Oral Presentation Session - Cosponsored Status Awarded
Sponsored by: Culture and Agriculture
Cosponsored by: Society for the Anthropology of Food and Nutrition
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists
Primary Theme: Climate Change
Secondary Theme: Borders
Quinoa farmers in Peru struggle to symbolically link quinoa to the Andes at the same time as the EU pushes Latin American countries to adopt intellectual property policies that work to reconceptualize their socionatural resources as “territories” legible for investment. In South Africa, the indigenous rooibos plant is transgressing the borders of its “proper” home as delimited by a geographic indication while in Scandinavia, Sámi peoples are developing a multi-state geographic indication for smoked reindeer meat as reindeer migration patterns shift as a result of climate change. In Southern Mexico, an airborne fungus complicates community territorial projects by stripping bare aging coffee trees while in Sicily, a geographic indication for olive oil seeks to fix authenticity in time and in space but raises questions about who and what deserves protection.
These cases raise critical questions about how territorial projects work in the context of increased economic, ecological, and social precarity (Tsing 2015). This is one of a two-panel series designed to critically question how territory and territorial practices adapt in an era of profound flux in which entire socio-natural systems are moving in space or changing beyond recognition at the hands of climate change, human and non-human migratory flows are shifting course and speed, and global connections of various kinds are intensifying or disintegrating. At the same time, territorial projects that seek to limit, contain, and manage this fluidity and complexity with the end goals of control and legibility abound (Besky and Padwe 2016). How, these panels ask, does territory and territoriality work amidst movement and change—and how can thinking about diverse cases through a lens of territoriality help us see otherwise obscured dynamics? These panels propose new anthropologies of territory using ethnographic situations in which precarity, movement, and materiality are foregrounded. By considering efforts to fix—in the sense of locate, link to, arrest, but perhaps also in the sense of to make right—dynamic processes of movement through territorial practices, the series seeks to offer new approaches to territory and territoriality.
This panel focuses in on territory-making practices in food systems. It considers the seemingly contradictory but potentially dialectical dynamic of increased rates of environmental (and otherwise) change and intensifying efforts to fix food products onto place through geographic indications, collective brands, and other configurations of space and capital that invoke territory. It examines how the actors involved, including unruly plants and mobile bodies, imagine and materialize resistance, resilience, and adaptation to static mappings of space and culture. While territory has traditionally been read through themes of state power and territorial autonomy, this panel expands the discussion to include non-state and more-than-human actors involved in producing, and at the same time complicating, the legibility and commodification of the territorial project of place-based foods. By examining dynamics of legibility, surveillance, classification, border-making, and boundary work, it seeks to reinvigorate the concept of territory as a theoretical tool to understand contemporary configurations of space and capital in global agriculture and food systems.