In this paper, I use the lens of food to analyze immigrant integration, focusing on Nikkei cuisine, a type of Japanese ‘fusion’ food that emerged in the context of Japanese immigrants’ integration in Peru. Through the process of culinary transformation and food discourse in Peru, my aim is to analyze how a new genre of cuisine emerges and what it tells us about immigrant integration. I illustrate this by focusing on Nikkei Peruvians, or later-generation descendants of Japanese immigrants in Peru, whose identities have long been regarded as ambiguous despite their enhanced status and representation in the country’s political and economic arenas in recent years. The emergence and growing popularization of Nikkei cuisine, I argue, symbolizes the integration of Nikkei Peruvians into Peruvian society. Yet, the representation and recognition of Nikkei food as ‘Peruvian and Japanese fusion food’ indicates how Nikkei Peruvians integrate in Peru as Nikkei Peruvians. This was facilitated in the context where Peru increasingly celebrates its cultural diversity, promoting fusion food at the core of its identity in trying to brand itself as a diverse nation and boost its economy.
- cultural identity