Author Archives: Ashley Thuthao Keng Dam

Ashley "Thao" Dam is a medical anthropologist, budding ethnobotanist, and final year PhD candidate in Ecogastronomy, Education, and Society at Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in Pollenzo, Italy. Thao's doctoral research is focused on Khmer folk food-medicine use and consumption during times of ecological instability in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia -- for all times else, digital food and food media. Thao writes, draws, photographs and speaks about food on under the name @ThaoEatWorld.
A woman with medium length hair leans over a large machine with a screen to lick it.

Netlicks and Chill: Digitalization and Food Politics in Taste the TV (TTTV) Technology

Digital technologies have increasingly penetrated aspects of daily routines and practices — this has only been exacerbated by the conditions put forth by the COVID-19 pandemic. Technologies mediate experiences, thereby generating new forms of engagement with the world (Ihde, 1990). One arena of such digitalization and increased technological entanglement is food; over the last decades, the processes of procuring, growing, preparing, and eating foodstuffs have been inundated with new technologies (Lewis, 2018). From cooking robots and “smart” kitchen appliances to virtual online communities devoted to sharing food-related content and discussing food politics, interactions with food have transformed considerably. These transformations warrant additional inquiries into how food and surrounding processes of tasting and eating may manifest differently in accordance with such technologically-intertwined conditions. (read more...)

A beige slide with a dark blue platypus on the left reads "COVID-19: Views from the Field" A Platypus roundtable with Ashley ThuthaoKeng Dam, Caitlyn Dye, Sonia Qadir, Rebekah Ciribassi, Kristina Jaconsen

Roundtable: “COVID-19: Views from the Field”

We’re wrapping up our five-part series, “COVID-19: Views from the Field,” with a pre-recorded roundtable. This roundtable brought our authors into conversation with each other, across continents and timezones, to discuss conducting—or not conducting—fieldwork in places not understood as COVID-19 “hotspots.” Check out the video here, and follow the links below to read the whole series, also available in the language of each field site. (read more...)

Colorful jars of Khmer Traditional Medicine wine

Cambodia in the time of COVID-19: Conceptions, perceptions, and approaches to the novel coronavirus

Editor’s note: This post is the first in our five-part series “COVID-19: Views from the Field.” Click here to read an introduction written by series organizer Rebekah Ciribassi. When I waved goodbye to my partner at Torino Caselle Airport in northern Italy on February 18th, 2020, I had no idea what was about to happen—people don’t tend to predict the eves of global pandemics. There were no particularly ominous signs to note, and I was heavily focused on the logistics of carrying out my PhD fieldwork in Cambodia.  My research focuses on seasonal variations of the use and consumption of traditional Khmer medicinal plants during maternity by rural women living in Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. My aim is to identify medicinal plants used during different stages of pregnancy, how these medicinal plants are prepared as (or paired with) foods, and what the perceived effects of these traditional food-medicines have on treating symptoms associated with different stages of maternity. In addition to this, I’m also interested in the contemporary role and trajectory of Traditional Khmer Medicine (TKM) within rural community settings and how such traditional knowledge is shared. The overarching goal of this research was to support botanical work being done by the National Herbarium of Cambodia at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, nutrition and dietary research by the NGO Helen Keller International, as well as expand the inter-disciplinary cultural research by the Center for Khmer Studies in my role as a senior research fellow. (read more...)