CfP: ASEAS 8(1): The Sovereignty of Food and Health


The upcoming issue 8(1) of the Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies (ASEAS) will focus on the nexus of food and health in South-East Asia. Throughout the last decades, agricultural transformations have turned the region from a food-insecure one into one characterized by high export sales in staple foods as well as investments in modern food systems. Despite the region’s achievements in food security, it is increasingly confronted with new challenges regarding the quality and the social distribution of foods.


Urbanization, industrialization, and economic integration consolidate global food regimes, reinforcing rural-urban divides and social disparities in and among South-East Asian societies. Interlinked with the global food crises, these trends expose certain societal groups to malnutrition and related health concerns. Mobile livelihoods as well as the ‘traveling’ of products and concepts in the region interrelate with the formation of consumer trends and practices. Industrial production and food engineering raise health concerns while influencing risk perceptions. At the same time, the capability to access healthy, ‘modern’ as well as adequate food becomes as much a political and geographical issue as an attribute of lifestyle, social status, and identity.


Despite being a success story in terms of food security, the structural conditions of food production, distribution, and marketing as well as the lived experience of consumption raise critical questions about the actual sovereignty of producers and consumers over food and bodily health along the food chain. These address the repercussions of the regional food regime on individual and collective rights as well as practices to produce and access healthy foods, to make eating choices, voice political claims, and evoke gendered social identities with regard to the food-health nexus.


This issue invites scholars from various disciplines to engage with the complex relationship of food and health through the lens of sovereignty. We would like to encourage conceptual or empirically based contributions that tackle and, ideally, cut across the following thematic blocs. Intersectional and cross-disciplinary approaches are encouraged.


The political economy of food and health:

  • Policies and trade regulations on (alternative) agriculture, nutrition, and health (e.g. patenting of medical plants, global certification mechanisms, safety standards) and related social movements
  • Body politics in science, government policies, and media (e.g. dieting, health industries)
  • Industrial food and health risks (e.g. use of antibiotics)

Concepts, lifestyles, and social practices of health and eating

  • Food sovereignty, health citizenship, and health literacy
  • Perceptions and discourses of food, health, and body (e.g. food anxieties)
  • Health, food, and special diets as translocal identity and belief systems (e.g. practices of vegetarian and other diets)
  • Eating cultures (e.g. global cuisine, convenient products, child feeding)

Deadline for Submissions

  • Extended Deadline: 1 October 2014

Further Details

Guest editors 

Judith Ehlert

Dr. Judith Ehlert is a sociologist by training and holds a postdoc position in development sociology at the Department of Development Studies (IE), University of Vienna. Her empirically based PhD thesis focused on environmental knowledge and agrarian change in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. Her current research project deals with the body politics of food and changing eating cultures in Vietnam. Before joining IE, Judith worked as a senior researcher in an interdisciplinary project on water resources management in the Mekong Delta at the Center for Development Research (ZEF), University of Bonn.

Christiane Voßemer

Christiane Voßemer is a university assistant (predoc) in development sociology at the Department of Development Studies (IE), University of Vienna. Her research interests focus on migration and health systems in the context of development processes in South-East Asia, especially in Myanmar. She has worked as a consultant to development projects in the fields of health and migration, in particular regarding Malawi, where she conducted her first empirical research project. Her PhD research deals with reproductive healthcare and the current transformations of the border regime of healthcare at the Thai-Myanmar border.



Teaser Photo CC-BY Frank Kovalchek