Accepted Paper:

Household diffuse economy: liberal market, traditional landscape, and authenticity in a Romanian pastoral county  


Vintila Mihailescu (National School of Political and Administrative Studies)

Paper short abstract:

The paper explores the ways pastoral households in Fundata manage to cope with post-socialist de-industrialization and the breakdown of pastoral market by a creative and flexible usage of land property and insertion in an emerging “economy of experience” (Pine and Gilmore, 1999)

Paper long abstract:

After the fall of communism, dramatic de-industrialization, and high return migration, rural households tried to cope with new market conditions by reconsidering their scarce resources - mainly land ownership. The paper is an ethnography of emerging strategies of household diffuse economy in a pastoral county of Romania, still preserving some forms of traditional communal land property.

After de-industrialization of the near by town, return to the pre-socialist family land, its diminishing productive value but growing real estate price, most households in Fundata started to creatively play with their land assets and liabilities. Marin's household is a typical case. They sold to a rich city based family a large parcel of their land, while keeping the right to mow it. Having a part time job in a communal institution, Marin has not enough time to mow, so that he usually has to hire poor Roma neighbors whose subsistence depend on such seasonal work. The hay is used to raise cattle. Their milk and meat are turned to "traditional products", a small part of which is returned as gift to the new landowners, the rest being sold to other city-based neighbors and tourists or taken over by a small local entrepreneur who is selling them on the city market.

The village gained in time the reputation of "traditional landscape" and "authentic life style", attracting more tourists and thus enhancing agrotourism. This flourishing industry is now competing with local household diffuse economy, both making use of and undermining it in order to better sell local "authenticity".

Panel Rur001
Ethnography of rural spaces: between utopia and neoliberalism