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Roses and people: exploring sustainable livelihoods in the Rose valley, Bulgaria (PLA 58)

Preslava Nenova

Journal article

Article of general interest published within theme issue. Guest editors: Tom Wakeford and Jasber Singh. To read the full table of contents please click on ‘More information’ above.

In this article the author describes her field research on the social dynamics and processes integral to rose growing-dependent livelihoods in the region of Turnichene, in central Bulgaria, There has been no significant socio-anthropological research into how social, economic and cultural developments have affected rose growing in the Rose valley since the transition from state socialism. A large part of the population lives in extreme poverty, at least seasonally, despite participating in the annual production of rose oil, a high-value international commodity. The study had a variety of aims and results. This article focuses on describing how the use of participatory exercises encouraged this ethnically diverse community to articulate their concerns, opinions and knowledge. It helped to raise local awareness of the potential for discussion to clarify common goals at all levels. The adults of Turnichene had been brought up without basic rights and freedom of expression by the former communist regime. They are nonetheless active actors in the dynamic network of power relationships in Turnichene and beyond. In the context of a disunited and disheartened community the author observed the potential to build on the latent capacity of seasonal labourers and small-scale farmers to use their grassroots power to safeguard their rights.

Participatory Learning and Action (PLA, formerly PLA Notes) is the world's leading series on participatory learning and action approaches and methods. PLA publishes articles on participation aimed at practitioners, researchers, academics and activists. All articles are peer-reviewed by an international editorial board. See: www.planotes.org

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