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Accepted Paper:

The goat is not yet dead: heritage breed ‘revitalization’ in Istria  
Nina Serbedzija

Paper short abstract:

How can ‘saving heritage breeds’ make and unmake human-animal worldings? Looking at the 'revitalization' of the Istrian goat breed in the aftermath of generations of bans on goat bodies and mobilities, ethnographies around the goat in Istria reveal entangled histories and futures.

Paper long abstract:

In Istria, a peninsula on the Adriatic where Croatia, Italy, and Slovenia meet, there is an ongoing project to ‘save the symbol of Istria’; an autochthonous breed of goat whose numbers have slowly dwindled to below 50 heads. With the Istrian goat, as with other endangered domestic animal breeds, discourses of cultural heritage and biodiversity extinction collide and challenge one another. Successive Hapsburg, Italian, and Yugoslavian environmental authorities blamed the goat for deforestation, and policies implemented in the late 19th and 20th centuries to regenerate karst landscapes led to bans on goat bodies and pasture practices. Many goat-related structures, practices, and foodways have since faded from the Istrian everyday, and wildfires are an increasing summer occurrence in untended rural landscapes. Now, Istrian policymakers are looking to excavate the Istrian goat and ‘revitalize’ it as a heritage breed and foodway in the hope that it will contribute to the sustainable development of rural landscapes and livelihoods. My research shows that while institutional actors genetically ‘find’ and plan to (re)produce the Istrian goat through the discourse of heritage and extinction, there are parallel stories, biographies and experiences producing meanings of the Istrian goat. Having set out to discover how ‘the death of the goat’ could have gone unnoticed given its symbolic importance on the Istrian coat of arms, I have encountered the sites and forms where the Istrian goat is alive and well, albeit transformed and resignified. The question becomes, what will be lost in the rush to ‘save the Istrian goat?’

Panel Narr02
Uncertain death: narrative and physical death and the spaces in between
  Session 2 Saturday 10 June, 2023, -