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The Red Riviera: Gender, Tourism, and Postsocialism on the Black Sea (Next Wave)by Kristen Ghodsee
Synopses & Reviews
This compelling ethnography of women working in Bulgariaandrsquo;s popular sea and ski resorts challenges the idea that women have consistently fared worse than men in Eastern Europeandrsquo;s transition from socialism to a market economy. For decades western European tourists have flocked to Bulgariaandrsquo;s beautiful beaches and mountains; tourism is today one of the few successfulandmdash;and expandingandmdash;sectors of the countryandrsquo;s economy. Even at the highest levels of management, employment in the tourism industry has long been dominated by women. Kristen Ghodsee explains why this is and how women working in the industry have successfully negotiated their way through Bulgariaandrsquo;s capitalist transformation while the fortunes of most of the population have plummeted. She highlights how, prior to 1989, the communist planners sought to create full employment for all at the same time that they steered women into the service sector. The women given jobs in tourism obtained higher educations, foreign language skills, and experiences working with Westerners, all of which positioned them to take advantage of the institutional changes eventually brought about by privatization.
Interspersed throughout The Red Riviera are vivid examinations of the lives of Bulgarian women, including a waitress, a tour operator, a chef, a maid, a receptionist, and a travel agent. Through these womenandrsquo;s stories, Ghodsee describes their employment prior to 1989 and after. She considers the postsocialist forces that have shaped the tourist industry over the past fifteen years: the emergence of a new democratic state, the small but increasing interest of foreign investors and transnational corporations, and the proliferation of ngos. Ghodsee suggests that many of the ngos, by insisting that Bulgarian women are necessarily disenfranchised, ignore their significant professional successes.
A study of the changes in women’s roles in postcommunist Bulgarian society and the workplace, focusing on the tourism industry.
About the Author
“The Red Riviera explores gendered inequalities in Bulgaria’s postsocialist tourist industry, focusing on the forces and factors that have enabled women, in particular, to dominate this sector. Kristen Ghodsee’s well-written study adds provocatively to debates on cultural capital and capitalism, gender, and postsocialist transformation.”—Gail Kligman, coauthor of The Politics of Gender after Socialism
“This engaging book draws readers into unfamiliar tourist playgrounds in Bulgaria. Kristen Ghodsee deftly intertwines ethnographies with widely held assumptions about how the transition from communism to the free market affected the economy, the society, and the people. Tourism has rewarded the highly educated women who dominate the industry. She further questions the relevance of women’s NGOs which emphasize non-economic issues rather than focusing on education and jobs.”—Irene Tinker, author of Street Foods: Urban Food and Employment in Developing Countries
“Where are the women in globalized tourism? On the Bulgarian beach front! Yes, the Bulgarian beach front. The Red Riviera takes us along on the surprising journeys that thirty-something, orange-haired Desi and the younger Svetla are navigating as they steer their ways through the postsocialist, capitalist market tourism economy. Suddenly we see waitressing as a privileged job; we see university entries shrinking; we see the whole meaning of being a woman in a tourism job changing. This is an engaging, smart, and feminist book.”—Cynthia Enloe, author of The Curious Feminist: Searching for Women in a New Age of Empire
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