Niamh Calway


calway niamh pic






Niamh Calway

DPhil candidate, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies


I’m in my first year as a DPhil researcher in Oriental Studies with a BA in Chinese studies and an MSt in Korean Studies, both from the University of Oxford. My research focuses on the sociocultural effects of culinary changes in China, Korea and Japan as the result of cross-cultural exchange with Iberian nations in the early modern period as reflected in recipe manuscripts. This project builds on my BA thesis surrounding Chinese author Yuan Mei’s late-eighteenth century gastronomic treatise Suiyuan shidan and a master’s thesis on Korean author Yi Pinghŏgak’s early-nineteenth century encyclopaedia Kyuhap ch’ongsŏ. I also have a forthcoming book on the topic of the aforementioned Kyuhap ch’ongsŏ, featuring an English translation of selected chapters and recipes from the work as well as a commentary on the text and full analysis of its historical context. Outside of this research, I have worked on manuscripts for various papers and book chapters on the topic of culinary language, particularly translanguaging practices surrounding East Asian cuisine in English-speaking contexts.

DPhil topic

‘Early Modern Cultural Exchange Through the Lens of East Asian Cookbooks’

This project looks at the sociocultural effects of culinary changes in China, Korea and Japan as a result of cross-cultural exchange with European (primarily Iberian) nations in the early modern period as reflected in recipes and cookbooks. It will trace the trans-national origins of culinary traditions now considered ‘authentically’ Asian, delving into the formation of cultural identity, both national and individual, in conjunction with food production, consumption and theory. It will also contribute to the still-emerging field of food studies whilst affirming the validity of recipe books and manuscripts as a rich textual source with great interdisciplinary potential. By reading Chinese, Korean and Japanese language sources (supported by Spanish and Portuguese works where necessary), I will also redress the imbalance in historical narratives on East Asia, presenting a self-narrated study of early modern East Asian food cultures, wherein Western-introduced ingredients and technologies are incorporated into a uniquely ‘Asian’ synthesis of culinary norms. This thesis draws on interdisciplinary methodologies based in historical, linguistic, sociological and anthropological analyses, as well as engaging with postcolonialism and gender studies. My approach to this research is guided by the following questions: How do changes in East Asian recipe texts throughout the Columbian Exchange period reflect Iberian influences? And in what ways do these changes reflect distinct social and cultural changes within their East Asian context? By answering these questions, I illuminate the effects of cross-cultural exchange between the Iberian Peninsula and East Asia during the early modern period through the lens of food and cuisine.