Japanese Mothers and Obentos: The Lunch-Box as Ideological State Apparatus (Anne Allison)

“Obentos are boxed lunches Japanese mothers make for their nursery school children. Following Japanese codes for food preparation multiple courses that are aesthetically arranged, these lunches have a cultural order and meaning. Using the obento as a school ritual and chore it must be consumed in its entirety in the company of all the children the nursery school also endows the obento with ideological meanings. The child must eat the obento; the mother must make an obento the child will eat. Both mother and child are being judged; the subjectivities of both are being guided by the nursery school as an institution. It is up to the mother to make the ideological operation entrusted to the obento by the state-linked institution of the nursery school, palatable and pleasant for her child, and appealing and pleasurable for her as a mother.” (abstract)

Download: Japanese Mothes and Obentos: The Lunchbox as Ideological State Apparatus

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