Volha Biziukova

The taste of the “global cheese power”: making cheese – repositioning the country

The paper asks how the cheese has become the emblematic product of the embargo on the food products from the Western countries imposed in 2014 in Russia. I will discuss how cheesemaking has become part of the project of catching up development, with a particular emphasis on the technological aspect, and how the taste and the quality of cheese emerges as the medium for assessing the outcomes and the feasibility of this endeavor. Subsequently, I suggest that the project of the ‘technological’ transformation also implies a ‘moral’ transformation which aims to create both new ‘cultured’ cheese consumers and producers. I will consider how this particular dynamic that stems from the specificity of cheese as a product and its history in Russia, at the same time, demonstrates the workings of the tendencies and contradictions in Russia’s socio-economic development, as well as the continued salience of the Soviet legacies. The paper brings together the historicity and the social contingency of tastes and consumption, and the ability of the consumer products to reveal the tendencies of the larger socio-economic system.

Discussant: Biray Kolluoglu