Paper on Caviar trade in the EU

New paper exploring grey markets in caviar

Dr Hannah Dickinson has published a new paper in Political Geography on the caviar trade in Europe, based on her research in the BIOSEC Project

Caviar Matter(s): The material politics of the European caviar grey market.


The last quarter of a century saw the international political community make concerted efforts to regulate global caviar trade and prevent illegal harvesting of critically endangered sturgeon. Ironically, the regulations have enabled the emergence of novel forms of illicit trade which intertwine legal and illegal streams of caviar on the international marketplace. This paper foregrounds these licit-illicit interfaces and argues that the international caviar trade constitutes a ‘grey market’ characterized by a host of laundering practices that entangle legal and illegal caviar flows. Drawing on geographical scholarship on political animals and fleshy geopolitics, the paper theorises how the fleshy material properties of caviar, namely its chemical-isotope profile and composite form, directly shape the European caviar grey market. By highlighting how the materiality of caviar creates grey interfaces between legal and illegal caviar economies, the paper unsettles dominant dichotomized representations of illegal caviar trade which tend to foster overwhelmingly securitized policy-enforcement approaches in Europe. In pointing to the hidden ‘fleshy geopolitics’ surrounding EU enforcement strategies, the paper calls for a reshaping of policy and enforcement which better attends to the grey dimensions of the caviar market and provides increased protection for wild sturgeon populations and marginalised communities located at the Eastern borders of Europe.

You can access the full paper here