Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

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

Dickinson, Hannah

Caviar matter(s): The material politics of the European caviar grey market Thumbnail



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.


Dickinson, H. (2022). Caviar matter(s): The material politics of the European caviar grey market. Political Geography, 99, Article 102737.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 10, 2022
Online Publication Date Sep 5, 2022
Publication Date 2022-11
Deposit Date Nov 8, 2022
Publicly Available Date Nov 9, 2022
Journal Political Geography
Print ISSN 0962-6298
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 99
Article Number 102737


You might also like

Downloadable Citations