Theodore C. Bestor

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Theodore C. Bestor is a Professor of Anthropology and Japanese Studies at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He is currently the Director of the Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, and was Chair of the Department of Anthropology from 2007-12.

Before joining the Harvard faculty in 2001, Bestor taught at Cornell University and Columbia University, and was a visiting professor at the Kyoto Consortium for Japanese Studies. His first professional position was as program director for Japanese and Korean studies at the Social Science Research Council.

During 2013-13, he was President of the Association for Asian Studies, and has been president of the American Anthropological Association's Society for Urban Anthropology and the Society for East Asian Anthropology (of which he was the founding president).

Bestor has written widely on the culture and society of Japan. Much of his research has focused on contemporary Tokyo, including an ethnography of daily life in an ordinary neighborhood, Miyamoto-cho. Since the early 1990s his primary research has concerned Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market where he has studied the economic anthropology of institutions, and has focused also on food culture, globalization, and Japan's fishing industry.]

In 2013, Bestor received an award from Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs for his contributions to international understanding of Japan.

Bestor was born August 7, 1951, in Urbana, Illinois. His father, Arthur Bestor, was a historian of American 19th century communitarian settlements and of the origins and development of the American constitution. His mother, Dorothy Alden Koch Bestor, was a professor of English literature. Bestor lived in Champaign-Urbana until he was 11, when his parents moved to Seattle. Bestor first visited Japan in 1967, when his father received a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at the University of Tokyo, Rikkyo University, and Doshisha University.

He attended secondary school in Seattle and graduated from Fairhaven College of Western Washington University in 1973. His graduate education was at Stanford University, where he received Masters degrees in East Asian Studies (1976) and Anthropology (1977), and a PhD in Anthropology in 1983. During his graduate studies, he spent two years at the Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies in Tokyo.

His wife, with whom he has co-edited and co-authored many publications, is Victoria Lyon Bestor. She is the Executive Director of the North America Coordinating Council on Japanese Library Resources. They have a son, Nicholas, born in 1986.


  • Doing Fieldwork in Japan, Theodore C. Bestor, Patricia G. Steinhoff, and Victoria Lyon Bestor (co-editors), University of Hawai'i Press, 2003 (ISBN 0-8248-2734-1)
  • Neighborhood Tokyo, Theodore C. Bestor, Stanford University Press 1989 and Kodansha International 1990 (ISBN 0-8047-1797-4)
  • Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World, Theodore C. Bestor, University of California Press, Berkeley, 2004 (ISBN 0-520-22024-2)

Further reading[edit]


  • 1990 Choice Outstanding Academic Book Award.
  • 1990 Hiromi Arisawa Memorial Award, given by the American Association of University Presses.
  • 1990 Robert Park Award, given by the American Sociological Association.

External links[edit]