Rikki’s Brown’s presentation on “Autonomous Political Economies”

Autonomous Political Economies: winemakers, national heritage, and the ethnographic mapping of geopolitics in the Republic of Georgia

By Rikki Brown, University of California, Santa Cruz  

June 9, 2022 at 6:00-7:30 PM Tbilisi Time

Venue: Ilia State University A Block, room #306, Address: 32 ChavChavadze Ave

My project, situated in Georgia’s winemaking regions, encompasses anthropological methodologies, and qualitative data analysis including GIS and MAXQDA, to explore the layering of wine landscapes as commodity networks that tell a story of Georgian heritage. By examining dimensions such as viticulture practices, terroir, and performances of heritage, I investigate how identities are performed through wine. I foreground the movement of wine through Georgia’s wine economies to document and analyze interrelationships between wines, markets, identities, and consumers in order to understand the different ways that Georgian winemakers distinguish themselves, how this is translated to consumers, and what that means for the relationship between Georgia’s autonomous political economy and its geopolitical tensions with Russia.

Rikki is a PhD Candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has a Master’s of Art in social sciences from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s of Art in Russian Studies from Grand Valley State University (Michigan). Previous projects have included an analysis of socialist realist art in Soviet literature, ethnographic projects on Vladimir Putin’s cult of personality, and Turkish heritage in Chicago’s Turkish restaurant scene. Rikki has been working and studying in the former Soviet space since 2007 and has extensive experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry in Grand Rapids, Chicago, and the Bay Area of California. Rikki Brown is a recipient of the American Research Institute of the South Caucasus (ARISC) Graduate Postdoctoral Fellowship.

This talk is organized as a part of ARISC Online Event Series that showcase the work of ARISC fellows. ARISC does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, physical or mental disability, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, age, sexual orientation, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran.