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The Kyoto Brand: Protecting Agricultural and Culinary Heritage

de St. Maurice, Gregory (2015) The Kyoto Brand: Protecting Agricultural and Culinary Heritage. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Farmers, chefs, government officials, and consumers in Kyoto, Japan have worked to protect their gastronomic heritage and promote the local food industry using place brands that allow them to engage with outside actors and resources, resulting in a comparatively open and inclusive localism. Stakeholders in Kyoto’s agricultural and food sector have sought to minimize the negative impacts of globalization not by trying to close their borders or enact rules that strictly define and demarcate Kyoto’s food culture as separate, pure, and resistant to change but rather by allowing for the development of multiple place brands that can help better position Kyoto’s agriculture and food industry on the global stage. Kyoto’s place brands tend toward inclusiveness and fluidity, enabling overlapping and nested place brands to co-exist and supporting the incorporation of objects, ideas, and people from outside of Kyoto. At scales that vary from neighborhoods to the entire prefecture, these brands draw on Kyoto’s appeal as Japan’s “ancient imperial capital,” a trope that has helped make Kyoto one of Japan’s most powerful place brands according to recent consumer surveys.
This research pays particular attention to place brands for three different products: heirloom vegetables, green tea, and local cuisine. In this dissertation, I analyze data obtained from fieldwork conducted in Kyoto in 2012-3, including semi-structured and informal interviews and participant observation at events centered on Kyoto’s food culture, from farmers’ markets and culinary research meetings to annual events like the prefectural and national agricultural fairs for tea. I also utilize discourse analysis of government documents, marketing materials, and various media. By demonstrating how people treat place as a brand and analyzing the repercussions this has, this research adds a new dimension to the theoretical literature on place. It also provides an ethnographic case study about boundary maintenance to the literature on branding and place brands. Kyoto’s example also holds lessons for local economies seeking to strategically position themselves in the face of new challenges, demonstrating the power of place brands as well as the insight that openness and flexibility can serve to protect and revivify local industry and tradition.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
de St. Maurice, Gregorygrd11@pitt.eduGRD11
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairScaglion, Richardscaglion@pitt.eduSCAGLION
Committee MemberAlter, Josephjsalter@pitt.eduJSALTER
Committee MemberBrown, L. Keithlkb@pitt.eduLKB
Committee MemberHashimoto, Akikoahash@pitt.eduAHASH
Committee MemberJulier,
Committee MemberLukacs, Gabriellalukacs@pitt.eduLUKACS
Date: 14 September 2015
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 26 May 2015
Approval Date: 14 September 2015
Submission Date: 28 July 2015
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 291
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Anthropology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kyoto, Japan, food studies, anthropology, globalization, sensory ethnography.
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2015 14:19
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2020 05:15


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