By Mary C. Neuburger
In Balkan Smoke, Mary Neuburger leads readers alongside the Bulgarian-Ottoman caravan routes and into the coffeehouses of Istanbul and Sofia. She unearths how a distant nation was once drawn into worldwide financial networks via tobacco construction and intake and within the approach turned smooth. In writing the lifetime of tobacco in Bulgaria from the past due Ottoman interval over the years of Communist rule, Neuburger supplies us even more than the cultural historical past of a commodity; she offers a clean point of view at the genesis of recent Bulgaria itself.
The tobacco exchange involves form so much of Bulgaria's diplomacy; it drew Bulgaria into its fateful alliance with Nazi Germany and within the postwar interval Bulgaria was once the first provider of smokes (the famed Bulgarian Gold) for the USSR and its satellites. by way of the overdue Sixties Bulgaria used to be the number 1 exporter of tobacco on the planet, with approximately one 8th of its inhabitants taken with production.
Through the pages of this publication we stopover at the areas the place tobacco is grown and meet the retailers, the employees, and the peasant growers, such a lot of whom are Muslim via the postwar interval. alongside the way in which, we find out how smoking and anti-smoking impulses stimulated perceptions of luxurious and necessity, questions of novelty, imitation, worth, flavor, and gender-based respectability. whereas the scope is usually international, Neuburger additionally explores the politics of tobacco inside Bulgaria. one of the book's surprises are the ways that conflicts over the tobacco (and smoking) support to explain the forbidding quagmire of Bulgarian politics.
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Extra info for Balkan Smoke: Tobacco and the making of modern Bulgaria
Smoking in the Plovdiv market, for example—always with coffee—was an integral part of a day of commerce. As Alvadzhiev details, each day would begin with the unlocking of stalls, a hello to one’s neighbors, a spritzing down of the dusty streets. Then merchants would move on to the coffee and smoking: “They tell one or two funny stories, they laugh and then go into their stores, they sit on the wide bench, cross their legs in the Turkish style and start to noisily sip coffee. The morning coffee!
The chibouk and narghile, like the fez and other Ottoman accoutrements, persisted primarily among Muslims and became associated with Ottoman allegiances. In larger cities in particular, like Sofia and Plovdiv, the large-scale exodus of Muslims meant that only a small elderly Muslim population remained, which slowly died out. 114 The Bulgarianization of the principality’s cities, though, proceeded gradually as urbanizing Bulgarians replaced Muslims, then Greeks after the Balkan Wars (1912–13), Armenians after World War I, and Jews after World War II.
35 Fanny Blunt also recognized that coffee and tobacco were “sober” pursuits. She described with approval the coffeehouse culture that had developed among Bulgarian shopkeepers and guilds, who met before and after work for coffee and a chibouk. ”36 Recast as sober and positive, the smoking Turk became a veritable role model for the Bulgarian Christian as a variety of Westerners recast the coffeehouse as a temple of sobriety and productive interchange. At the same time, however, it became increasingly clear that smoking was by no means a guarantee of sobriety among Balkan Christians.