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Justin Otten

Main supervisor: Glenn Bowman

Privatisation, development and a changing economy among grape growers: Macedonia


profile image for  Justin Otten

PhD research title:

"Privatisation, development and a changing economy among grape growers in Macedonia's Tikveš wine region"



Mr Glenn Bowman, Dr Daniela Peluso and Dr Mike Poltorak



As a social anthropologist, my research project focused on privatisation and development in and around the wine industry in the Tikveš region of Macedonia, and its effect on the grape growers and local economies. My primary concerns were studying the changing social relations of production and local economies; changing identity, integrity & livelihood among the growers; and shifting power structures given changes in the role of government, business and development agencies in the process.

A grower waiting for days to sell his grapes


Spending nearly a year and half in the Tikveš town of Kavadarci, my Title VIII grant funded my official research period from January through August 2011. In conducting my research I got to know scores of growers, families, and other individuals, and entrenched myself within the 'katastrofa' that has come to characterize the wine industry. I spoke with bureaucrats, political figures, and grape and wine producers both, visiting dozens of villages, towns, and wineries throughout the Tikveš region.


Grape growers blocking roads during a strike-protestMy preliminary findings point to new forms of criminality and corruption among the business elite who run the industry—which are labeled 'wine mafia' by the growers—and conversely, the adaptive measures growers are taking in order to adjust to the changing circumstances which characterise their plight. Yet intimate, minute aspects make up these shifting forms of behaviour, livelihood and survival, and how the cultural fabric is being re-woven is one aspect of the transition that I therefore hope to shed light on in my thesis.



American Councils Title VIII Research Funding

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Last Updated: 11/09/2013