REINVENTING TRANSPARENCY

in Ethnologia Europaea
Author:
Alexander Koensler Queen’s University Belfast a.koensler@qub.ac.uk

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In an increasing number of realms in everyday life, informal personal relations of trust are being replaced by a constraining formalization of standardization and certification implemented in the name of transparency. Examining the repercussions of this process for small-scale farmers in Italy, this article offers an understanding of ordinary experiences with transparency and explores attempts to resist it. Based on ethnographic research with a neorural activist network that opposes official food-certifications, the article describes ambiguities in ingenious attempts to reinvent procedures to attest the quality and safety of “genuine” food products in more inclusive terms. Restoring the primacy of trust and solidarity, these cases illustrate how a different type of transparency can contribute to realizing a humanistic potential that is nevertheless not free of contradictions.

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