Robin Elizabeth Smith

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Grant number

Gr. 10062

Approve Date

October 2, 2020

Project Title

Smith, Robin (Independent Scholar) "Hostage barter in the EU: An ethnography of corporate financial practices"

ROBIN SMITH, an independent scholar from Oxford, United Kingdom, was awarded a Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship in October 2020 to aid research and writing on “Hostage Barter in the EU: An Ethnography of Corporate Financial Practices.” The resulting manuscript, The Art of Getting by in Istrian Winemaking, tells a story of how winemakers work together to transform their market to reflect their economic values. It explains how they draw on their economic agency in daily life to help one another make ends meet in the context of financial precarity, where multinational corporations put pressure on their longstanding relationships, bank balances, and ways of doing business. Their business favors for neighbors and local competitors push back on financial manipulation tactics from outside seeking to diminish their liquidity. It asks what kind of capitalism is emerging in the region, and answers this question by showing how local values are transforming into economic systems. That Istrians have historically been considered politically dangerous because of assumptions that their Italian heritage translate into irredentist desires is a unique context within which one may analyze the struggles over values that animate the economy. For them, doing favors is a way of enacting the economic values that shape their market. Thus, the book unpacks the mechanics of local capitalism and how markets are a space of constant negotiation.


Smith, Robin. 2022. ‘Without friends, you don’t exist’: The value of favours in Istrian winemaking. In: Peter Howland and Corinna Howland (eds.), Wine and the gift: From production to consumption. Routledge (Critical Beverage Studies Series).  Smith, Robin. 2022. Taxing tradition: Shaping the rakija market through tax in Istria, Croatia. In: Johanna Mugler, Miranda Sheild Johansson, and Robin Smith (eds.), Anthropology and tax: Ethnographies of fiscal relations. Cambridge University Press.