Tag Archives: AAA 2017

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: 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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Panel Proposal, AAA 2017: Interdisciplinary Work in Food and Nutrition

This is an abstract for a panel for the AAA 2017 meetings in DC. Click here to see the CFP for the conference from SAFN and here for more details on the conference. Contact information and deadlines for this proposal are below.

Building the Big Tent: Anthropology and Interdisciplinary Work in Food and Nutrition

Systems thinking and interdisciplinary work are essential to facing challenges in contemporary food environments that are complex and globalized. Issues such as the nutrition transition and sustainable food systems are difficult to comprehend or address using a single lens or discipline. National initiatives such as Healthy People 2020, and international efforts by the World Health Organization urge greater scrutiny of the social determinants of health to target health conditions, like chronic disease, that have a long chain of causality. These are often rooted in historic trends such as colonization, urbanization, and globalization, with deep political and cultural implications. Biomedical or socio-cultural approaches prove inadequate on their own to establishing lasting solutions. Integrative research in nutrition uses systems thinking to connect research about human nutrition and the experience of food across biological, socio-cultural, economic, and political dimensions. Transdisciplinary and integrative research that transcend the politics of siloed academic research and scholarship and build the big tent are critical to crafting effective responses to intractable global health and nutrition issues.

Despite academic recognition of the importance of interdisciplinary work, there is limited scholarship and deliberation about best practices. Even while interdisciplinary programs emerge, there is little discourse on how to include such approaches within courses, across curricula, and in institutions. There is a need for more research and sharing of best practices in interdisciplinary work and integrative research that help us move forward. This session will focus on the process and nature of interdisciplinary work and integrative approaches to research in community food and nutrition. We encourage submissions that address, but are not limited to, any of the following:

  • The role of anthropology in interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, and/or inter-professional work in community food and nutrition
  • Models of ecological and systems thinking, including best practices and methods using integrative research approaches
  • Stories of difficulties faced and lessons learned: bridging distances, developing common language and culture
  • Examples of emerging projects and questions posed
  • Reflections on being an interdisciplinary scholar
  • Developing courses and curriculum in higher education settings
  • Using transdisciplinary platforms to inform and influence policies, programs, and interventions

Please submit a title and 250 word abstract by March 28, 2017 to Kimberly E. Johnson (kjohnson4@wcupa.edu ) and Susan Johnston (Sjohnston@wcupa.edu).

 

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