An article analysing rhetoric about breastfeeding in Indonesia, jointly written by Belinda Rina Spagnoletti, Linda Rae Bennett, Michele Kermode (who are all based at the Nossal Institute, University of Melbourne, Australia) and Siswanto Agus Wilopo (Gadhaj Mada University, Indonesia), has been awarded the Wang Gungwu Prize for the best article published in Asian Studies Review in 2018.
The President of the ASAA, Professor Edward Aspinall, announced the winner of the annual prize, which was established by the ASAA in 2013 to recognise and encourage scholarly excellence in Asian Studies.
This extremely well researched article combines interview-based field work with mothers and culturally nuanced analysis of new laws and associated advertising promoting moralising messages about breastfeeding in Indonesia. On one side, global health advocates warn against the surging use of formula in early childhood. On the other, there are risks in regulating breastfeeding as a practice, through laws such as the 2012 National Health Law, which advocates exclusive breastfeeding. The main risk is that proponents of behavioural change will safeguard the rights of children without considering the rights of the mothers. The authors argue that breastfeeding promotion messages need to be more inclusive and take into account the multiple challenges new mothers face. The authors’ findings have relevance for policy work on maternal health in Indonesia and around the world. The judges were particularly pleased to award this prize to a PhD student (the first author) who has jointly published her research with her supervisory team.
“Moralising rhetoric and imperfect realities: Breastfeeding promotions and the experiences of recently delivered mothers in urban Yogyakarta, Indonesia” appeared in Volume 42, Issue 1 (March 2018) of Asian Studies Review, and is available free-of-charge on the journal’s website. The article can also be accessed via the ASAA website, along with articles by past winners of the Prize.
The Wang Gungwu Prize is named in honour of Professor Wang Gungwu, the distinguished historian who has contributed enormously to scholarship on Asia not only in Australia but also in Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore. Professor Wang was also a key person behind the formation of the ASAA in 1976 and has served as its president. The Prize is valued at $1,500.
The ASAA executive would like to also thank members of the judging committee, Professors Vera Mackie and Luigi Tomba, and ASAA Vice President Katharine McGregor.