Geographic Indications: Culinary Heritage as Cultural Property

As a type of intellectual property rights, geographical indications (GI) are a contentious issue in several trade negotiations within different law systems (WTO, WIPO, EU). Also the recent proposal of the European Commission “for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on agricultural product quality schemes” with a special session dedicated to GI does not seem to solve the legitimation problems intrinsic within the GI regime.

The subproject of the DFG Research Unit on Cultural Property adopts the lens of both agricultural economics and of cultural anthropology to analyse the rationale of GI in order to improve its understanding and derive recommendations for enhancing transparency and improving the governance of the GI regime.

The starting point of the analysis is a conceptual framework which juxtaposes two different legitimating theories, i.e., the “social conservation theory” and the “social constituting theory”. The former focuses on the “heritage setting” of a region which forms its territorial culture. The rationale of the European legal system on GI is based on this theory as it acknowledges the genius loci of a region by including it into a legal frame. A contrasting approach is given by the “social constituting theory” which premises that the set of traditions is part of a dynamic process which boosts awareness of culinary traditions from the moment of its legal recognition. Different actors take an active role (NGO, farmers’ consortia, etc.) in this constituting process.

For an illustration of the model, four PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) cheese specialties in Italy and Germany are analysed using an inter- and transdisciplinary approach. At the supply side, we aim at identifying the strategies undertaken by different actors to create/revitalize regional culinary heritage while, at the same time, not neglecting the discourses and practices of actors excluded by these processes. On the demand side, the study will shed light on the reception of the GI regime both at a local and at an international level focusing on the symbolic assets of GI products.

All in all, we expect to identify the circumstances in which the core elements of both theories unfold. This could contribute to the instauration of a more realistic legitimation of the GI regime.

Sub-Project: Geographic Indications: Culinary Heritage as CP

Leave a Reply