The vital capital of Serbia: Co-producing valuable fruits, kinship, and the state through the global value chain of raspberries
Andre Thiemann (Central European University, Budapest)
Paper short abstract:
For post-socialist Serbia, the global value chain of raspberries has provided a main export commodity. The paper traces the value chain from its creation during socialism over its transformation in the 1990s to contemporary trends of "conquering" novel standards and battling increased competition.
Paper long abstract:
This paper tackles the relationship between transnational capitalist competition and agriculture during Serbia's transformations from self-managed socialism to post-socialist capitalism. Based on 20 months of fieldwork since 2009 resulting in articles on the "moral appreciation" and the "shrinking capitalism" of smaller-scale agricultural sectors (Thiemann 2014, 2017), I trace the Serbian desires and practices of raspberry growing for world markets to sketch a relational anthropology of the state from the perspective of family farming in the global countryside. Viewing the global value chain of raspberries as a messy co-production of knowledge, power and society, the paper disentangles diverse modalities of accumulation: techno-scientific gardening, indebting and kinning, standardising and sorting quality, branding, and protesting against deregulation and for governmental re-regulation. This open-ended assemblage is approached from its hilly heartland in south-western Serbia, unearthing the polyphonic practices and the boundary work of farmers and "land-workers", scientists and municipal officials, representatives of cooperatives and corporations. Salvaging their worlding practices, it reconstructs the trajectory of raspberry commodification since Yugoslav late socialism - when the plantations of the "red gold of Serbia" grew in leaps and bounds and the industry "conquered" the international DIN norm - to late capitalism, when the traveling models of transnational standards and increased global competition pose new translation problems.
Rearticulating labour: staying, moving, and mobilizing along global commodity chains