Keiko Tanaka

ktanaka's picture
  • Professor of Sociology
  • Japan Studies
  • Modern & Classical Languages Literatures & Cultures
  • Sociology
704 Garrigus Building
(859) 257-7574, (859) 351-9252
Research Interests:

Ph.D., Michigan State University, 1997



Professor Tanaka's research primarily focuses on the role of agricultural science and technology in reconfiguring the relationship between production and consumption in the global context. Her recent work examines knowledge politics surrounding food safety, healthy food, agricultural sustainability, and food localization. Beside the Sociology program, she teaches courses in the Sustainable Agriculture Program in the College of Agriculture and the UK Honor’s Program. Dr. Tanaka also directs the UK Asia Center which provides instructional and outreach programs on Asian societies and cultures for UK community members and Kentuckians.

Listen to Keiko Tanaka on WUKY as she speaks about a recent study on food concerns in Kentucky

Selected Publications: 

Tanaka, K. and P. Mooney. Forthcoming. “Public Scholarship and Community Engagement in Building Community Food Security: The Case of the University of Kentucky.” Rural Sociology.

Yotsumoto, Y., K. Sakamoto, and K. Tanaka. 2009 “Conception of Rice among Japanese Expatriates in Kentucky.” Journal of Social Sciences, 19(1): 19-26.

Tanaka, K. 2008. “Seven Samurai to Protect ‘Our’ Food: The Reform of Food Safety Regulatory System in Japan After the BSE Crisis of 2001.” Agriculture and Human Values, 25(4): 567-580.

Tanaka, K. and V. Bhavsar. 2008. “The Role of Southern SARE Projects in Enhancing the Quality of Life in Rural Communities in the South.” Southern Rural Sociology, 28(1): 23-46.

Tanaka, K. and E. Ransom. 2007. “Producers, Consumers and Citizens in the Global Agrofood System: The Cases of New Zealand and South Africa in the Global Red Meat Chain.” Pp. 247-272 in W. Wright and G. Middendorf (eds.), Food Fights: Producers, Consumers, and Activists Challenge the Global Food System. University Park: Penn State University Press Rural Studies Series.

Dr. Tanaka's publications appear in Rural SociologySociologia RuralisSoutheast Asian Journal of Social Sciences, and Science, Technology, and Human Values

Current Research Projects
“Building Agricultural Sustainability and Local Food Economy in Kentucky.” (The Dr. and Mrs. C. Milton Coughenour Research Professorship in Agricultural Sociology and Natural Resources, 2008-12). This project examines transformations of Kentucky agriculture in the last decade in the three areas: (a) alternative farming and marketing endeavors by Kentucky farmers, (b) public programs (e.g., KDA’s Kentucky Proud) to support these endeavors, and (c) community-based initiatives to address issues concerning agricultural sustainability and localizing food economy.

“Lexington Community Food Assessment.” (with P. Mooney; see This is an on-going integrated research, teaching, and outreach project with Dr. Patrick Mooney. Through Dr. Tanaka’s courses at various levels, students carry out research and/or outreach activities to improve our understanding about food security as a private trouble and public issue in Lexington and to develop suggestions to address the issue.

“Research and Education Support for the Renewal of an Agriculture f the Middle.” (USDA-NC1036, 2008-10). The decline of the mid-size family farm sector in American agriculture poses threats to the agrifood system and to rural communities. This multi-state project aims to examine alternative production and marketing strategies to rejuvenate the mid-size family farm sector. 

“Globalizing Agricultural Education: Sustainable Agriculture, Food, and Rural Development.” (USDA-ISE, 2010-13) This three-year integrated research, instruction, and outreach project builds upon the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture’s long-time partnership with the University of Lampung and Syiah Kuala University in Indonesia. The project aims to enhance the curricula of agricultural education at the secondary and post-secondary levels and agricultural education programs conducted by community organizations (e.g., 4H, FFA).

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