‘Produced and Bottled in Moldova’: Winemaking in Flexible Capitalism

Trade relationships between Russia and Moldova developed in a very imbalanced way over decades, with Moldova being unilaterally dependent on the Russian market for its  wine and agricultural produce exports. In what is commonly interpreted as a political reaction to Moldova’s closer ties to the European Union, Russia imposed a series of bans on Moldovan exports starting in 2006. The wine industry has been heavily affected by this loss of markets, and the most recent ban on wines (from September 2013) is still in place. Seeking markets in Central-Eastern European countries has become the priority of the Moldovan wine sector in the recent years, and this shift has led to changes in wine production and flexibilization of labour. This project follows (1) the transformations in labour relations in the wine industry and workers’ livelihoods amid the reorganization of the export markets, when the Russian markets have been lost and Moldovan wine has started to be sold more in countries in European Union. Secondary research questions explore (2) the significance of house wine production for industrial labour relations and the domestic wine market, and also (3) the influence of the Soviet past in today’s practices and discourses about Moldovan winemaking. In this project I expand on a critical political-economic historical approach to the study of winemaking while I also widen anthropological research on Moldova, a country in which winemaking bears major social and economic importance.

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