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The Art of Rice: Spirit and Sustenance in Asia

"[This book] explores aspects of rice expressed through the arts and material objects of linguistically and culturally diverse areas of Asia. Hamilton presents 35 essays, contributed by himself and 26 scholars and experts from ten countries and a variety of disciplines. Their perspectives and the abundant revealing photographs bring to life rice as the focal point of interrelated beliefs and practices that sustain the populous region spanning India, Indonesia, and Japan. … Through eight sections – ranging from "Labor, Ritual, and the Cycle of Time" to "The Future of Rice" – the contributors chronicle a wide range of the many ways in which the cultivation and consumption of rice have become intertwined with elements of personal identities; ideas of family, community, and state; and religious beliefs and activities. … Many consider rice to be the ideal crop plant for research, and the impacts of several genome-sequencing projects are now rapidly advancing our understanding of rice genetics. Thus we are gaining tools to develop improved varieties to feed Asia's vast population in the future, and we are gaining new respect for this sacred plant. … Through both its text and its profuse illustrations, The Art of Rice offers an informative survey of the cultural context of a plant that continues to shape our lives."

Link to full book review in Science

Reference: Science 304, 1112 (2004)