Att tillaga en region : Den regionala maten i representationer och praktik - exemplet Skärgårdssmak

Sammanfattning: The connection between specific foods and specific places has, over the course of the past decade or so, come to constitute an important instrument in regional development strategies. The objective of this thesis is to study how regions are created and communicated in discourses on regional food and to examine how representations of regions are interpreted, given meaning and materialised in social practice. The thesis strives to understand regional food and regional food projects through a case study of a regional development project entitled ‘Skärgårdssmak’ (A taste of archipelago) in order to examine how and why food is used as an instrument in regional branding and regional development initiatives. ‘Skärgårdssmak’ is a project that has been implemented across the entire Swedish-Finnish archipelago region, including Åland. This is a ‘new’ region that has been defined in the context of the Interreg program for cross-border development within the European Union. The project has the ambition to create and market a regional identity and also to stimulate and develop small-scale business enterprises in the area. This has been approached through regional branding and the place-marketing of foodstuffs produced in the area as well as through the projection of a so-called regional ‘taste’, where associations to nature and authenticity form an integral part.The empirical material has been gained through interviews conducted with representatives from the project administration and with small-scale food producers and restaurant owners operating in the archipelago. Additional empirical material includes; official documents, information documents, marketing material, cookbooks and a television program. In the analysis a discourse of the archipelago’s regional identity is identified and examined. Interviews with entrepreneurs in the archipelago show that representations of the region influence, to at least some respect, the practice of the entrepreneurs and the way in which consumption products can be developed. In the thesis it is argued that the use of the concept of regional food, as is the case with all spatial representations, can be problematic. The use of the concept of ‘taste’ associates the region, as well as the producers and consumers of regional foodstuffs, with an exclusive and excluding regional identity.

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