Dangerous eating in Asia

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

Convenors: Mikkel Bunkenborg and Ayo Wahlberg, University of Copenhagen

Eating is crucial to the production of individual and social wellbeing and the significance of eating well is particularly evident in parts of Asia where so-called traditional medical systems blur the boundaries between medicine and foods. But where food is regarded as a key to well-being, it also poses a significant danger: In recent decades, rapid urbanization across Asia has transformed eating into a hazardous, risky and uncertain affair. As processed foods and sedentary working lives become the norm and as fast food chains establish themselves firmly, lifestyle diseases proliferate in Asia’s many cities. In addition, industrialized food production chains are associated with numerous incidents of counterfeiting, adulteration, contamination, and outbreaks.

This panel seeks to explore the many dangerous forms of ingestion which people in Asia increasingly must negotiate in their daily lives. How have individuals and families adjusted their alimentary habits, not only in urban cities but also rural parts of Asia? How does the ingestion of potentially dangerous substances affect social relations? In which ways are the dangers of eating reasoned about, accounted for, and socially organized?


  • Mikkel Bunkenborg, Assistant professor, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen
  • Ayo Wahlberg, Associate professor, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen