Over the last fifty years, the production and consumption of chicken meat have soared in Bolivia. This article analyzes the political, economic, and cultural developments that have led to the popularity of chicken meat in this country. It also asks who has benefited from this success story. The author relies on data from one year of multisited ethnographic fieldwork in Bolivia to provide an account of the history of industrial chicken meat production in the country. This article particularly focuses on the role that national elites and their political entanglements have played in the development of the poultry sector. Marketing campaigns playing on desires to join Western modernity have fostered a taste for industrial chicken meat. Constant overproduction has kept market prices low, so that chicken has become available for the masses. The supply of cheap chicken meat also has been on the political agenda. This article concludes that the expansion of industrially produced chicken meat has mostly favored the upper and middle classes, leaving the poorer population with products that are cheap but of doubtful quality. Under the guise of a “sovereign” supply of cheap meat, an immense business opportunity has been created.
Chicken for Everyone? A Cultural Political Economy of the Popularity of Chicken Meat in Bolivia
Sarah Kollnig is a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Service Management and Service Studies at Lund University, Sweden. Her research focuses on food and social inequalities, in both the Swedish and South American contexts. She holds a PhD in Human Ecology from the same university.
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Sarah Kollnig; Chicken for Everyone? A Cultural Political Economy of the Popularity of Chicken Meat in Bolivia. Gastronomica 1 November 2020; 20 (4): 36–48. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2020.20.4.36
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