“Green Halal”: Multiple, Translocal, and Enacted through Encounters (AvH)
The halal food market is booming worldwide. This development has been largely celebrated by multi- and transnational food industries, yet observed with concern by an increasing number of Muslims, including religious authorities, intellectuals, activists, as well as halal food producers and consumers in many places worldwide. The unease is not only about “halal” being transformed into a signifier for “big business”, but also about environmental and social problems related to a significant part of big food industries producing “in the name of God”. Unsustainable deforestation, land grabs, environmental pollution, increased CO2 emissions, high waste production as well as labour exploitation and the forced displacement of people are some aspects which, from Islamic perspectives, have been considered contrary to Islamic values. Along with these concerns, there is an increasing demand for more just and sustainable relations in halal food systems as well as a growing number of initiatives and projects identifying with “green”, “sustainable”, “ethical” or “tayyib” halal food networks in many different places of the world. This project seeks to analyse the rise and workings of such initiatives, which I here subsume in a preliminary manner under the term “green halal”. While the few existing studies on this topic have examined specific initiatives at singular sites, I argue that there is a bigger picture to “green halal”. This is best approached through a translocal research perspective, shedding light on “green halal’s” multiplicity and the ways it has been enacted through translocal encounters and entanglements of Islam, diverse economies and movements for environmental and social justice. With this research, I aim to contribute to the growing literature on alternative food networks and their innovations which work towards the transformation of unjust food systems. Through the focus on Islam, this project addresses a research gap, as the role religions (can) play in this context has long been overlooked.