Remaking place: the social construction of a Geographical Indication for Feni
A range of social movements mobilise around and seek to valorise ‘place-based’ imageries. There is, these movements argue, vitality in place. As anthropologists remind us, people continue to construct some form of boundaries around place, however permeable and transient those boundaries might be. In the context of global agrifood, a diversity of socially generated marks indicating conditions of origin have emerged that seek to speak to a range of moral economies. Within this constellation, Geographical Indication (GI) appears as a remarkable place-based intellectual property which the author appreciates as the juridical reification of a place-based stabilisation of cultural norms. However, rather than idealise GIs, the paper also probes a ‘politics in place’ through a fieldwork-based study of a recently acquired GI for Feni, a liquor distilled from either coconut or cashew apples. Juxtaposing observations of Feni distilling with the specifications that constitute the GI, the paper explains these differences in terms of the local social relations of power. The Goa government aligned itself with the recently established Feni Association, composed mainly of large distillers with bottling operations, to acquire the GI and was successful because of the complicity of the GI Registry office.
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