Professor Theodore C. Bestor is a specialist on contemporary Japanese society and culture, focusing much of his research on Tokyo. He has written widely on urban culture and history, markets and economic organization, food culture, the fishing industry, and popular culture.

Professor Bestor’s most recent book, Tsukiji: The Fish Market at the Center of the World (University of California Press, 2004), is based on research he has being carrying out since 1991 at Tokyo's vast Tsukiji wholesale market, the world's largest marketplace for seafood and the center of Japan's sushi trade. The book is an ethnography of market life, and examines Tsukiji both historically and contemporarily as a case study in the interaction between cultural patterns and institutional structures that frame complex economic organization. He also researches the development of Japanese food culture broadly, and he is working on a book tentatively entitled Global Sushi that will look at globalization via the interaction of the fishing industry and culinary fashions.

He is the co-editor (with Patricia G. Steinhoff and Victoria Lyon Bestor) of Doing Fieldwork in Japan (University of Hawai’i Press, 2003), a collection of essays on the research experiences of 20 leading foreign scholars of Japan in the social sciences and history.

His first book, Neighborhood Tokyo (Stanford University Press, 1989), was an ethnography of local social institutions and the invention of community tradition in the daily life of an ordinary middle-class district of Tokyo. It received the 1990 Robert E. Park Award for Urban and Community Studies from the American Sociological Association and the 1990 Hiromi Arisawa Memorial Award for Japanese Studies from the American Association of University Presses.

Before coming to Harvard, Professor Bestor taught at Cornell University, where he was Professor (1997-2001) and Associate Professor (1993-97) of Anthropology and Asian Studies. Before that, he was on the faculty at Columbia University (1986-93) and served as staff director for Japanese and Korean Studies at the Social Science Research Council (1983-86).

Professor Bestor first visited Japan as a teenager, and since then has spent over eight years there as a student, researcher, and teacher. He received his Ph.D. in 1983 from Stanford University.