China's dairy century - making, drinking and dreaming of milk
Thomas Dubois - Historian of Chinese Religion and Society, Australian National University
China’s dairy industry has of late become big news. A country that few would have instinctively associated with milk has emerged as the world’s third largest producer (following India and the United States), and second largest consumer of dairy. But the significance of dairy in China is not merely one of aggregate industry size, nor is its emergence a wholly recent phenomenon.
Milk was not a major theme in China’s twentieth century, but it was a surprisingly persistent one. Looking back, one will see peaks of interest—a new dairy here, milk safety scandal there, and images of happy, milk-fed babies throughout. But do these very different sorts of events constitute a single story? This presentation examines China’s century of dairy as three distinct processes—production, consumption and culture—discussing each according to its own sources, standards and logic. Besides introducing the vital transformation of China's animal industries, this talk aims to introduce some new ways to think about how we make, consume and think about food.