Indications of Geography? Constructions of Place, Boundaries, and Authenticity in the UK Protected Food Names System..
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Geographers have investigated agri-foods, commodity chains, 'alternative' food networks, 'local' production, and multicultural cuisine. However, the relationship between food, place, boundaries, environmental determinism, and authenticity remains under-researched. This thesis seeks to redress this deficiency with a detailed study of the construction of the Protected Food Names (PFN) scheme in the UK. PFNs are a type of Intellectual Property (IP) and form the European component of the international Geographical Indications (GI) system. These place-based foods and drinks originate from defined and bounded areas and are produced in supposedly traditional ways. Their manufacturers consider them unreplicable outside the protected zone. This qualitative investigation of three PFNs – Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, Stilton Cheese, and Grimsby Traditional Smoked Fish – critiques the ways in which ideas of place, boundaries, and authenticity are invoked by producers. The thesis interrogates how manufacturers understand place and its boundedness, employ supposedly 'objective' historical evidence, and apply the ambiguous notion of authenticity to stabilise and sustain local practices. The study also examines the strategies deployed to generate consumer interest in an era where uniqueness is an important marker of value. This work thus introduces a different conceptual angle to accounts of the PFN structure which primarily privilege legal or economistic assessments. It aims instead to deconstruct the geographical concepts on which the PFN edifice is based. The ultimate aim is to draw attention to the vagaries inherent in the increasingly hegemonic GI model. This research connects with geographical debates about the construction of place and boundaries, the social production of authenticity, the role of selective historical 'facts' in the development of narratives about place, and the 'selling' of location and its products. It therefore provides a lens through which the foundations and everyday operation of the GI system can be profitably analysed.
AuthorsRippon, Matthew James Julian
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