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Accepted Paper:

Abandoned olive groves and protected cultivars: the pasts and futures of Sicilian olive oil  
Amanda Hilton (Syracuse University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper considers the uncertainties out of which come a Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) for extra virgin olive oil from Sicily, Italy, and the certainties about food production, value, and meaning that the PGI imagines both locally and on the global market.

Paper long abstract:

In 2016, the EU approved an application from Italy for a PGI designation for extra-virgin olive oil from Sicily, Italy's largest and southernmost region. Geographic indications (GIs) herald the assumedly unique food culture of a particular territorially-defined place, staking the legal claim that only certain people in those places hold the cultural and environmental knowledge necessary to produce that food. In a context rife with uncertainty over the viability of agricultural landscapes given economic pressure, ecological stresses caused by climate change, and migratory flows of people out of the countryside, GIs seek to fix in time and in space what makes certain food products meaningful, and in so doing to push these food products onto a global market—but whether the local meanings of GI foods translate abroad depends on a host of factors, and if this successful translation can bring economic wellbeing and agricultural sustainability at home remains to be seen. By legally defining and protecting a very specific version of a local food product, GIs assert a particular narrative of the past and imagine a future wherein culinary particularism and the free market have saved all of the food traditions worth saving. This paper interrogates the uncertainties of the context out of which the PGI for Sicilian olive oil was born, and whose pasts and futures are deemed worth saving via the PGI's enactment.

Panel P165
Re-inventing European food: pasts and futures of agricultural imaginaries
  Session 1 Thursday 16 August, 2018, -