of Texas, Austin, and is currently working on a manuscript titled The Productive Class: Domestic Work, Neoliberalism and Rethinking Working Class Subjectivity in South Asian America. Her areas of research and teaching include Asian American and South Asian American Studies, neoliberalism and subject formation, theories of diaspora, and urban anthropology.

Series Organizer: Kyoo Lee, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at John Jay College, CUNY, and a Resident Mellon Fellow at CUNY Graduate Center.

Details on full schedule of Fall 2010 seminar sessions: www.kyoolee.net/faculty-seminar-in-asian-american-studies.html




Search AAARI.info

Asian American / Asian Research Institute 2018

25 West 43rd Street, Room 1000, New York, NY 10036   
Phone: 212-869-0182 / 0187   
Fax: 212-869-0181 | E-mail: