Stirring The Pot In Poland: Traditional Plum Jam, Regional Identity, And Rural Development In The Lower Vistula Valley

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This dissertation uses Polish Plum Jam from the Lower Vistula Valley (Powidła Śliwkowe z Doliny Dolnej Wisły) as a case study of a regional food product seeking a geographical indication from the European Union (EU). Thereby it serves as a lens onto the seemingly contradictory nature of the EU's different policies: harmonizing and standardizing on the one hand, particularly in the area of food and agriculture; and promoting "diversity" on the other, whether in food, languages, or regional identities. This neoliberal project of defining sellable "identities" and "traditions" plays out in the lived experience of EU citizens, leading to negotiations and conflicts over the definitional ownership of these concepts. Here existing local social conditions and hierarchies come to bear. Whether teachers define a regional identity to imbue in their impoverished students or producers debate the authenticity of different jam making practices in order to register their product for a special designation, some voices are privileged while others are silenced. Advantages of cultural and social capital give a regional elite the upper hand in these negotiations. Thus the EU's attempt to promote diversity in the area of traditional food products has an ambivalent effect. On the one hand, it is creating markets and consumer awareness and supporting the identification and development of traditional foods through such avenues as Local Action Groups. On the other hand, the demands of the registration process are leading to the exclusion or withdrawal of participants and the narrowing of traditional practices to those supported by the most influential voices in the debate. iii

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Traditional food products; European Union; Regional identity; Poland; Lower Vistula Valley


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Fajans, Jane

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Hodzic, Saida
Brown, David L
Boyer, Dominic C.

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Ph. D., Anthropology

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Doctor of Philosophy

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Government Document




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dissertation or thesis

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