I am very happy to launch my CHI fellowship project, American Tastes, Russian Eats, at the end of the 2019-20 academic year. The random idea of creating a website about some U.S. fast food’s footprint in Russia came to my mind when I worked as a graduate teаching assistant for Dr. Helen Veit’s course History of Food and Alcohol in fall 2019. Studying Russian history in the United States and being interested in tinkering with geospatial data, I decided to explore the history and geography of one of the U.S. cultural heritages in Russia- fast food restaurants. I am glad that I have eventually materialized the idea. I am very thankful for all the know-how I have acquired in CHI and all the generous help I have received from CHI fellows along the journey. 

I have highlighted three U.S. brands in the project: Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza, and KFC. I showcase the history of their business expansion into Russia and their geographic distribution across Russia via several computational tools. On top of conducting research on the narrative of the three restaurant chains’ history in Russia, I have spent much time on scraping their geospatial data from individual websites and geocoding them into plottable coordinates. I used several python modules to finish geodata extraction and translation, including beautifulsoup, requests, and Yandex Geocoder. For parsing and plotting the geospatial data onto interactive maps, I primarily relied on QGIS to transform them into functional shapefile or geojson format and Plotly open-source library for convenient data visualization. In addition to data processing and visualization, I employed Mapbox Studio and the python library folium for web mapping and the great, handy JavaScript library TimelineJS for constructing the historical narrative. 

The project is not entirely complete at the moment. I will continue working on it and adding further content to populate the site.