Performing and counterperforming the organic food markets in East Asia: ahimsa, scientific knowledges and faith groups

Authors: Chi-Mao Wang*, Fu Jen Catholic University, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Rural Geography
Keywords: organic foods, economisation, marketisation, religiosity, East Asia
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Inspired by Japanese faith groups, organic foods have gained popularity in Taiwan and Japan over the past two decades. The rapid expansion of organic food production, for some critical food researchers, has demonstrated the penetration of capitalism. Other analysts have heralded organic farming as sustainable farming practices. This “conventionalisation” debate, I argue, tends to treat the organic market as unquestioned, stabilised, and universalised artefacts. Less attention has been paid to such questions as, “how do alternative food markets come into being, stabilise, or crush?” Inspired by the social studies of economisation and marketisation (SSEM) approach, this paper urges scholars to move beyond the conventionalisation debate and draws attention to the organic food market-making practices. While SSEM thinking conceptualises the market as a socio-technical assemblage and focuses more attention on the market design and maintenance, I propose that more emphasis needs to be placed on the performation struggles, which highlights the agencies of material objects and “economics in the wild”. By drawing attention to the market performation and struggles, this paper argues that organic food market-making is a heterogeneous assemblage, in which all non-human and human actants, such as religious/scientific knowledge, believers, pesticide, climate, and so on, have capacities to stabilise or jeopardise the market assemblage. This paper deepens the knowledge of the geographies of marketisation in a global-relational context and expands the understanding of religiosity in the context of modernity.

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