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Ethnologue Absintheur

Sociology and Anthropology of Absinth -

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Here, you find a little abstract from my poster presentation in Association Sociologist and Anthropologist conference march 2007 Metropolitan University London about - Thinking through tourism -. You have a part of my research.


"On framing the reintroduction of a plant in the idiom of marketing:

(re)constructing the patrimony of Absinth"


This poster is based on photographs taken during my social anthropological research on the recent reconstruction and rehabilitation of Jurassic wormwood in the French region bordering Switzerland (Franco-Switzerland). Part of the ethnographic component of reflections on regional identities and territory, the images also attempt to show cultural features evident in the relation between a space – a localised mountain micro-region– and socio-economic practices among local people that are associated with the reintroduction and consumption of a universally known drink. It is a question of both grasping and understanding the way wormwood is associated with its area of origin, the collective aura to which this plant gives rise, transformed into a drink, elevated to the status of myth in the registration of qualifications among collectives groups of actors associated with the production and consumption networks of absinth.

It is thus a question of making a visual inventory of the forms and dynamics around developments generated by growers, distillers, those promoting its ancestral heritage, and even of collectors and passionate devotees. Absinth turns out to be a formidable tool for cultural promotion, tourism, part of the relationship between locals and tourists that is couched in terms of its patrimony or economy depending on whether one speaks about it as a plant, substance, ingredient, drink, product of the terroir, a taste, a myth, or a notion of tourism and identity. It will be photographed and thus listed on these territories and places of origin, the various tendencies, divergences, similarities and compartmentalisations making it possible to constitute a comprehensive view of the worlds of absinth.

Indeed, the prospects are for (re)evaluations of the product to turn into the spearhead for its universalisation by proposing to the city that it be adopted as the emblem of the area and of its inhabitants. With no hesitation joint arrangements have been set up with their Swiss neighbours for a possible project on “The country of absinth” (“Pays de l’absinthe”), an attempt at cultural redefinition of the product is anticipated. The town museum of Pontarlier has a accumulated a collection of objects and works about absinthe and has worked tirelessly for six years organising the “Absinthiades”, (the village of Boveresse in Val-de-Travers as for him celebrate each year since ten years famous “the festival of the absinth” (“La fête de l’absinthe”) which is an

annual festival celebrating and promoting understanding of the various

aspects of absinth not just to a regional but also an international public.

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