Organized Panel Session
In a Tokyo bread appreciation club, bread aficionados taste, rank and discuss breads from local bakeries. Afterwards, they fill a sheet of paper with an artistic depiction of the aficionado's dream bread, a creative and imaginative rendering—where club members commit aspirational ideas of bread into concrete illustrations and performed presentations. In doing so, they draw insight from various sources including the visual and gustatory work of bakery chefs as well as their own desires and culinary fancies.
In this paper, I discuss social and cultural production and creativity in the bakery sector in Japan and Taiwan. While technological 'innovations' and pressures of global capitalism have fostered increasing demands on enhancing productivity—and among debates, for example, on the hold of Japanese style management and related discourse on continued consensus (as well as dissent) (Tsutsui 1998, Kim 2000)—how does creativity fit in? How do individuals express creative aspirations (Condry 2013, Fung 2016, Reckwitz 2017) through organized, group and personal activities in a post-industrial framework in collaborative and individual pursuits?
Through analysis of multiyear fieldwork in urban and rural Japan and Taiwan, I consider the ways in which aficionados and professionals wield baking, as multivalent acts of nourishment provision and continued invention, in cultivating individual and cultural expression. I examine the ways bread artists and bakery producers in East Asia frame and articulate their own identities and positionalities vis-à-vis society as reproducing and transforming notions of modernity, self and nationalism through food production as creative aesthetic, artistic and artisanal endeavors.