Merry White is Professor of Anthropology at Boston University, specializing in Japanese studies. Her research interests have included Japanese education, Japanese families and social policy, urban life in Japan, and food culture in Japan. Books she has written include The Japanese Educational Challenge, Japanese Overseas, The Material Child, Perfectly Japanese and most recently, Coffee Life in Japan. This recent book treats coffee and cafes in Japanese social history, emphasizing the functions, ubiquity and character of these important “third spaces” in people’s lives. She is a food anthropologist whose career includes professional catering and cookbook writing. Her first cookbook, Cooking for Crowds, was recently republished as a 40th Anniversary edition by Princeton University Press.
Merry White’s current research project concerns food work in Japan, including all aspects of the production and provision of food. She has visited farms and large-scale factories, artisanal food workshops, home kitchens, restaurants and yatai, cooking schools, and training programs for chefs. At this time, she will focus on the tools of cooking, including knife-making and other significant utensils for the production of food.
Merry White received the Imperial honor from the Government of Japan, the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays and Neck Ribbon.