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Center for Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies pres.

CREES Noon Lecture. Terroir, Ecological Stewardship, and Heritage Politics in the Bulgarian Wine Industry

Yuson Jung, associate professor of anthropology, Wayne State University

Bulgarian vineyard Bulgarian vineyard
Bulgarian vineyard
Bulgaria is arguably one of the oldest wine-producing countries in the world, and built a large, highly industrialized and export-oriented wine sector during state socialism as a wine-producing specialist of COMECON (the economic alliance of Soviet allies). When socialism collapsed in 1989, the wine industry faced multiple challenges, including the accepted international hierarchy of wine-producing countries through which Bulgarian wines then became understood and marketed. In this talk, I examine the contestations over the idea of terroir (a taste of place) among Bulgarian wine professionals to understand how wine is involved in heritage projects. As new resources and opportunities became available through EU heritage politics in which wine traditions became a central piece of the heritage industry and of agricultural and rural development, these debates highlight diverse meanings of ecological stewardship in light of heritage preservation. Understanding wine as a cultural heritage raises important questions of whose and which past is worthy of preservation, and why. The tensions within the Bulgarian wine industry, namely reconciling the cultural pride of winemaking heritage with a competitive hierarchical global wine market, illustrate the multi-faceted aspects of culture, ecology, and politics in the era of post-Cold War globalization.

Yuson Jung is associate professor of anthropology at Wayne State University. Her research explores issues of consumption, food politics, globalization, and postsocialism. She is the author of "Balkan Blues: Consumer Politics after State Socialism" (Indiana University Press, 2019) which examines everyday consumer experience in postsocialist Bulgaria. She has also co-edited (with Jakob Klein and Melissa Caldwell) "Ethical Eating in the Postsocialist and Socialist World" (University of California Press, 2014). Currently, she is working on a book project entitled "The Cultural Politics of Wine: Globalization, Heritage, and the Transformation of the Bulgarian Wine Industry," as well as on a collaborative research project (with Andrew Newman) regarding food politics and urban governance in Detroit.

This lecture is part of the WCEE environment series.

If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation to attend this event, please reach out to weisercenter@umich.edu at least 2 weeks in advance of this event. Please be aware that advance notice is necessary as some accommodations may require more time for the university to arrange.
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