RIJS People Faculty
THEODORE C. BESTOR
Email: ted_bestor(at)harvard.edu | Faculty Website
Theodore C. Bestor is the Reischauer Institute Professor of Social Anthropology and Japanese Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. He is a specialist on contemporary Japanese society and culture, focusing much of his research on Tokyo. He has written widely on urban culture and history, markets and economic organization including supply chains, food culture, the fishing industry and the global environment, and popular culture.
Professor Bestor is the Past President of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), and was also the founding President of the Society for East Asian Anthropology. In June 2013 he received the Commissioner’s Award for the Promotion of Japanese Culture, from the Agency for Cultural Affairs of the Japanese government.
His current research focuses on the aftermath of the March 11 Tohoku earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, particularly their impact on national food supply and perceptions of food safety. With colleagues at Harvard, he is jointly leading a project called the Digital Archive of Japan's 2011 Disasters that seeks to preserve as much of the immediate post-disaster websites, social media feeds, news reports, and so forth as possible.
His most recent book (co-edited with Victoria Lyon Bestor and Akiko Yamagata) is the Routledge Handbook of Japanese Culture and Society (2011) an interdisciplinary resource that focuses on contemporary Japan and important social and cultural trends at the beginning of the 21st century.
His book, Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World (University of California Press, 2004), is based on research at Tokyo's vast Tsukiji wholesale market, the world's largest marketplace for seafood and the center of Japan's sushi trade. The book is an ethnography of market life, and examines Tsukiji both historically and contemporarily as a case study in the interaction between cultural patterns and institutional structures that frame complex economic organization.
His first book, Neighborhood Tokyo (Stanford University Press, 1989), was an ethnography of local social institutions and the invention of community tradition in the daily life of an ordinary middle-class district of Tokyo. It received the 1990 Robert E. Park Award for Urban and Community Studies from the American Sociological Association and the 1990 Hiromi Arisawa Memorial Award for Japanese Studies from the American Association of University Presses.
He is co-editor (with Patricia G. Steinhoff and Victoria Lyon Bestor) of Doing Fieldwork in Japan (University of Hawai'i Press, 2003), in addition to many other articles, chapters, and essays on a wide array of topics about Japan. With Victoria Lyon Bestor, he is also editing a forthcoming volume tentatively titled "Japanese Cuisine, Culture and Consumption."
Before joining Harvard's faculty in 2001, Professor Bestor taught at Cornell and Columbia Universities and the Kyoto Center for Japanese Studies. He was program director for Japanese and Korean Studies at the Social Science Research Council, after receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1983.
Photo credit: Tony Rinaldo