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Infrastructures of Value: Uniqueness and Genericness in Agri-Food Chains [Food Network]
Christof Lammer (Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt)
Andre Thiemann (Riga Stradiņš University)
Edward Fischer (Vanderbilt University)
Network affiliated Panels
Time zone:
Tuesday 21 July, 11:00-12:45, 14:00-15:45

Short abstract:

Value has often been discussed with examples from agriculture. On this old terrain, this panel opens new views on valuation through the lens of infrastructure. This directs attention to material creations of uniqueness and genericness and challenges persistent binaries in economic anthropology.

Long abstract:

Much has been written about value, and its source has been hotly debated. In this panel we attempt to open new views on valuation practices through the lens of infrastructure. This allows us to connect partitioned anthropological approaches that focus either on production (Marxian), exchange (substantivist), or consumption (Simmel-inspired). We deploy the new lens - 'infrastructures of value' - on old terrain: Value has often been discussed by scholars with examples taken from agriculture. Land was thought to be 'the source of all wealth' by physiocrats like Henry George. A vineyard with 'special properties' was used by Karl Marx to explain 'monopoly price'. Fine wine was also taken up by Lucien Karpik in the 21st century to understand 'economics of singularities,' thereby re-introducing the binary between unique and generic. This persistent binary relates to often claimed ruptures, differences and splits in economic anthropology: artisan versus industrial production, gift versus commodity exchange, capitalism versus socialism, civil society versus state, community versus market. The lens of infrastructure challenges these dichotomies by directing attention to practices of creating (and destroying) both uniqueness and genericness of agricultural matter (e.g. land, yeasts, organic rice, natural wine, berries, olive oil, quality coffee). We welcome contributions that examine how infrastructures broadly defined (ranging from transportation to information and financial infrastructures, from wires, pipes and bottles to labels and people) shape valuation processes in agri-food chains. We thus turn attention to the irreducible materiality of valuation as food, people and ideas move through space and time.