Keynote lecture

Transnational co-production of food safety in Asia

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Reiher

Japanologie, Freie Universität Berlin


Food is produced, traded and consumed across national borders. Transnational supply chains connect producers with consumers in (and beyond) Asia, but also contribute to the spread of food risks over great distances. In order to handle food risks, food safety governance by states, international organizations and nonstate actors seeks to influence food production and processing (in other countries) through food safety standards. But food safety issues such as genetically modified organisms (GMOs), pesticides or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) have also become prominent issues around which consumer advocates and farmers in Asia are mobilizing to protest food safety regulations and trade agreements. This presentation will analyze the transnational (co)production of knowledge about food safety in Asia from two perspectives: 1) the establishment, implementation, management of and debates about food safety standards in supply chains between Japan and countries in Southeast and East Asia and 2) transnational protest and advocacy for safe food in Asia in the context of negotiations of preferential trade agreements in Japan. With a focus on conceptual as well as methodological challenges of transnational research on food safety in Asia, I will discuss how research on transnational mobilities of food, knowledge, people and contested concepts like food safety can contribute to a better understanding of power relations in Asia.

Short Bio

Cornelia Reiher is professor of Japanese Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and vice director of the Graduate School of East Asian Studies. Her main research interests include rural Japan, food studies, globalization and science and technology studies. Her recent publications include a special issue on fieldwork in Japan (2018), book chapters on transnational protest movement(s) in Asia (2019), and urban-rural migration in Japan (2020) and the methods handbook Studying Japan: Handbook of research designs, fieldwork and methods (2020, co-edited with Nora Kottmann).