Cook Barrineau: Exporting Heritage and Highlighting Politics: Extra Virgin Olive Oil Production in Jordan

Grants and Contracts Details


Olive production has been central to cultural heritage, place identity, and regional economic activity across Jordan for thousands of years. In order to sustain cultivation and bring revenue to rural areas, the private and public sectors encourage olive oil exports via social development initiatives such as NGOs that help train producers (Shdiefat, El-Habbab, and Sha’er 2007). However producing for export subjects farmers to international standards that require changes to production methods and to the taste of the olive oil. Most of the academic work on standards and certifications has focused on power along a single commodity chain (Gereffi 1999; Hughes and Reimer 2004) or the social and economic impacts of certifications like Fair Trade (Mutersbaugh 2002; Fridell 2007; Lyon 2010). However, few studies have compared how farmers engage with these different capacity-building projects that develop as part of political assemblages, within and beyond states, shaping the governance of spaces and people and the related place-based identities. This gap inhibits our understanding of how producing traditional local crops for export affects the ways in which producers relate to the land that they cultivate. By interrogating the ways in which farmers experience and adjust to international standards and the institutions that enforce them, my findings will contribute to ongoing efforts to understand how different implementations of standards and certifications affect the fundamental ways in which spaces are territorialized, regulated, and experienced. This project contributes to political ecology scholarship that has reconceptualized agricultural commodity production as a geopolitical process governed and enacted through everyday life (Mullaney 2014; Bowen 2015). The objective of this particular project is to examine how the production of olive oil for export shapes how people discuss and experience state power, international (geo)politics, and place-based identities in everyday life. This objective will be reached through an investigation of the following research question: how do farmers experience and adjust to the parameters and networks of export-oriented olive oil production, specifically in terms of territory, governance, and place-based identities? The research findings will expand our understanding of how efforts such as fair trade certifications and other production regimes develop as part of political assemblages within and beyond states, shaping territorial regulation, social relations, and other politics of place.
Effective start/end date7/1/168/31/17


  • Society of Woman Geographers: $9,915.00


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