The “Oriental Julia Child”: Chinese American Cuisine, Gendered Orientalism, and the Cold War


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




My project argues that Chinese American cuisine was an essential site of soft power during the Cold War for the United States, Taiwan, the People's Republic of China, and the Chinese American community. It focuses on the careers of elite, female Chinese celebrity chefs who immigrated to the United States after the end of the Chinese Civil War. My dissertation demonstrates how they crafted a sense of authenticity in their cuisine, restaurants, and public images that reshaped negative stereotypes about Chinese Americans and advanced broader US-China diplomatic interests. Using oral history, literary analysis, and performance theory, I reveal how this representation relied upon the unique intersectionality between their race, gender, class, educational background, and immigration status.