Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2020

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Consumers today seek guidance on how to decipher where their food comes from. As a result of this demand, food certifications have materialized in stores across the globe. Walking through oneճ local grocery store, one is bombarded with certifications that range from ҭade inӠto organic to kosher. Research on forms of food certifications have emphasized the process of making these certifications legible to consumers in markets abroad, overlooking the impact of local concerns in building certifications. This study aims to determine the impact of local cultural foodways on certification schemes meant for global markets. Building on existing work in the anthropology of foodways it asks: how do certifiers, through their daily work, create a project that combines local commitments with the global circulation of foods?This ethnographic study concerns the cultural formations that result from daily work life. The research is based on fieldwork in Milan, Italy, where there is a nascent halal certification industry, which is greatly influenced by the made in Italy certification milieu. Participant-observation in two food certifications: Halal Italia and Food Italy, reveal that forms of institutional oversight of food production systems are the result of a particular knowledge, which is erased in the label itself, yet it is a fundamental part of the process. It is in this tension between a food material as packageable and culturally particular that certifiers not only implement a suite of tools, or devices, but they also create systems that are capable of being checked.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

John R. Bowen

Committee Members

Elizabeth Krause, Rebecca Lester, Michael Sherburg, Glenn Stone,