What is the role of quality in contemporary capitalism? How is a product as ordinary as a bag of tea judged for its quality? In her innovative study, Sarah Besky addresses these questions by going inside an Indian auction house where experts taste and appraise mass-market black tea, one of the world’s most recognized commodities. Pairing rich historical data with ethnographic research among agronomists, professional tea tasters and traders, and tea plantation workers, Besky shows how the meaning of quality has been subjected to nearly constant experimentation and debate throughout the history of the tea industry. Working across fields of political economy, science and technology studies, and sensory ethnography, Tasting Qualities argues for an approach to quality that sees it not as a final destination for economic, imperial, or post-imperial projects but as an opening for those projects.
Series Spotlight – Atelier: Ethnographic Inquiry in the Twenty-First Century with Kevin Lewis O’Neill
This post is part of our #RaisingOurVoices2020 blog series. Learn more at our American Anthropological Association virtual exhibit. For this year’s virtual AAA conference, series editor Kevin Lewis O’Neill joined us to talk …Read More >