Topic: Benefits, challenges, social learning and controversies around Fenalår fra Norge
The regulation and labelling scheme for PDO, PGI and TSG was set up in Norway in 2002, modelled on corresponding systems for GIs in the European Union. The implementation of GI in Norway was demanding, causing local producers, administrators, consultants and others to make a significant and all-round effort to adapt the scheme to Norwegian food culture, and Norwegian food culture to the scheme. This paper probes the theme of this mutual adaptation work, and its consequences. Norway makes up the food cultural context in this study, whereas Fenalår fra Norge (salted, dried and matured leg of lamb and mutton of Norwegian origin) is used as an example of a GI product.
The analysis is based on diverse forms of empirical material, such as document studies of laws, policy documents, etc. and interviews with persons responsible for working out product regulations in producer organizations. Interviews have also been conducted with key informants representing public administrative bodies administering the regulation. The analysis is not dedicated to any specific methodological or theoretical tools but takes inspiration from an adapted set of perspectives to describe and understand the cultural adaptation work of GI schemes and products.
Protecting Fenalår as a GI in Norway and EU is used as a concrete example on dissonances, negotiations and struggles among actors in a multifaceted foodscape, where some block and some enhance transitions. Fenalår is selected as object for analysis because it is one out of two Norwegian products also registered as third country GI-products in EU – making the adaptation work and its consequences even more complex and intriguing. Local and extra-local stakeholders in the qualification process of Fenalår as a GI often have different and conflicting interests and responsibilities. The dynamics of knowing and producing food in such a contested arena is negotiated, adapted and transformed – sometimes in a mutually enhancing and locally beneficial way, and sometimes in more conflictual ways. We analyse the relationships, interconnectedness and agency of niche innovations, local and non-local appropriations, as well regime hegemonies. This opens up for a the theoretical perspective where the evolution of Fenalår as a GI in Norway and EU can be understood as a chain of adaptations and adaptive practices necessary to unite the dynamic ordering of modern global regulations with the food cultural status of traditional local products.
Through our description and understanding of the tensions and local problems of GIs, we identify and develop a typology of constructive and destructive adaptive and transformative practices. This typology can help to support relevant policies to understand and solve current controversies within the GI sector.