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Daniela and Antje share ethnographic insights on place attachment and rural livelihoods in the Republic of Moldova at an International Scientific-Practical Conference in Chisinau

13 October 2023

The Republic of Moldova has been drastically affected by depopulation, especially in rural areas. Nevertheless, in regions with a winegrowing tradition and emerging rural tourism, a large part of the active labor force is motivated to stay and not migrate. Daniela and Antje presented their joint work at the International Scientific-Practical Conference “Economic growth in the condition of globalization,” which took place in Chisinau, October 12-13, and was organized by the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova (ASEM) and the National Institute for Economic Research (NIER). In the paper they presented, they explore the interaction of rural residents with the local environment, and their acquirement of a sense of place and rootedness in a Moldovan winegrowing region. Drawing on ethnographic methods, they analyzed qualitative data collected through participant observation and narrative interviews during one year of fieldwork carried out predominantly in one village in southeastern Moldova. The ethnographic perspective provides a holistic understanding of the existing narratives and individual circumstances that support staying in this rural area through the lens of place attachment. In particular, they analyzed the interplay between local identities, place-making, and population dynamics. Results show that the presence of a long tradition in both industrial and artisanal wine production plays an important role in the interlocutors’ attachment to this place. Nevertheless, other aspects such as owning or building a house, family cohesion, owning land, or appreciating the landscape and rural lifestyle are at least as important in their decision to stay. The presence of a recognized ‘taste of place’ expressed in wine and other local foods is an embodied, sensory experience of place that accompanies the cluster of socio-economic and ecological dimensions of place attachment.