As organic food becomes more widely available, great faith is placed on the seal or logo that certifies organic status. This article treats the mark of certification as a starting rather than an end point, critically reviewing literature from diverse national and regional contexts. Exploring questions concerning the extent to which organic certification assists or undermines the goal of ecological sustainability, abets the advance of large-scale agricultural capital, and supports the livelihood of smallholder farmers, the article considers the theoretical foundations, methodologies and modes of inquiry that have guided studies of organic agriculture and certification. It brings this research into conversation with literatures on audit cultures, quality, and with ongoing nature-culture debates. Through critical review of the literature and the author's extensive fieldwork with organic smallholders in northern India, the article suggests possible directions in which the literature may be expanded and advanced.
A Review of Organic Certification
Shaila Seshia Galvin
Addressing Inequality and Neoliberalism
Teresa Marie Mares and Alison Hope Alkon
In this article, we bring together academic literature tracing contemporary social movements centered on food, unpacking the discourses of local food, community food security, food justice, and food sovereignty. This body of literature transcends national borders and draws on a rich genealogy of studies on environmental justice, the intersections of race, class, and gender, and sustainable agro-food systems. Scholars have emphasized two key issues that persist within these movements: inequalities related to race and class that shape the production, distribution, and consumption of food, and the neoliberal constraints of market-based solutions to problems in the food system. This article claims that food movements in the United States would be strengthened through reframing their work within a paradigm of food sovereignty, an approach that would emphasize the production of local alternatives, but also enable a dismantling of the policies that ensure the dominance of the corporate food regime. The article concludes by offering a critical analysis of future research directions for scholars who are committed to understanding and strengthening more democratic and sustainable food systems.
A New Rights Framework for Food and Nature?
Food sovereignty, as a critical alternative to the concept of food security, is broadly defined as the right of local peoples to control their own food systems, including markets, ecological resources, food cultures, and production modes. This article reviews the origins of the concept of food sovereignty and its theoretical and methodological development as an alternative approach to food security, building on a growing interdisciplinary literature on food sovereignty in the social and agroecological sciences. Specific elements of food sovereignty examined include food regimes, rights-based and citizenship approaches to food and food sovereignty, and the substantive concerns of advocates for this alternative paradigm, including a new trade regime, agrarian reform, a shift to agroecological production practices, attention to gender relations and equity, and the protection of intellectual and indigenous property rights. The article concludes with an evaluation of community-based perspectives and suggestions for future research on food sovereignty.
An Appraisal of International Perspectives and Implications for the South African Industrial Biofuels Strategy
The global rush toward a biofueled future (and subsequent apprehension concerning unintended consequences) has met with powerful and wide-ranging critique. Bolstered by globally increasing food prices peaking in 2008, food insecurity has become a central concern when considering pursuing biofuels. Arguments in the wider literature propose a number of perspectives with which to evaluate the biofuels-food security nexus. In South Africa, however, the debate is largely configured around maize-for-ethanol and polarized between two antagonistic camps. A host of agricultural lobbies and industrial interests argue in support of biofuels while some politicians, civil society, and NGOs argue against it. Both groups draw their arguments from various domains of the food security discourse in support of their cause. This article considers the merits of these opposing arguments in relation to wider perspectives in the literature, in many cases highlighting non-holistic assumptions made by the opposing claimants. This article seeks to rekindle a waning dialogue and provide a more robust outline of the major concerns that need to be addressed when considering biofuels production from a food security perspective. Only then can South Africa expect to weigh up accurately the value of pursuing biofuels production.
Public Debates about Technological Modifi cation of Food
Jennifer B. Rogers-Brown, Christine Shearer and Barbara Herr Harthorn
Technological modifications of food are being marketed as novel products that will enhance consumer choice and nutritional value. A recent manifestation is nanotechnology, entering the global food chain through food production, pesticides, vitamins, and food packaging. This article presents a detailed literature review on risk and benefit perceptions of technological developments for food and agriculture, including our own research from US deliberative workshops on nanotechnologies. The article suggests that many of the public concerns discussed in the literature on biotechnology in food are being raised in qualitative and quantitative studies on nanotechnologies for food: although nanotechnologies are generally perceived to be beneficial, many people express particular uneasiness about nanotechnological modifications of food. The article argues that these concerns represent material examples of unresolved social issues involving technologies and the food industry, including questions about the benefits of nanotechnology for food, and the heightened values attached to food as a cultural domain.
Kathleen Lowrey, Eben Kirksey, Julie Velásquez Runk, Jessica O'Reilly, Melissa Checker, Juliana Essen, Rebecca Mari Meuninck, Jason Roberts, Yu Huang, James H. McDonald, Wendy R. Townsend, Robert Fletcher, Megan Tracy and E.N. Anderson
BLASER, Mario, Storytelling Globalization from the Chaco and Beyond
HALVERSON, Anders, An Entirely Synthetic Fish: How Rainbow Trout Beguiled America and Overran the World
HECKLER, Serena, Landscape, Process, and Power: Re-Evaluating Traditional Environmental Knowledge
HELMREICH, Stefan, Alien Ocean: Anthropological Voyages in Microbial Seas
HOLIFIELD, Ryan, Michael PORTER, and Gordon WALKER, eds., Spaces of Environmental Justice
LANSING, J. Stephen, Perfect Order: Recognizing Complexity in Bali
LYON, Sarah, and Mark MOBERG, eds., Fair Trade and Social Justice: Global Ethnographies
MARSH, Kevin R., Drawing Lines in the Forest: Creating Wilderness in the Pacific Northwest
MUSCOLINO, Micah S., Fishing Wars and Environmental Change in Late Imperial and Modern China
PERRAMOND, Eric P., Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico: Private Revolutions
RINGHOFER, Lisa, Fishing, Foraging and Farming in the Bolivian Amazon: On a Local Society in Transition
SCHELHAS, John, and Max J. PFEFFER, Saving Forests, Protecting People? Environmental Conservation in Central America
TRUBEK, Amy B., The Taste of Place: A Cultural Journey into Terroir
VAYDA, Andrew P., Explaining Human Actions and Environmental Changes
In order for nature/society scholars to understand the dynamics of environmental appropriation, commercialization, and privatization, we must attend to the production of the environmental science that enables them. Case studies from anthropology, geography, history of science, science and technology studies, and sociology demonstrate that the neoliberal forces whose application we study and contest are also changing the production of environmental knowledge claims both inside and outside the university. Neoliberalism's core epistemological claim about the market's superiority as information processor has made restructuring the university a surprisingly central project. Further, because knowledge has become a key site of capital accumulation, the transformative reach of neoliberal science regimes extends outside the university into the various forms of extramural science, such as citizen science, crowdsourcing, indigenous knowledge, and local knowledge. Neoliberal science regimes' impacts on these forms of extramural science are strikingly similar, and quite different from the most common consequences within academia.
Courtney Carothers and Catherine Chambers
This article draws on directed ethnographic research and a review of literature to explore how the commodification of fishing rights discursively and materially remakes human-marine relationships across diverse regions. It traces the history of dominant economic theories that promote the privatization of fishing access for maximizing potential pro ts. It describes more recent discursive trends that link the ecological health of the world's oceans and their fisheries to widespread privatization. Together, these economic and environmental discourses have enrolled a broad set of increasingly vocal and powerful privatization proponents. The article provides specific examples of how nature-society relationships among people, oceans, and sh are remade as privatization policies take root in fishery systems. We conclude with an overview of several strategies of resistance. Across the world there is evidence of alternative discourses, economic logics, and cultures of fishing resistant to privatization processes, the assumptions that underlie them, and the social transitions they often generate.
The Promise and Pitfalls of Ecotourism as a Manifold Capitalist Fix
Robert Fletcher and Katja Neves
This article reviews an interdisciplinary literature exploring the relationship between tourism and capitalism focused on ecotourism in particular. One of this literature's most salient features is to highlight ecotourism's function in employing capitalist mechanisms to address problems of capitalist development itself by attempting to resolve a series of contradictions intrinsic to the accumulation process, including: economic stagnation due to overaccumulation (time/space x); growing inequality and social unrest (social x); limitations on capital accumulation resulting from ecological degradation (environmental x); a widespread sense of alienation between humans and nonhuman natures; and a loss of “enchantment“ due to capitalist rationalization. Hence, widespread advocacy of ecotourism as a “panacea“ for diverse social and environmental ills can be interpreted as an implicit endorsement of its potential as a manifold capitalist x as well. The article concludes by outlining a number of possible directions for future research suggested by this review.
Building on Existing Trends in Knowledge Production to Study the Copresence of Ecotourism and Extraction
Ecotourism is primarily perceived and studied as an alternative to resource extraction, even though increasingly the two coexist side by side in a nexus. This article investigates how such instances of copresence are marginalized in literatures about ecotourism and extraction, constituting a “blind spot“ in academic literature. An extensive literature review focuses on the existing knowledge trends and paradigms in the production of knowledge about ecotourism and extraction, and analyzes whether they contribute to the “blind spot“ or can be mobilized by the nexus perspective. Finally, the article briefly outlines two methodological approaches for studying ecotourism and extraction as a nexus.