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SPECIAL ISSUE: FOOD SOVEREIGNTY AND THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD: ETHNOGRAPHIC APPROACHES TO POLICY AND PRACTICE (Guest Editor: Graeme MacRae)
- Graeme MacRae: Food Sovereignty and the Anthropology of Food: Ethnographic Approaches to Policy and Practice
- Jacqueline A. C. Vel, John F. Mccarthy And Zahari Zen: The Conflicted Nature of Food Security Policy: Balancing Rice, Sugar and Palm Oil in Indonesia
- Ramesh Sunam and Jagannath Adhikari: How does Transnational Labour Migration Shape Food Security and Food Sovereignty? Insights from Nepal
- Graeme MacRae: Himalayan Agricultures, Ecologies and Local Food Sovereignties
- Wakako Takeda, Cathy Banwell and Jane Dixon: Advancing Food Sovereignty or Nostalgia: The Construction of Japanese Diets in the National Shokuiku Policy
- Isa Ritchie: Food Sovereignty in Whaingaroa: Perspectives of Food Providers in a Small, Coastal New Zealand Township
REGULAR ARTICLES: Involving Anthropology
- Tim Ingold: A Naturalist Abroad in The Museum of Ontology: Philippe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture
- Philippe Descola: Biolatry: A Surrender of Understanding (Response to Ingold's A Naturalist Abroad in the Museum of Ontology)
- Tim Ingold: Rejoinder to Descola’s Biolatry: A Surrender of Understanding
FOOD SOVEREIGNTY AND THE ANTHROPOLOGY OF FOOD:
ETHNOGRAPHIC APPROACHES TO POLICY AND PRACTICE
(Guest Editor: Graeme MacRae)
Massey University (Auckland)
Introduction to: Food Sovereignty and the Anthropology of Food: Ethnographic Approaches to Policy and Practice
This introduction discusses the theoretical and methodological basis of the articles in the special issue: ‘Food Sovereignty and the Anthropology of Food: Ethnographic Approaches to Policy and Practice’. Firstly, it argues a need for an ongoing anthropology of food, grounded in ethnographic studies at various points in supply chains. Secondly, it foregrounds an inherent similarity of approach between the thinking and methods of the Food Sovereignty movement, on the one hand, and anthropology, on the other.
Jacqueline A. C. Vel, John F. Mccarthy And Zahari Zen
Jacqueline A.C. Vel. Van Vollenhoven Institute, Leiden Law School, Leiden University, Leiden, the Netherlands.
John F. McCarthy, Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.
Zahari Zen , University of North Sumatra, Medan, Indonesia.
The Conflicted Nature of Food Security Policy: Balancing Rice, Sugar and Palm Oil in Indonesia
Given the multiple problems presented by food policy, food security presents a complex dilemma for policy makers. This paper examines the contradictions presented by competing food security, food self-sufficiency, and food sovereignty framings, the challenge of policy making across multiple levels amidst competing agendas of agricultural commodity production and production for self-provisioning populations, and the need to balance economic development with sustainable food production. From an analysis of rice, palm oil and sugar cases in Indonesia, we conclude that the conflicted nature of food policy needs to be understood in terms of the way specific material and ideational, actor-specific and structural factors working across scale shape outcomes in a highly uneven fashion. We find that this produces a policy field highly resistant to single analytical approaches, opening up the wide range of internally conflicting, related policy questions encompassed by food security related policy.
Ramesh Sunam and Jagannath Adhikari
Ramesh Sunam, Department of Political and Social Change, Bell School, Australian National University
Jagannath Adhikari, Faculty of Humanities, Curtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia
How does Transnational Labour Migration Shape Food Security and Food Sovereignty? Insights from Nepal
Achieving food security has become a critical development issue. It is more so for Nepal, a country facing serious social and economic problems. In recent years, Nepal has seen rising temporary-work migration of people to foreign countries with implications for food security, even in distant rural places. In this article, we examine differential effects of transnational labour migration on food security and food sovereignty in migrant-sending rural areas. In so doing, we draw on the fresh insights gained from case studies carried out in villages representing two distinct geographical regions of Nepal – Tarai (Plains) and Hills. Findings show complex and contradictory effects of transnational labour migration; while remittances and migration-induced rural employment benefited both migrant and non-migrant households, a growing speculative land market and subsequent conversion of arable land into non-agricultural uses pose critical threats to access to food for all, especially the poor. We conclude that migration and remittances have led to improved food security on a short-term basis, but have caused erosion in food sovereignty through generating adverse effects on local food production, and thus resulting in growing dependence on food imports. Rather than considering food security and food sovereignty as rival frameworks, this paper suggests that combining the two concepts offer rich and broader understandings of the impacts of migration on rural people’s access to food.
School of People, Environment and Planning, Massey University Albany
Himalayan Agricultures, Ecologies and Local Food Sovereignties
In July 2013, India passed a Food Security Ordinance designed to guarantee cheap grain for the poor – about two thirds of the population. This was largely in belated recognition of levels of child malnutrition exceeding that of the whole of Africa. This massive food insecurity has been the flip-side of spectacular economic growth, largely in urban areas, which has created one of the largest middle-classes in the world. The policies which enabled this growth reversed decades of previous policy prioritising national food production and rural development. Other consequences have included corporatisation and ‘neoliberalisation’ of agriculture¬ and widespread ‘agrarian distress’ manifesting most dramatically in epidemic levels of farmer suicides.
One of the few exceptions to this pattern has been the foothills of the Himalayas, where agriculture has been relatively insulated from these changes and food sovereignty has remained largely in the hands of local communities. But this has not been without challenges of economic under-development, out-migration, environmental degradation, and most recently the floods of June 2013. This article argues that the cultural ecologies of the hills provide a model and foundation for rural development based on traditional agriculture and local food sovereignty.
Wakako Takeda, Cathy Banwell and Jane Dixon
National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Research School of Population Health, Australian National University
Advancing Food Sovereignty or Nostalgia: The Construction of Japanese diets in the National Shokuiku Policy
Food sovereignty is a trans-national movement that asserts the right of people to govern their own food system as an alternative to neoliberal food policies. In 2005, the Japanese government introduced the Basic Law of Shokuiku (food and nutrition education) to promote national food self-sufficiency, improve public health, and preserve local culinary culture through domestic food consumption. This paper argues that the campaign attempts to advance both governmental and public interests in food sovereignty by constructing common images of Japanese diets and nostalgia for rural agriculture; along the way it attempts to increase a sense of solidarity between urban consumers and rural producers. Nevertheless, the campaign focuses on consumer’s food literacy, thus framing food sovereignty as responsibilities of people, and diverts public attention from structural issues embedded within the nation’s food system, including national dependence on other countries for food security, as well as the marginal economic status of rural agriculture. Simultaneously, the feeling of nostalgia for rural agriculture remains, expanding an imaginary of food sovereignty among some urban consumers. Drawing on an investigation of policy discourses and in-depth interviews with young adult consumers in urban Japan, this paper examines how the notion of food sovereignty and Japanese diets have been constructed and advanced through the nationwide Shokuiku campaign. The decade-long campaign has evolved to become an agent of social control of urban consumer food consumption rather than helping consumers to play a role in establishing a system underpinned by food sovereignty as an alternative to the industrial present.
Faculty of Arts and Social Science, University of Waikato, Wellington
Food Sovereignty in Whaingaroa: Perspectives of Food Providers in a Small, Coastal New Zealand Township
Food sovereignty has been the focus of much academic attention in recent years, in both the global South and the North. As yet, very little research has been published exploring food sovereignty in a New Zealand context. This article presents some preliminary findings from my doctoral research, which has focussed on food sovereignty in New Zealand. Data were gathered through ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews with people who produce, organise and distribute local food. I examine how various conceptions of food sovereignty are being enacted in a, small coastal town in rural New Zealand. This article argues that despite the general absence of the term ‘food sovereignty ’in this community, many practices, foci, and values associated with the global food sovereignty campaign resonate with local food providers, including the significance placed on indigenous Māori values. This is indicative of food sovereignty as a spontaneous grass-roots movement that springs forth from the needs of a community, rather than being imposed from the top-down.
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Department of Anthropology, School of Social Science, University of Aberdeen
A Naturalist Abroad in The Museum of Ontology: Philippe Descola’s Beyond Nature and Culture
Philippe Descola is a self-confessed naturalist. Yet in his book Beyond Nature and Culture, he presents naturalism as just one of four possible ontologies that – for different peoples in different periods – have underwritten human thought and practice. The others are animism, totemism and analogism. In this article I explore some of the paradoxical consequences of his positing naturalism both as a frame for comparative analysis and as one of the terms enframed by it. These have to do with the logic of the ontological four-fold, the conversion of inference into schemas of tacit knowledge, the division between psychological and linguistic constructions of the self, alternative senses of interiority and physicality, the dichotomies between humanity as condition and as species, and between mind and nature, and the proper use of the concepts of production and transmission. I conclude by imagining what would happen if animism, rather than naturalism, were taken as a starting point for comparative understanding. Then life, growth and movement, rather than figuring as the exterior emanations of a world of being, would be restored to immanence in a world of becoming.
Anthropology, Collège de France, Paris
Biolatry: A Surrender of Understanding (Response to Ingold's A Naturalist Abroad in the Museum of Ontology)
Department of Anthropology, School of Social Science, University of Aberdeen
Rejoinder to Descola’s Biolatry: A Surrender of Understanding