Human-Fish Relations: Interspecies Diet and Disease around a Hydropower Project in Northeast Thailand

Dr. Visisya Pinthongvijaykul3

3Chandrakasem Rajabhat University , Bangkok, Thailand

This paper explores human-fish relations in the context of environmental transformation owing to dam and water management projects. It pays attention to the multispecies rendezvous as a node in which to identify crucial issues surrounding environment, food security and health. Recent work in parasitology, geography and political ecology has demonstrated the implications dams have of increasing the possibility of humans contracting infectious diseases through fish, of harming ecosystem services in terms of fish nutritional benefits, and of causing adverse effects on aquaculture. However, these studies reproduce anthropocentrism, the paradigm that places human values at the center of understanding the world. Fish are seen in terms of human production and consumption. They are perceived as food to eat, hosts of zoonotic diseases, and indices of ecological conditions, subject to be watched and controlled. Recently, there have been debates in environmental humanities that have sought to decenter human exceptionalism. They observe the emergent and dynamic constitution of “worlding”—the ontology of heterogenous relational practices in which humans and nonhumans cocreate. I ask whether it is possible to see fish, among other nonhumans, as companion species in order to understand a novel constitution of the way we perceive environment and health.


Visisya Pinthongvijayakul received his PhD in Anthropology from the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, Canberra. His research interests include the practice of spirit mediums, human-animal relations, environment, and health in Northeast Thailand.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

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