2nd EASA Award for a Postgraduate Student Paper in the Anthropology of Food

Winner of 2nd EASA Award for a Postgraduate Student Paper - Floramante S.J. Ponce We are very happy to announce the winner of the 2nd EASA Award for a Postgraduate Student Paper in the Anthropology of Food: 'Eating (With) Us’: Commensalism, Parasitism, and Transformations in Food Consumption in a Lao Hydropower Resettlement by Floramante S.J. Ponce.

In recent years, many scholars of Lao hydropower development and resettlement have critically exposed the structural forms of violence and injustice engendered by state-controlled relocation schemes and coercive population management. Though some of them have mentioned that constructing dams can induce food insecurity primarily due to changes in agro-production and fishery systems, they have been relatively reticent about various strategies of resettled villagers for dealing with food insecurity before and after the relocation. Drawing on ethnographic data from a hydropower resettlement site in north-western Laos and using ‘eating’ (kin) as both lens and subject of inquiry, this paper has bridged such gap by scrutinizing how the relocation has transformed the villagers’ food consumption (i.e., the quantity and quality of food they consumed) and some commensal practices/collective strategies for alleviating hunger. The paper has also investigated not only their connotations and sociocultural meanings of ‘food’/’eating,’ but also the connections of such local context to their current experiences and confrontations of hunger. As a result of their new ‘eating’ experiences, many villagers saw a bleak future in the resettlement. This ethnographic analysis highlighting the everyday experiences of ‘eating’ and relocation contributes to recent studies on Lao resettlement and food anthropology.

Floramante S.J. Ponce is a PhD Candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle/Saale, Germany. He has been a member of the Research Group ‘Electric Statemaking in the Greater Mekong Subregion’ since September 2017, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Kirsten Endres. From April 2018 until September 2019, Ponce conducted in-depth ethnographic fieldwork in a hydropower resettled village in Bokeo Province, north-western Laos. His dissertation project primarily focuses on the modes of (dis)connections and (im)mobilities engendered by hydro-ELECTRIC infrastructures. He studied BS Sociology in the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (lone summa cum laude and batch valedictorian, 2012); MA Sociology in the Ateneo de Manila University (2015); and MA Sociology and Social Anthropology in Central European University, Budapest, Hungary (with distinction, 2017).

Floramante S.J. Ponce’s award winning paper was published open access in March 2022: ‘Eating with the People’: How a Chinese Hydropower Project Changed Food Experiences in a Lao Community. Social Anthropology/Anthropologie Sociale 30(1): 1-23.