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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24708

Title: The Morality of Cheese: A Paradox of Defensive Localism in a Transnational Cultural Economy
Authors: MacDonald, Kenneth Iain
Keywords: Cheese
Cultural economy
food studies
Slow Food
alternative agro-food networks
ethical consumption
Issue Date: 6-Aug-2010
Abstract: This paper uses the example of Slow Food International (SFI) and its promotion of artisanal cheese to examine how scale is produced around the defense of particular social relations of production. I argue that attempts by SFI to naturalize discursive configurations of rural/local/traditional express a particular politics tied to the anxiety of ‘losing’ imagined rural communities. However, SFI attempts to ‘save’ these communities are grounded not in planning or policy but in a kind of entrepreneurialism that locates the preferred mode of defense in the ‘natural morality’ of products like cheese, which is associated with the conditions of locale, the presence of communities willing and able to reproduce locale, and the historical processes of production acted out by those communities. This strategy is a paradox for Slow Food in that efforts to communicate the ‘goodness’ of local product rely on spatially extensive markets and memberships that support a defensive localism through consumption of what they read as (morally) good products. In its apparent defense of localism, Slow Food brings ‘the local’ into being and, much like the disciplinary writing of Geographical Indications (e.g., AOC), simultaneously ‘displaces’ it by situating the social relations of production in translocal circuits of regulation and consumption. It is reterritorializing the local in the space of its own regulatory operations, in the spaces of the institutions it is affiliated with, in its own entrepreneurial agency, and ultimately in the ideological domain of its loose network of parochial, yet transnational, members.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24708
Appears in Collections:Geography

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