Anthropologist to discuss new cultural imperialism in China

James L. Watson, Fairbank Professor of Chinese Society and professor of anthropology at Harvard University, will discuss The New Cultural Imperialism: McDonald’s in China at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 14, in the Keck Classroom of Pettengill Hall, 4 Andrews Road. The public is invited to attend free of charge.

Watson is an editor of and contributor to Golden Arches East: McDonald’s in East Asia, which features case studies of fast-food consumption in Hong Kong, Taipei, Beijing, Seoul and Tokyo. “At a time when academics regularly write impenetrably about abstruse irrelevancies, this book is engaging and arises from straightforward questions,” said The New York Times.

Currently at work on a book about worldwide food scares, including reactions to bioengineered food, Watson also teaches courses on Chinese society, transnational global culture and comparative food systems at Harvard University. He and his anthropology graduate students are investigating the impact of transnational food industries in East Asia, Russia and Europe.

Watson specializes in Chinese rural society with a focus on southern China. He learned to speak Cantonese in the Hong Kong New Territories during the late 1960s and has subsequently worked in many parts of post-revolution China. His research has focused on Chinese migration, agricultural development, family life and village organization, food systems and the emergence of a post-socialist culture in the People’s Republic of China.

A prolific scholar, Watson’s publications include Emigration and the Chinese Lineage, Between Two Cultures: Migrants and Minorities in Britain, Class and Social Stratification in Post-Revolution China and Death and Ritual in Chinese Society.

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