Wine and the French Paradox: an anthropological tool for understanding globalization
Using wine as a national myth, this paper will analyse the paradoxical consequences of globalization with the example of France via a multi-sited ethnography in France, Hong Kong and China. The Great Transformation of wine creates and destroys ties, provoking expansions and crises. I describe displacements of production, consumption and regulation outside Europe. The growing role of transnational companies, the emergence of a new global elite adopting wine as a totem beverage, and the strategic role of international institutions in regulation have major consequences for a nation-state like France, which considers wine as part of its national heritage. From an anthropological perspective, wine is one way of examining the complexity of transnational ties and the political impacts of globalization.
Boris Petric is social anthropologist at CNRS and the director of the Norbert Elias Center at EHESS Marseille, France. He conducted fieldwork in former Yugoslavia, the Russian Federation, Post-Soviet Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan) and also in France. He started a new transnational fieldwork in 2012 among France and China in the global Wine economy. He teaches seminars on anthropology and globalization at EHESS and has also created several documentary films. He currently directs the collective scientific project “The Political Life of Commodities: A Qualitative approach of Transnational Circulations: Europe, Africa, and China”.