Crossing Boundaries: The Globalization of Food

The articles in this special edition, published in either Food, Culture and Society or Global Food History, share the trope of crossing boundaries, the central action in any exploration of globalization. Something moves, whether it is foodstuffs, people, ideas about eating, or all of the above, across a boundary that is political, conceptual or geographic. A durian moves across the boundary from delicious to disgusting, Bangladeshi youth cross into the global fast food market, ice first crosses oceans and then crosses the boundary between luxury and necessity in Hawaii. Sometimes the crossings are multiple, as when Bulgarians experience Chinese food—from the East—as symbolic of their own participation in cultures of the West. One article—Jeffrey Pilcher’s on culinary infrastructure—invites us to focus specifically on the mechanisms of movement as central rather than incidental.

And as we read these pieces we also cross disciplines, geographies and imaginaries to discover patterns in analysis as well as in the many lives of food in the global context. The collection here is ideally suited for structuring a course on global food systems. Each individual section could likewise find its way into a course as a stand-alone unit. And of course pieces can be employed on their own to illustrate thinking about food globally. We hope this special issue will prove illuminating and useful, and that their attention to motion across boundaries will inspire you to travel with them virtually.