Erica A. Farmer is a legal anthropologist working on cultural heritage issues, specifically around artesan foods and museum collections. The focus of her research is on the ways in which law and regulation shape the choices of a wide variety of sociocultural actors, as well as the connections with and divergences from cultural understandings of value in the same areas. Her Ph.D. research focused on legal regulation of alcoholic beverages and foodstuffs in Europe under international law in their sociocultural context, considering issues such as tradition, authenticity, technology, and power structures surrounding the regulatory system. The other major direction of her work has been museum based, particularly looking at issues related to institutional policymaking around cultural heritage and sensitive collections.
Farmer’s methods are based in a combination of ethnographic research, textual analysis, and actor network theory, and seek to bridge the gaps between legally and socioculturally focused perspectives in this area. Her current research project is based on the (re)emerging spirits industry in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania and the connections between artesan production, sociocultural values, and legal regulation in the region, specifically in relationship to rum and whiskey production.
2014 "Codifying consensus and constructing boundaries: Setting the limits of appellation d'origine contrôlée protection in Bordeaux." Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 37(1): 126-144.
2013 "’Local, Loyal and Constant’: The Legal Construction of Wine in Bordeaux.” In Anthropology of Wine: Ethnography from the Vineyard to the Glass. Rachel E. Black, Ph.D. and Robert C. Ulin, Ph.D, eds. Pp 145-160.
2011 “Looking for usages locaux, loyaux, and constants: The problems of the Westcountry Farmhouse Cheddar Protected Denomination of Origin (PDO) in the United Kingdom.” Food Geography. 1:46-54.