The Anthropology of Food and Food Sovereignty in Southeast Asia
Open lecture with Terese Gagnon, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen
In this talk, I give an overview of the anthropology of food in Southeast Asia, highlighting key themes. From there I move to a discussion of food sovereignty and seed sovereignty in the region, including challenges posed by agrarian change and forced migration. I then provide a specific example of these issues from my own research. In this research, I illustrate the ways in which the process of becoming refugees in Mae La refugee camp in Thailand severs Indigenous seed sovereignty and inter-generational agricultural memory for forcibly displaced Karen people. This severing, I argue, occurs in the camp in large part through agricultural forgetting: the process by which linkages between people and plants are broken generationally.
Terese Gagnon is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies and the Department of Political Science at the University of Copenhagen in "The Politics of Climate and Sustainability in Asia.” She holds a PhD in Anthropology from Syracuse University. Her research examines Karen food, seed, and political sovereignty across homelands and diaspora. She is co-editor of the book Moveable Gardens: Itineraries and Sanctuaries of Memory from the University of Arizona Press (2021). Her writing has appeared in Ethnography, Anthropology and Humanism, Ethnobiology Letters, Asian Journal of Peacebuilding and other journals and volumes. She incorporates creative forms, including ethnographic poetry, in her scholarly work.