Food Sovereignty and the Anthropology of Food

Antropology Forum has recently published a special issue on Food Sovereignty and the Anthropology of Food: Ethnographic Approaches to Policy and Practice.

The articles collected here began as papers at a panel on Food Sovereignty organised  at the annual conference of the Australian Anthropological Society, held at the Australian National University in November 2013. The subtitle ‘local and global solutions to human survival under deteriorating climatic conditions’ stressed the relevance and indeed urgency of anthropological attention to food. While the editors saw this relationship between food policy and practice as a fallow field awaiting urgent anthropological cultivation, similar seeds were being sown across the world at the same moment.

These papers are selected because they contribute to the task of filling this gap by providing anthropologically conceived and ethnographically driven investigations of global and national processes, policies, organisations and discourses as they intersect with the lives of local communities.

The special edition consists of several countries studies, some of them are:

Third World Approach to International Law

The journal of Third World Quarterly has recently published a special issue on the Third World Approach to International Law.

Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL) is a movement encompassing scholars and practitioners of international law and policy who are concerned with issues related to the Global South. The scholarly agendas associated with TWAIL are diverse, but the general theme of its interventions is to unpack and deconstruct the colonial legacies of international law and engage in efforts to decolonise the lived realities of the peoples of the Global South.

In addition to important critical analysis to theoretical fundamentals relevant to the study of the Third World, the special issue also deals with more immediate praxical questions of if, how, and when to deploy international legal argument, whether as sword, shield, or strategy of rupture. The concept is engaged in an open manner, in order to avoid an essentialised Third World identity, but to deconstruct it, so as to allow for a fuller disciplinary engagement with the plural, hybrid, ever-evolving, and contested performance of identity everywhere.

Some of the chapters worth reading are:

Food Systems Governance

How to explain that despite growth in food production, many are still lacking of adequate food? This is a classic question that has been investigated by many leading lights from various disciplines, including the Noble Laureate Amartya Sen in his groundbreaking research in the 1970s. But challenges remain and this is the focus of the new volume edited by Amanda Kennedy and Jonathan Liljeblad from University of New England Australia. The title of this book is Food Systems Governance: Challenges for justice, equality and human rights. Their starting point is law, and what is the role of law to form the pivot around which these issues are addressed in society in the form of food governance mechanisms. Accordingly the chapters in this book address a range of issues in food governance revolving around questions of justice, fairness, equality and human rights.

I am honoured to have been given the opportunity to contribute to this exciting publication. My chapter entitled ‘Transnational Legal Processes of the Right to Food: Lessons Learned from Papua, Indonesia’, discusses whether and how the growing network between transnational actors that advocate the right to food delivers political change, in the sense that they challenge order the power in society. The paper is based on the paper I presented during the Conference under a similar title, held in Beijing China, May 2014.

The Global South

The latest issue of the Third Quarterly is dedicated to examine a phenomenon called: the Global South. This special edition is currently free to download and divided into three themes: Ideas and shifting power relations, International peace and security, Human rights and development. As stated in the introduction, the focus of this volume is about ‘then’ and ‘now’. The nine individual articles contribute towards improving our understanding and bridge-building in different ways – sometimes by making the differences clearer, sometimes by probing how we could conceivably move beyond them, sometimes by calling into question the shibboleths of international cooperation.

Some of the chapters are:

Who owns the right to food?

The journal of Third World Quarterly recently published my article entitled: “Who owns the right to food? Interlegality and competing interests in agricultural modernisation in Papua, Indonesia”.

The  article dicusses the extent to which the competing as well as conjoined interests of actors involved in agricultural modernisation are reconfiguring the right to food. Agricultural modernisation provides such a context to study the interplay between global and local levels and between various legal and normative frameworks, as well as how the right to food is promoted or jeopardised in these interactions. The focus here is twofold: first, it is on existing norms linked to the wider understanding of the right to food; and second, on the diverse interests supported by the state, corporations and civil society organisations, particularly indigenous rights movements.