Producing food sovereignty: Reclaiming healthy, tasty and local foodways in Asia

Panel in the 7th Annual International ADI Conference on Food, Feeding and Eating In and Out of Asia

Convenors: Saee Haldule, Daniel Münster, Julia Poerting, Heidelberg University

Mainstream debates about the future of feeding and eating in Asia tend to frame the issue through the lens of food security. Operating at the scale of the nation-state, food security is entrenched in geopolitics and focuses uni-dimensionally on the quantitative availability of calories for populations. Its programmes have been criticized for reducing diets to the fulfillment of prescribed daily nutritional needs, for embracing global agribusiness and techno fixes, as well as undermining the political ecology of Asian smallholder farming. In contrast, food sovereignty movements have developed a counterframe that highlights the way food is produced and circulated in regional contexts along with its extra-economic values regarding health, taste and heritage. Instead of the state development machine supplying industrially produced grain to the poor, food sovereignty focuses on increasing the possibilities of the masses to produce their own food, keeping in mind traditional food habits and indigenous crops.

In this panel we invite ethnographic and theoretical engagements with the tension between food security and food sovereignty unfolding across Asia. Questions of interest to us would be:

  • How do food sovereignty contestations unfold across urban and rural settings?
  • How does the transition from food security to food sovereignty translate into a transformation of diets, food and feeding?
  • How does food sovereignty mobilize imagined heritage(s), histories and futures?
  • How does food sovereignty articulate with class-based politics and social hierarchies?
  • What is the relationship of the urban middle class hype of local food, farmers' markets and organic diets with the farmer-based core of the food sovereignty movement?


  • Saee Haldule, PhD Candidate, "Agrarian Alternatives", Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, Heidelberg University 
  • Daniel Münster, Leader of the "Agrarian Alternatives: Agrarian Crisis, Global Concerns and the Contested Agro-Ecological Futures in South Asia" Research Group, Cluster of Excellence "Asia and Europe in a Global Context", Heidelberg University
  • Julia Poerting, PhD Candidate, "Agrarian Alternatives", Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context”, Heidelberg University