Category Archives: AAA 2017 Washington DC

Size Matters: How Semiotics is Making History in the World of Wine

Kerri Lesh
University of Nevada, Reno

A “historic milestone” for the Spanish wine-making region of Rioja has been making headlines in the wine world. A new labeling strategy was approved that will shape the way producers from Rioja can market their wine after the 2017 harvest. This decision illustrates the efforts that have been made on behalf of the Asociación de Bodegas de Rioja Alavesa (ABRA) to differentiate the wines of the Basque zone of Rioja Alavesa, and will now apply to all producers in the Rioja wine-making Designation of Origen (DOC).

On August 11, the decision was made by the Regulatory Board of Rioja DOC to allow for wines to be labeled by “zona”(zone) and “villa”(town or municipality), as well as “viñedos singulares” or single vineyard wine. This ruling comes after more than forty bodegas had been working to develop a new Designation of Origin (DO), called Viñedos de Álava or, in Basque, Arabako Mahastiak. The latest decision has, then, been made to halt the efforts to create the Alavesa label, and to allow the DOC of Rioja to follow through with its new agreement.

The Vice President of ABRA, Carlos Fernández, commented on the Dastatu Rioja Alavesa blog that, “This began many years ago with the demand for a font size to acknowledge the distinct subzones of the Rioja DOC.” Up until now, the permitted subzones, now simply called “zones,” had to be displayed using a smaller font size than that of the larger “Rioja” DOC indication. The three zones–Alta, Alavesa, and Baja (the latter recently changed to Oriental or “Eastern”)–can now be listed in a font equal in size to that of the larger designation of “Rioja.”

rioja lobel

Bottle label from Ostatu displaying the previous font specifications

Bittor Oroz, the Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Fishing, and Food Policy for the Basque Government, expands on the importance of making “place” more visible by referencing the concept of terroir, as stated in Noticias de Alava:

“People look for the origin of the wine they consume, they want to link it to the terroir…they are looking for something more than just the quality of the product, but rather the story behind the wine, the histories that lie behind a glass, and being able to focus in on a particular bodega, on the places where it is cultivated and produced.  Because of that, it is important to identify those spaces and give them their due value.”

The importance of this new agreement highlights the challenges of selling wine within various markets, in such a way whereby identity and traceability are not lost. This particular use of semiotics is in part driven by the producers’ and consumers’ desire for a unique, traceable, and well-marketed wine.

A portion of my research in the Basque Country entails the observation of how semiotics and the concept of terroir are implemented in marketing local gastronomic products.  Alongside Anne Lally, I have co-organized and chaired the panel titled Taste and Terroir as Anthropological Matter. This panel will be featured at the annual American Anthropological Association meeting, to be held this November in Washington D.C.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, comments or concerns at kerri.lesh@gmail.com.

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Of Bodily & Anthropological Matters: Self-Improvement in the Age of Wellness (AAA CFP)

In search of papers for wellness panel at AAA. Tentative abstract below.

If interested contact Lindsay.Bell@oswego.edu

Of Bodily and Anthropological Matters: Self-Improvement in the Age of Wellness

In recent years, social scientists from the global north have come out against what is constituted as ‘the wellness industry’. This term brings together diverse bodily practices from yoga and meditation, to fitness and running, to colonics, green juice and taking a vitamin regimen. The global wellness industry is said to gross 3.7 trillion dollars per year. This remarkable trend in spending, we argue, should garner more curiosity as to what modes of relating to self/society these practices engender in diverse locales. What sociologist William Davies dubs “The Happiness Industry” (Verso, 2015) is often analyzed in the abstract and dismissed as the privatization of aspirations for the good life by Big Capital. Instead of understanding these trends in general, this panel investigates the particularities of self-improvement in a variety of geopolitical contexts. While leftist academics André Spicer and Carl Cederström understand these bodily habits as symptoms of a global “Wellness Syndrome” (Polity, 2015) laden with individualizing undertones, our case studies reveal otherwise. Collectively, the papers ask us to reconsider self-improvement through anthropological lenses. How might self-improvement actions and aspirations in an age of wellness act as windows into larger questions about the nature of human experience, embodied political economy, the relationship between the self and the social, and the entanglement of language, body and mind? Through situated analyses of communities engaged in various ideas of what it means to be ‘well’, these papers describe the lifeworlds made possible by specific improvement pursuits.

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AAA CFP Last Call // Sedimentation: Extraction, Soil and Memory

Sedimentation: Extraction, Soil and Memory

(seeking papers re: Agriculture, Food Commodities)

Co-organizers:

Serena Stein, PhD Candidate, Princeton University

Andrew Ofstehage, PhD Candidate, UNC-Chapel Hill

 

Land is often mobilized discursively as wastelands (Voyles, 2015) or zones of hidden potential and promise for capitalist development (Yeh, 2013) to justify frontier expansions worldwide. Land, landscapes and soil are also increasingly recognized as powerful actors in agrarian narratives and encounters, as agentive materials that help create their own history and futures (Kawa, 2016). This panel centers upon the encounters, memories, and afterlives of soil, putting forward the analytic of ‘sedimentation’ to recognize, reconsider and unsettle the dust upon which we tread in so-called development contexts of extraction. In particular, sedimentation, as a social analytic, aims to rethink processes and potential shapes of accumulation in extractive spaces, in terms of strata (tempo, order, verticality); accretion (formation, connection, growth); and provenience (origins, indigeneity, and future archaeologies) of resources taken from the earth, as well as the (im)material objects, spaces, imaginaries, and discursive remains.  Presenters will draw on multi-species and actor/non-actor encounters (Haraway, 2007; Ingold, 2000; Raffles, 2002; Tsing, 2015), materiality of things (Stoler, 2016; Bennett 2010), and memories and afterlives of land and soil encounters (Gordillo, 2014) to examine the placeness, temporalities and relationalities of encounters in and through land, with attention to disparate histories, political projects, and livelihoods in the Global South that help to constitute the material and narrative lives of soil.

Submit paper abstracts to Serena (serenas@princeton.edu) or Andrew (aofste@live.unc.edu) no later than 12 pm (ES) Thursday, April 13th.

 

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The School Lunch Debate: Ethnographic Perspectives

AAA Panel CFP
Unknown-2The School Lunch Debate:
Ethnographic Perspectives on Education, Nutrition, and Culture


From parents to politicians, health care providers to business executives, anthropologists and many others have various reasons to ask: How does school food shape children- their health, education, and general well-being? The politics behind school food programs is rife with tensions between neoliberal approaches to government that seek to diminish public assistance programs and those who believe that all humans have a right to food and schools should be one of the first places of assistance. Beyond the physical body, school food also has the potential to play a critical role in education–shaping children’s engagement with the natural world, different cultures, and the school curriculum.

This panel seeks to explore the different ways in which anthropologists are looking at how school food programs throughout the globe shape children’s lives. It also examines the ways in which government policies about nutrition and education play out in the cafeteria. From the children’s behavior in the lunchroom and classroom to the preparation of food in school kitchens and what kids bring to school in lunch bags, this panel will present new perspectives on food consumed at schools.

We invite papers that use ethnographic methods to shed new light on current debates about school food. Whether focused on the nutritional or educational outcomes or on the sourcing and sustainability of school food, we encourage participants that focus on understudied areas of school food—for example, taste education, cultural diversity, food in school curriculum, the intersection of biopolitics and nutrition, policy outcomes, allergies, eating disorders, the role of agro-food industries in feeding children, and the work of chefs. 

We are looking for 2-3 more papers for this session. Please send your abstract to Rachel Black by Wednesday, April 12, if you are interested in participating in this panel.

 

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AAA CFP: Famines and Food Crises in Africa

For the upcoming 2017 AAA meetings in Washington DC. Contact the organizers listed below if you are interested in participating.

Famines and Food Crises in Africa: Causes, Consequences and Remediation: How Anthropologists Are Responding

Anita Spring- U Florida (aspring@ufl.edu) and Sol Katz-U Penn (skatz2001@aol.com) organizers

Famines and food crises in Africa and some Middle Eastern countries bordering the Red Sea are created and complicated by war, political unrest, climate change, continued population growth, and economic factors. A chaotic decline in food resources for at least 20 million people extends east to west from Nigeria to South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, mostly due to political unrest and instability, with these four countries having the greatest severity in Africa and the world according to the UN. Other climate-related famine countries are in the Horn of Africa and include Sudan and Ethiopia, while political unrest affects food production and distribution in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (central Africa) and drought conditions obtain in the southern and eastern Africa (Botswana, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe), where prolonged and serious drought strains the economic and social capacity to cope with and develop new solutions in these recurring drought scenarios. Further complicating relief in many of these countries are the reduced expenditures from multilateral agencies of the UN and bilateral assistance from the US, UK, EU, and Japan. By contrast, China has stepped up to provide public- and private-sector funding and development assistance, but the magnitude, methods and results need to be studied to ascertain the impacts. This session examines from an anthropological perspective the causes, consequences, and their efforts for remedial and action plans developed by participating multilateral, bilateral and NGO agencies aimed at mitigating food and agriculture disasters, and for promulgating new solutions both political and technological. A major problem currently facing famine-relief programs is the uncertainty of UN funding, particularly affecting the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Program (WFP) and related emergency resources due in part to the proposed US under-funding for UN programs. This round table aims to summarize issues and remedies using the data from several perspectives. Questions to be addressed in this session include, but are not limited to the following issues: (1) How are anthropologists conceptualizing, identifying, and mitigating food-system disasters, using their the long-term experiences in studying previous and recurrent calamities? (2) How do current political mishandling of agricultural production and distribution affect outcomes versus what happens if “more enlightened” production and distribution methods, as well as better marketing strategies and financial instruments are introduced? (3) Are any of these likely to mitigate the food crises, and if so how? This round table also considers new and innovative farm-managed methods such as conservation agriculture and carbon sequestration in soils, alternative food sources and better food storage, new financial instruments and index-insurance for farmers, and producer-friendly government policies in terms of production and distribution. The need for greater economic understanding of the food supply is a crucial and missing link between the planning which is often done by Big Ag economics, and the need for “Anthronomics”, that uses the insights and questions of anthropology and the methods of economics to address new solutions for food system problems.

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AAA CFP: Circulations, Logics, and Logistics of Food

We are looking for 1 more paper for the following session. Please send abstracts to Micah M. Trapp, mmtrapp@memphis.edu, by Tuesday Apr. 11th.

Circulations, Logics, and Logistics of Food

In The Mushroom at the End of the World, Anna Tsing describes capitalism as a translation machine: mushrooms transpire and are plucked from the forest, generating a variety of gift and commodity forms. Asking what it is that can possibly live in the ruins of capitalism, Tsing’s meditative account reveals the complex and transformative potential of the mushroom as an invasive, magical spore and multifarious source of meaning and value. The mushroom demands that we follow where it is that our food resources go, but also the generative life along these pathways to understand the emergence of conflicted and conflicting forms of meaning and value. In this session we consider how food circulates. We treat circulation broadly as transformational force and evoke different theoretical understandings of the ways food moves to explore how meanings and value accumulate and dissipate in our food systems.

Following classic studies of political economy, circulation tracks processes from production to consumption. Situated within theories of a moral economy, circulations articulate social relationships and values. As a semiotic endeavor, the circulation of food transpires through imagery and representations. Circulation is also an embodied phenomenon, foods circulate through and nourish the human body, while pesticides invade and seep through the pores of farmworkers. Nested within discursive politics, “healthy foods” circulate bodily ideals and discrimination, while advocates of food access aim to remedy the unequal circulations of food.

Papers will seek to unearth and articulate underlying connections between food logics—the social frameworks we use to explain, motivate, and propel food-based action—and food logistics, the systems, connections, and exchanges required to sustain human nourishment. How does one’s logic of farming, for example, intersect with the logistics of operating a viable business? How do the logistics of subsidized food supply chains refract upon the logics of humanitarianism or social welfare? Distribution, attendant inequalities, and the hope for equality lie at the heart of our inquiries as we consider how food logics and logistics shift from reciprocal links and fluid movements to strangleholds and breaking points.

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CFP on Waste Materialities & Meaning

AAA 2017 CFP

Session Title: Waste Materialities & Meaning: Anthropological Engagements with Reuse, Repair and Care

 

Organizers:

Cindy Isenhour, University of Maine

Anna Bohlin, University of Gothenburg

Staffan Appelgren, University of Gothenburg

 

 

The recent international focus on circular economies – which purport to reimagine waste as a resource rather than a market externality – has engaged scholars from multiple disciplines in the exploration of reuse as a tool for climate mitigation, reduced materials use and resource conservation.  This is certainly a positive development given the impact of contemporary production-consumption systems on humans and non-humans alike.  At the same time, anthropological engagements with so-called “waste” (garbage, rubbish, discards) raise questions about the novelty of the circular economy concept. Anthropology has already illustrated the deeply relational, situated and cultural entanglements implied in the determination of “resource,” “value,” and “waste”.  From ethnographies featuring innovative reuse among resource-strapped communities (Nguyen 2016) and garbage pickers on the margins of Brazilian society (Millar 2008) to sanitary workers in New York City (Nagle 2014), or among connoisseurs of thrift shops and vintage goods (Isenhour 2012), anthropology has long demonstrated the not-so-novel concept of informal circular economies in action.  Perhaps more importantly, anthropological engagements have helped to illustrate the materiality and generative capacity of “abandoned things” as they fundamentally shape social relations, our collective sense of memory and heritage, as well as human and non-human nature(Reno 2015). What is perhaps new about today’s circular economy imaginaries is that they signal the growing commodification and formalization of waste and reuse practices, raising important questions about the potential gentrification of reuse, and potential exclusion, as well as the shifting relationality of reuse to capitalist markets given projections of the “end of cheap nature” (Schindler and Demaria 2017, Moore 2015).   This panel seeks to both critically and productively engage with long-standing and emergent efforts to “save waste” through repair, care and reuse.  We seek contributions that engage theory and ethnographic detail to explore a wide variety of questions and themes with relevance to the meaning and materiality of reuse including, but not limited to, the following:

 

  • How waste and residual value are variously and situationally determined
  • How discarded goods or “abandoned things” circulate in space and across scales
  • How posthumanist perspectives can provide novel ways of conceptualizing human-object relations in contexts of reuse
  • The generative capacity of reuse to shape/reshape livelihoods, waste infrastructures and materials markets
  • Everyday practices of maintenance, repair and care – as processes of reuse
  • The potential of reuse markets and practices to bring transformative change (or variously, another individualist and niche market-based movement)

 

If interested, please send an abstract to Cindy Isenhour (cynthia.isenhour@maine.edu) by Friday, April 7th.  We’ll get back to you no later than Monday, April 10th so that we can submit the panel prior to the AAA deadline of Friday, April 14th.

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