Crafting the Culture and History of French Chocolate

frenchchocolate This absorbing narrative follows the craft community of French chocolatiers—members of a tiny group experiencing intensive international competition—as they struggle to ensure the survival of their businesses. Susan J. Terrio moves easily among ethnography, history, theory, and vignette, telling a story that challenges conventional views of craft work, associational forms, and training models in late capitalism. She enters the world of Parisian craft leaders and local artisanal families there and in southwest France to relate how they work and how they confront the representatives and structures of power, from taste makers, CEOs, and advertising executives to the technocrats of Paris and Brussels.

Looking at craft culture and community from a cross-disciplinary perspective, Terrio finds that the chocolatiers affirm their collective identity and their place in the present by commemorating selectively their role in history. In addition to joining a distinguished tradition of American anthropological writing on the role of food, her study of the social production of taste in the invention of vintage, grand cru chocolates lends specificity and weight to theories of consumption by Pierre Bourdieu and others. The book will appeal to anthropologists, cultural studies scholars, and anyone curious about life in contemporary France.

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