Knowing fish: a cultural case study and portrait of resource understandings in Caspian Eurasia

Change log
Berman, Callie 

This research seeks to establish the deductive premises of the contemporary sustainability concept by building a cultural case study. Beginning with mainstream resource definitions formulated under the sustainability concept which emphasize market evaluations, this case study explored the limitations of such resource interpretations in Caspian Eurasia. Using Caspian sturgeon as the object of analysis, this research’s inductive approach demonstrated how the sustainability concept was mobilized according to certain interpretations of the natural world, knowledge traditions, and a development history specific to western societies. It did so by recording resource meaning-making processes within Caspian cultural life, and how these were reflected in modernized aquaculture production in Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan. The IPBES Framework was tested as a representative tool for current sustainability formulations to assess the extent to which these formulations could explain local forms of sturgeon appreciation. By accounting for Caspian Eurasia’s development history, this research demonstrates how the physical geography of the Eurasian steppe conditioned distinct human relations with the environment which continue to inform modern day processes. Accounting for the region’s development history and the role sturgeon played as a key food source to support the livestock economy, this research produces alternative resource definitions that more accurately explain Caspian Eurasia’s contemporary relationship with sturgeon fish. These resource definitions fill conceptual gaps to update the sustainability framework by incorporating the important modes historically engaging Eurasia’s geography and people.

Siddarth, Saxena S
sustainability, resource, sturgeon, Caspian, Eurasia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, knowledge system
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Awarding Institution
University of Cambridge