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From Collection to Cultivation

A picture of red and orange chilli peppers

Doctoral Project: Daniela Sclavo

As a crop, the flavour of chile (chilli peppers, Capsicuum spp) dominates over its other qualities. As the world’s most important condiment, it is special because it brings taste and variety to an enormous range of cuisines. By making sense of the crossings between international, national, and local settings, in this project I will explore how and whether elements thought to be subjective or culturally based—such as flavour—have been integrated into scientific research projects, and how this has shaped conservation science. I expect to uncover how the different actors and changing contexts interacted in such a way that chile’s link to culinary traditions and local cultures were included in Mexican crop conservation programmes from their first efforts in the 1980s until their expansion in the early twenty-first century. 

Keywords: Chile, pepper, conservation, science, flavour