Merry White (also known as Corky) was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Chicago and Minnesota. She received her degrees (A.B., A.M., and PhD) from Harvard University in Anthropology (East Asian), Comparative Literature (English, French and Italian), and Sociology (Japan). She was Director of the Project on Human Potential at the Harvard Graduate School of Education from 1980 - 1986, a multinational study of learning with case studies in Japan, India, The People's Republic of China, Egypt, West Africa and Mexico. She was also Director of International Education at the School of Education during this period, and from 1976 - 1987 was administrator of the East Asian Studies undergraduate program at Harvard College. In 1987 she began teaching at Boston University and received tenure in 1989.
Her publications include: Coffee Life in Japan, (University of California Press, 2012); Perfectly Japanese: Making Family in an Era of Upheaval (University of California Press, 2002); The Material Child: Coming of Age in Japan and America (Free Press, 1993; Dobunshoin, 1993; University of California Press, 1994); Comparing Cultures (with Sylvan Barnet, Bedford Books, 1995); The Japanese Educational Challenge, (Free Press, 1986, Princeton University Press 1992, and Shueisha, 1992); The Japanese Overseas, (Free Press, 1988); Human Conditions (with Robert LeVine, Routledge, 1987) and Challenging Tradition: Women in Japan, (Japan Society, 1992). In addition she has published two cookbooks, Cooking for Crowds (Basic Books, 1973) and Noodles Galore (Basic Books 1976) and has written many articles on food and culture.
Merry White teaches courses on urban Japanese society, on food and culture, on women in Asia and on the anthropology of travel and tourism. In addition to teaching and writing, Dr. White is also consultant to educational and media projects related to Japan and to culinary anthropology. She has studied cooking in Japan and Italy, and was a professional caterer. She has also recently worked with the Discovery Channel to create a television series on Asian foodways, appearing in a one hour segment on Japanese cuisine which won two Asian Television awards. Her next project is a book on the world history of food, written with her son Ben Wurgaft, to be followed by a research project on the natures of food work. She also works with a project to sell Cambodian coffee in Japan, in order to support local development and elementary schools in north-eastern Cambodia. She has two children: Jennifer (White) Callaghan who is a lawyer in London, and Benjamin Wurgaft, an intellectual historian in Berkeley, California, and one grandchild, Meghan Callaghan. Merry White lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, about half-way between them.
A recent interview:http://www.heartnstomach.com/post/19730573134/corky-white-on-second-winds-japan-and-the-beards#.T2t2GC0GN-k.email