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Presentation at the XXIXth European Society for Rural Sociology Congress in July 2023, Rennes: Ethnographic Perspectives on Well-being and Place Attachment in Rural Moldova

31 July 2023

Daniela and Antje presented a paper bringing an ethnographic perspective on the everyday lives and values of rural Moldovans by exploring non-migrating working-class villagers in a winemaking region. What are the interlinkages between place and well-being? We looked at core dimensions of well-being (such as adequate material resources, health, and family and social relations) as well as at the interlocutors’ aspirations, notions of fairness and their commitment to projects beyond self-interest according to Fischer (2014). Furthermore, we elaborated on the concept of place attachment by exploring the cultural and symbolic significance of local food and wine (both household and commercial production), their economic value, and how they strengthen interlocutors’ relation to place. Initial results show that villagers refer to various categories defined by Fischer (2014) that both increase and decrease their well-being through the place they live in. We observe similarities to the typology of stayers developed by Rühmling (2023: 114). Most of the interlocutors correspond to the "critical-negative non-mover" type. Moreover, place-related well-being dimensions are more visible in regions with place-dependent products such as wine. Household-produced food and wine are positive and cherished aspects of life in the village, but at the same time they are necessary products to make ends meet (Ana 2022). We plan on continuing fieldwork in Moldova in autumn to explore to what extent perceptions of staying have changed after the Russian invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.

During the same conference, Arjola Arapi-Gjini presented her joint work on place attachment, (im)mobility decisions and well-being in rural Southeast Europe. This is joint work with Antje Jantsch and IAMO colleagues Tom Dufhues and Judith Möllers. A similar version of this work was presented by Antje Jantsch during the 2023 ISQOLS Annual Conference that took place in Rotterdam from 21-25 August 2023. For details, see our newsfeed section.