Soy and Agro-Food Change (SoyChange): Austria from a Multi-Level Perspective, 1870s-2020s
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Commodities in History: Theoretical Reflections and Empirical Case Studies
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
The rise of soy in globalization in the 20th century is breathtaking: soy has evolved from a Far Eastern curiosity in the late 19th century to one of the world's most profitable crops in the early 21st century. This is the starting point of the project, which is situated in the international field of (historical) agro-food studies. The project examines transitions of agro-food regimes through the lens of a particular commodity - soy - over a long period of time - the last 150 years - with a focus on a selected country - Austria - in an inter- and transnational context. In recent decades, Austria has established itself as both a node in the global soy trade and a place of European soy production. Before soy gained a foothold in the agro-food regime, it emerged in various niches as a solution to problems in agriculture and nutrition at different times, most notably during the World Wars and the Great Depression. The central research question is how knowledge transfers, commodity chains, and institutional arrangements interacted in the rise of soy from niche to mainstream in Austria since the 1870s. Methodologically, the project relies on actor-network, commodity-chain, and discourse analyses. It examines periods when established regimes came under pressure and opened windows of opportunity for niche innovation that either succeeded or failed. Through transnational linkages and international comparisons, Austria's case is situated in its global setting. The project also builds bridges from the past to the future: the protein- and fat-rich soybean offers a plant-based alternative to animal-based diets and could play an important role in the sustainable transformation of food production and consumption.