Introducing Dr. Max Spiegelberg, a new FEAST Project Researcher: -Study-Work-Study-Work- (Maximilian Spiegelberg, Project Researcher)


In 2013 I returned to university as a student again following 5 years of work in development cooperation and education for sustainable development. After my thirst for knowledge had brought me already to the far east of Germany (B.Sc. at Brandenburg Technical Uni Cottbus), to the middle-east for my Master thesis’ field research, my decision fell for Japan’s top-notch university in ancient Kyoto for the PhD. With my background in Environmental Management and Peacebuilding, I chose to research with the Lab of Sustainable Rural Development the emerging concept Water-Energy-Food Nexus. The WEF-Nexus focuses on the connections and dynamics between activities around water, energy and food. It asks for crossing boundaries in mind and matter, connecting the dots for a larger picture and uncover alternative pathways of development and transitioning. These all together have been the recurring themes of my personal journey so far in many ways and are also engraved in the FEAST project’s core.

At the time of my first year into the PhD research, I connected the first time with the Chikyuken through their WEF-Nexus project and got to know the Mount Makiling landscape at Los Banos/Philippines. I returned there for my field research and looked at the livelihood and lifeworld connections between upland farmers and downstream fishermen through a landscape WEF-Nexus lense. In line with my journey and similar to FEAST project’s Working Group 1, I looked at the production of food, their destination and the local household consumption. Among others, the research revealed that the effects of the upland activities onto the water quality downstream had been documented, that the local market place is a common destination to buy food products among all inhabitants, but not necessarily for selling the own products and that char coal remains a preferred energy source for preparing certain meals. Overall the PhD research could show, that within the WEF-Nexus debates, the crucial role of smallholder food producers, fisheries and forestry, as well as aspects of rurality, and of implementing the concept in real-life development, management and governance situations are yet underrepresented.

Starting out with curiosity about renewable energies during my early steps, then shifting towards water issues in the middle phase, my constant interest for food-related topics finally moved to the first row and prospers in the nurturing environment of FEAST project’s knowledgeable members. Having closed the next chapter of formal studies successfully, I’ll be supporting FEAST project’s Working Group’s 1 in their food-shedding efforts and WG 3 on conceptual questions around Agroecology, Food-Sovereignty and Re-Peasantization now. Personally I will contribute to the project by keeping connecting dots to uncover transition pathways in the lifeworlds of bee-keeping in urban and peri-urban contexts in Japan.

Research Area Map in the Philippines ( Max Spiegelberg)

Loca water, energy and food (Max Spiegelberg)