My primary work is in the political ecology of food and agriculture in Postsocialist Europe with particular interest in policy narratives, science and technology studies, food and intellectual property law, historical ecology, and sensuous ethnography.
My current dissertation research involves tracing the multi-scalar manifestations of the European Union’s regulation of place-based, or terroir foods, which are grown in legally protected areas and protected worldwide as intellectual property (e.g., Champagne, Vidalia Onions.) This took me to the Tokaj region of Hungary, home of the oldest classified vineyards (and second oldest protected region of origin). Understanding these policies as historical and cultural artifacts that draw from both scientific and local/experiential/sensory knowledges, I interface legal narratives of place-based, unique tastes with narratives of producers to explore how the “taste of place” is [re]created from the ground up, in short: What can terroir-crafting tell us about human-ecological relationships? What does it tell us about taste and the role of affect in biodiversity conservation? What can terroir policies tell us about the political life of the senses?
More broadly, I am interested in the anthropology of the senses, science and technology studies, alternative food systems, and historical ecology. I have always been compelled by the ways in which food—as both social and ecological material—can have powerfully subversive qualities: as assertion of identity, as a weapon, or as a historical, cultural, and geographical claim. Following this, I am intrigued by the framing of taste (the affective/experiential side of food) as a political-ecological act.
I have also recently completed an MS in Crop and Soil sciences, for which I completed additional fieldwork in Tokaj, Hungary that included participant-led soil sampling. I then put soils data in conversation with interview/discursive data to present terroir and its signifier, minerality, as exemplary of the co-production (Jasanoff 2004) of the social and scientific worlds (Brawner et al., in review April 2018).
Before my PhD studies, I studied music (voice) and taught K-8 English and music in Hungary for two years. I am always seeking to merge the creative and the academic in new ways.
MS, Crop and Soil Sciences | The University of Georgia | Athens, GA, USA | 2018
International Interdisciplinary Summer School: Political Ecology with Bruno Latour | Forum Scientarium | Tübingen, Germany | Summer 2017
MA, Sociology and Social Anthropology | Central European University | Budapest, Hungary, 2011
BS, Anthropology | Kennesaw State University | Kennesaw, Georgia, USA | 2010
BA, Music | Kennesaw State University | Kennesaw, Georgia, USA | 2009
Honors & Awards
- Outstanding Alumna 2017, Kennesaw State University
- 3MT/Three Minute Thesis, Runner-Up 2016
- Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Award, The University of Georgia, Spring 2014
Professional Service & Positions Held
- Research Assistant under Dr. Jennifer Jo Thompson (CRSS), 2014-2016
- Director, 16th Annual Interdisciplinary Research Conference, The University of Georgia, 2016
- Reviewer, Graduate Journal of Food Studies, Journal of Political Ecology
- Vice President, UGA Graduate Student Association, 2015-2016
- Teaching Assistant, Department of Anthropology, 2013-2014
- Invited participant, International Interdisciplinary Summer School: Political Ecology with Bruno Latour Forum Scientarium, Tübingen, Germany, Summer 2017
- Invited participant, Agriculture and Environment Society Dissertation Proposal Workshop at the Annual Meeting for the American Anthropological Association, Denver, USA, November 2015
- Society for Applied Anthropology
- American Anthropological Association
- Southeastern Division of the Association of American Geographers
- Food Studies Research Network
- European Association for the Study of Science and Technology (EASST)
In addition to my MS and PhD work above, I have also worked as a Research Assistant on another project:
Investigating Nutrition Director’s experiences with Farm to School programming
Graduate Research Assistantship, 2014-2016
This project is directed by PI Dr. Jennifer Jo Thompson and aims to develop knowledge around motivation, challenges, successes and strategies faced by Nutrition Directors, key decision-makers whose participation is crucial to the success and sustainability of Farm to School (FTS) programs.
To accomplish these aims, we conducted semi-structured interviews with Nutrition Directors across the state of Georgia. Additionally, we have conducted/are conducting participant observation at Northeast Georgia FTS leadership and enrichment activities to allow for complementary identification of challenges, successes, and strategies, as well as communication, leadership roles and other network dynamics that influence the success and sustainability of FTS programs. To investigate the role of social ties and social support for Nutrition Directors in FTS implementation and persistence, we also collect network participation data at Northeast Georgia FTS leadership and enrichment activities. The goal of this research is to promote sustainable, equitable Farm to School programming.
Brawner, A. J. 2015. Permaculture in the margins: realizing Central European regeneration. Journal of Political Ecology 22:429-444.
Thompson, J. J, A. J. Brawner, and U. Kaila. 2016. “You can’t manage with your heart”: Food safety and risk in Farm to School. Agriculture and Human Values doi:10.1007/s10460-016-9766-4.
Brawner, A. J. Forthcoming 2018. “You can taste it in the wine”: Terroir and the embodiment of place. In Carlnita Green, ed. Foodscapes: Food, Space, and Place in a Global World.
Brawner, A. J., A. Thompson, M. Cabrera, and J. J. Thompson. Making Minerality Matter: Soil Science in the Distinction of Post-Socialist Terroir Wines. In review April 2018.
- Council for European Studies Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship 2018-2019
- Global Programs International Travel Award (UGA), Summer 2018
- Fulbright Study Award (Hungary) 2016-2017
- Innovative and Interdisciplinary Research Grant (UGA), Summer 2015
- Melissa Hague Pre-Dissertation Research Grant (UGA), Summer 2014