Fatih Tatari: Pasturing Dairy Technosciences in Northeastern Turkey

This talk explores dairy infrastructures in rural Kars, a northeastern border province of Turkey. Based on an 18-month ethnographic research on dairy farming and dairy sciences of artisanal cheeses, I conceptualize dairy infrastructures as the material web of relations that makes dairy production possible through sociotechnical practices of obtaining milk in pastures and crafting it into cheeses through artisanal and technoscientific practices. Food safety regulations, grounded in Pasteurian technosciences, have promoted the industrialization of dairy infrastructures at the expense of “unsafe” dairy production in pastures. I focus on an unlikely collaboration between scientists, dairy farmers, and cheesemakers in designing and implementing the Kars Kaşar Cheese Geographical Indication, which has altered dairy infrastructures in rural Kars over the past decade through what I call “pasturing” practices. Through scrutinizing how pastures appear in the milk, curd, and cheeses that are crafted in rural dairies and studied in laboratories, I argue that practices of pasturing challenge industrial dairy infrastructures by prioritizing pasture-milk that connects pastures and dairies, as well as by calibrating dairy craft and technosciences to everyday circumstances in pastures. In this talk, I concentrate on the ways in which scientists incorporate production conditions in rural dairies, traditional craft, and cheesemakers’ concerns into their scientific research design. I suggest that the collaboration between cheesemakers and scientists entailed “pasture-cheese diplomacy”, compelling scientists to question the conventional approaches in dairy science research on traditional cheeses. This diplomacy also paved the way for new technoscientific interventions that would ensure the crafting of pastures into local cheeses.