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Academic Interests

  • Thematical: food, fragility of life, desire, multiplicity, rituals, activism, heterogeneous relationalities, intercultural and interdisciplinary theorisation
  • Regional: Sri Lanka, South and Southeast Asia, Northern Europe

Higher education and employment history

While combining study and work (on an organic farm and in several NGO’s), Wim Van Daele obtained a Master of Social and Cultural Anthropology in 2001 and Postgraduate degree in Cultures and Development Studies in 2005 at the University of Leuven in Belgium. After an additional three years of, sometimes voluntary, work at the University of Leuven and among Belgian and Sri Lankan NGO’s, he embarked on his PhD at the Center Leo Apostel for interdisciplinary studies at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium. During his PhD, Wim studied the ways in which food shapes life throughout its everyday, ritual, medical and political-economic tropes. As such, he gradually noted the multiple entanglements of food with very diverse aspects of life and moved from studying food as a topic towards conceptually developing food as a methodology of social, interdisciplinary and intercultural research. He approaches food as an assemblage of the heterogeneous components of life with which food connects and which it condenses in itself in what becomes an hologram or three dimensional miniature. With this conceptual tool we can explore in novel ways societies and their multiple interrelations that are constantly being reshaped in collaboration with food. During his PhD, as a visiting research student Wim spent alltogether 9 months at SOAS in 2010 and 2012 as well as 6 months at the University of Chicago. During the course of his PhD he transformed it into a joint PhD by way of which he obtained greatest distinction in both Interdisciplinary Studies, at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Comparative Science of Cultures, at Ghent University.

The Postdoctoral Project

As part of the ERC-funded project ‘Overheating: The three crises of globalisation’, Wim’s project ‘The entanglement of food and desire among Sinhalese oscillating across different (local and global) levels’ argues that food offers a specific, pressing, and tangible vehicle with which to study the three crises of globalisation—economic, environmental, and cultural. This is possible given that food is an assemblage of components articulated with these crises at multiple levels, all connected with desire in both creative and destructive forms, leading some to speak of a global food crisis. In Sri Lanka and anywhere else, food is indeed a matter of increasing concern as it is connected and subjected to climate change and other environmental hazards, the monopolisation of food supply by agri-businesses, and a destructive overheating or burning of culturally relational ways of being by way of excessively incited desires (e.g. sorcery attacks motivated by jealousy, capital accumulation, etc.). Given food’s centrality to the desire for sustenance and regeneration of human (ways of) life and interrelations, and the connection of food to these crises that are catalysed by these destructive forms of desire, it carries these issues into the existential, intimate, and visceral domain of relational human being. In sum, as an assembled hologram—three-dimensional miniature—it holographically condenses these crises and thereby turns into a potent matter of concern that offers a taste of the crises and dynamics of globalisation as experienced in the Sri Lankan flesh.




Main Publications

2013. Oscillating between Village and Globe: Articulating Food in Sri Lankan Activism. In Ethnographies of Food Activism: Agency, Democracy and Economy. Eds. Carole Counihan and Valeria Siniscalchi, Bloomsbury (formerly Berg Publishers).


2013. Igniting Food Assemblages in Sri Lanka: Ritual Cooking to Regenerate the World and Interrelations. Contributions to Indian Sociology vol-47/Issue 1/Pp.33-60.


2013. The Political Economy of Desire in Ritual and Activism in   Sri Lanka. International Development Policy: Religion and Development, No. 4/Pp.159-173. Geneva: Graduate Institute Publications, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.


2013. L’économie politique du désir dans le rituel et le militantisme au SriLanka. Revue internationale de politique de développement [Online], 4 Online since 21 March 2013, URL : http://poldev.revues.org/1326 ; DOI : 10.4000/poldev.1326.


2013. 'Cooking' Life: An Anthropologist Blends In with Everyday Sustenance and Relationality in Sri Lanka. Food and Foodways: Explorations in the History and Culture of Human Nourishment. Vol 21/ Issue 1/Pp.66-85.


2013. Fusing Worlds of Coconuts: The Regenerative Practice in Precarious Life-Sustenance and Fragile Relationality in Sri Lanka. The South Asianist. Vol 2/No. 2/ Pp. 97-118.

  • Van Daele, Wim (2017). Food as the Holographic Condensation of Life in Sri Lankan Rituals. Ethnos.  ISSN 0014-1844.  82, s 1- 19 . doi: 10.1080/00141844.2017.1314309
  • Van Daele, Wim (2016). Desiring foods: Cultivating non-attachment to nourishment in Buddhist Sri Lanka. Appetite.  ISSN 0195-6663.  105, s 212- 217 . doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.04.021
  • Van Daele, Wim (2016). Vibrantly entangled in Sri Lanka: food as the polyrhythmic and polyphonic assemblage of life. Foundations of Science.  ISSN 1233-1821.  23(1), s 85- 102 . doi: 10.1007/s10699-016-9509-4
  • Van Daele, Wim (2014). Oscillating Between Village and Globe: Articulating Food in Sri Lankan Activism, In Carole Counihan & Valeria Siniscalchi (ed.),  Food activism: agency, democracy and economy.  Bloomsbury Academic.  ISBN 978-0-85785-833-7.  14.

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  • Van Daele, Wim (2015). The Collaborative Life of Condensing Food in Sri Lankan Ritual Action.
  • Van Daele, Wim (2014). Desiring Foods: Sri Lankan Ways of Becoming. Show summary
  • Van Daele, Wim (2014). Food in the Mix: Vibrating Assemblages of Nourishment in Sri Lanka. Show summary
  • Van Daele, Wim (2014). Food in the Vibrant Mix: Towards a Rhythmanalysis of Nourishing Assemblages in Sri Lanka. Show summary
  • Van Daele, Wim (2014). Food's Central Role in the Achievement of a Good Death in Sri Lanka. Show summary
  • Van Daele, Wim (2014). The Elephant as a Holographic Condensation of Social Change in Sri Lanka. Show summary

View all works in Cristin

Published Jan. 9, 2014 9:08 AM - Last modified Jan. 9, 2014 10:39 AM