Fermented Landscapes

Bubbling, burbling landscapes of ferment: Considering how fermentation drives socio-environmental transformation around the world

Fermentation is a state of agitation or turbulent change or development, which is often associated with the process wherein an agent causes an organic substance to break down into simpler substances. While microorganisms like yeast or bacteria are the usual actors in the biochemical process of fermentation, the (micro)organisms and (f)actors involved in the processes of symbolic (social, cultural, political) fermentation are less clear. This book outlines a comprehensive conceptualization of fermented landscapes, an overarching research agenda that examines the excitement, unrest, and agitation evident across shifting physical-environmental and socio-cultural landscapes, especially as related to the production, distribution, and consumption of fermented products. Using a variety of methods, studies of fermented landscapes seek to better understand transformations within material and symbolic landscapes at a variety of scales. Examples of research falling under this umbrella includes: perspectives of wine, beer, and cider geographies as well as the geography of other fermented products; whether alcoholic or not; the use of “local” materials in craft beverages as a function of (neo)localism and sustainability; and the non-human and/or figurative elements of fermentation. These cases investigating the environmental, economic, and sociocultural implications of fermentation in both expected and unexpected places and ways are used to home in on the complex study of rural-urban exchanges or metabolisms over time and space – an increasingly relevant endeavor in socially and environmentally challenged contexts, whether global or local.

Keywords: fermentation; craft; beer, wine, cider; landscape; political ecology; rural-urban interface