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Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Dr Jakob Klein


Jakob Klein
Department of Anthropology and Sociology

Lecturer in Social Anthropology

SOAS China Institute

Academic Staff, SOAS China Institute

SOAS Food Studies Centre

Deputy Chair, SOAS Food Studies Centre

Dr Jakob Klein
Email address:
020 7898 4428
SOAS, University of London
Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG
Russell Square: College Buildings
Office No:
Office Hours:
Wednesdays 11am-1pm


Programmes Convened
Courses Taught
PhD Students supervised


Since the late 1990s I have been carrying out research in southern China, with a particular emphasis on the anthropology of food. Previous research concentrated on the city of Guangzhou (Canton), where I explored the transformation of regional cuisine and restaurant/teahouse culture under socialism and postsocialism (Klein 2006, 2007, 2008 (Enduring Socialism)).

I have recently completed research, begun in 2006, which examines the emergence of networks in and discourses on ‘ecological’ foods in Kunming, Yunnan province. The study focuses especially on activism and household food consumption, and charts Kunmingers’ various reactions to a rapidly changing food supply system. It sheds light on contemporary urban Chinese approaches to the countryside, locality, the environment, food safety hazards, health, development, and social differentiation (Klein 2009, 2013 (China Quarterly)). This research contributes to wider debates concerning ‘ethical consumption’ and ‘alternative food networks’, not least in postsocialist contexts (www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520277403). It also ties in with discussions on meat-eating and vegetarian movements in transnational perspective (Klein 2008 (South Asia)).

My current research concerns the transformation of regional cuisines and local speciality foods in China, with a focus on Yunnan Province (Klein 2013 (Food and History)). I am particularly interested in exploring how the trans-regional and transnational movements of foods, tourists, technologies, hygiene regulations, and ideas of heritage are impacting on producers and consumers of Chinese ‘local’ foods.  


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Available for
  • Radio
  • Press
  • Briefings
  • Special Study Programmes
  • Short Term Consultancy
  • Long Term Consultancy
  • TV
Regional Expertise
  • East Asia
Country Expertise
  • China
  • Swedish


Edited Books

Jung, Yuson and Klein, Jakob A. and Caldwell, Melissa L., eds. (2014) Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Latham, Kevin and Thompson, Stuart and Klein, Jakob A., eds. (2006) Consuming China: approaches to cultural change in contemporary China. London; New York: Routledge.

Book Chapters

Klein, Jakob A. and Jung, Yuson and Caldwell, Melissa L. (2014) 'Introduction: Ethical Eating and (Post)socialist Alternatives.' In: Jung, Yuson and Klein, Jakob A. and Caldwell, Melissa L., (eds.), Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 1-24.

Klein, Jakob A. (2014) 'Connecting with the Countryside? "Alternative" Food Movements with Chinese Characteristics.' In: Jung, Yuson and Klein, Jakob A. and Caldwell, Melissa L., (eds.), Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World. Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 116-143.

Klein, Jakob A. and Pottier, Johan and West, Harry G. (2012) 'New Directions in the Anthropology of Food.' In: Fardon, Richard and Harris, Olivia and Marchand, Trevor H. J. and Nuttall, Mark and Shore, Cris and Strang, Veronica and Wilson, Richard A., (eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Social Anthropology. London: SAGE Publications Ltd, pp. 293-302.

Klein, Jakob A. (2009) 'Chinese meals: diversity and change.' In: Meiselman, Herbert L., (ed.), Meals in science and practice: interdisciplinary research and business applications. Cambridge: Woodhead, pp. 452-482.

Klein, Jakob A. (2008) '"For eating, it’s Guangzhou": regional culinary traditions and Chinese socialism.' In: West, H. and Raman, P., (eds.), Enduring Socialism: Explorations of Revolution and Transformation, Restoration and Continuation. Oxford; New York: Berghahn.

Klein, Jakob A. (2006) 'Changing Tastes in Guangzhou: Restaurant Writings in the Late 1990s.' In: Latham, K. and Thompson, S. and Klein, J., (eds.), Consuming China. Approaches to Cultural Change in Contemporary China. London; New York: Routledge, pp. 104-120.


Klein, Jakob A. (2013) 'Everyday approaches to food safety in Kunming.' The China Quarterly, 214 . pp. 376-393.

Klein, Jakob A. (2013) '“There is no such thing as Dian cuisine!” Food and local identity in urban Southwest China.' Food and History, 11 (1). pp. 203-225.

Klein, Jakob A. (2009) 'Creating ethical food consumers? Promoting organic foods in urban Southwest China.' Social Anthropology, 17 (1). pp. 74-89.

Klein, Jakob A. (2008) 'Afterword: Comparing Vegetarianisms.' South Asia Journal of South Asian Studies, 31 (1). pp. 199-212.

Klein, Jakob A. (2007) 'Redefining Cantonese cuisine in post-Mao Guangzhou.' Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 70 (3). pp. 511-537.

This list was generated on Thu Oct 2 01:10:19 2014 BST.