Accepted paper:

"You can taste it in the wine": making minerality matter in post-socialist Hungary


June Brawner (University of Georgia)
Jennifer Thompson (University of Georgia)
Aaron Thompson (University of Georgia)

Paper short abstract:

This paper accounts for terroir, the "taste of place", as scientifically/socially co-produced (Jasanoff 2004). Using ethnography and soil sampling in a historic Hungarian wine region, we examine post-socialist terroir-crafting through connections between minerality, ideological legacies, and taste.

Paper long abstract:

Terroir, or "the taste of place" (Trubek 2008), is the unique assemblage of environmental and cultural factors that define a particular geography, essentialized in the food products of that region: a simultaneously scientific and social mechanism of exclusive quality. Empirical accounts of terroir are debated in environmental sciences (e.g. Gladstones 2011), yet the elusive terroir is given legal expression through policies such as Geographical Indications (GIs) (Josling 2006). GIs define and regulate the origins of "localized" foods, protecting them as intellectual property (Gangjee 2013), represented by labels.

Using the STS idiom of co-production (Jasanoff 2004), we account for the meeting of material landscapes and ideologies in the production of post-socialist terroir wines using a case study from the second oldest GI: the Tokaj wine region in Hungary (1737). We examine the (re)creation and implications of terroir post-1989, particularly, the role of soil science in historic and contemporary demarcations of its exclusive geography. Following a village-level initiative to (re)brand this wine region, which hinges on distinction through soil minerality, we ask: How is soil science (and its methodologies) deployed in the reification of terroir, making ideologies of difference material features of landscapes? This question is answered using a mixed methods approach involving participatory soil sampling and ethnography/participant-observation. We propose this case study as exemplary of the co-production of social and scientific realms (Jasanoff 2004): the translation of terroir in post-socialist geographies presents soil science as a socio-political enterprise. Co-authored paper: June Brawner, Aaron Thompson, Miguel Cabrera, and Jennifer Jo Thompson.

panel E10
Geographies of knowledge production and legacy of postsocialist technoscience