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Greek Whisky

Greek Whisky: The Localization of a Global Commodity

Tryfon Bampilis
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 268
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  • Book Info
    Greek Whisky
    Book Description:

    In many contexts of Greek social life, Scotch whisky has coincidentally become a symbol of "Greekness," national identity, modernity, and the middle class. This ethnographic study follows the social life of Scotch in Greece through three distinct trajectories in time and space in order to investigate how the meanings of the beverage are projected, negotiated, and acquired by various different networks. By examining the mediascapes of the Greek cultural industry, the Athenian nightlife and entertainment, and the North Aegean drinking habits, the study illustrates how Scotch became associated with modernity, popular music and culture, a lavish style, and an antidomestic masculine mentality.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-878-0
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xiii)
  5. Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xiv-xiv)
  6. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  7. Introduction. The Social Life of Whisky
    (pp. 1-38)

    Whisky is one of the favorite beverages of Karolos Papoulias, the latest President of Greece, and of most prime ministers of the last three decades, including Andreas Papandreou and Kostantinos Karamanlis. In public discourse and lifestyle magazines, whisky has been characterized as the “the national drink of Greece” in contrast with retsina, which has been called pure “folklore” (GreekPlayboyMagazine January 1990: 136–141).¹ It is apparent that signs of modernity have developed at the expense of other objects that are thought traditional, backward, or Greek. Furthermore, the consumption of this imported commodity has clear connections with popular culture...

  8. CHAPTER 1 The Imported Spirits Industry in Greece
    (pp. 39-58)

    Whisky in Greece usually refers to a broad category of Scotch. After the creation of the nation-state in Greece, British luxury goods became particularly prestigious and in certain cases were considered much better than domestic ones.¹ A similar mentality can be still found nowadays in the expressionafto ine megla, which literally means “this is made in England” in Athenian slang, the connotation being that the product referred to is of high quality. This view of a British modernity is also related to a conceptualization of the West, which in many cases in Greece is tied to notions of high...

  9. CHAPTER 2 Dreams of Modernity: Imagining the Consumption of Whisky during the Golden Age of Greek Cinema
    (pp. 59-80)

    The development of cinema and the film industry in Greece came long before marketing and television advertisements, which meant that new commodities were seen for the first time in scenarios that had usually been produced in Greece by the film industry. The refrigerator, the washing machine, the car, and the bottle of whisky were only a few of the many commodities projected in films. These fetish-like commodities would appear on the cinema screen similar to the way they would stand in a shop window: polished, new, and shiny. One could argue that they were presented with certain ambivalence: as entailing...

  10. CHAPTER 3 “Keep Walking”: Whisky Marketing and the Imaginaries of Scale Making in Advertising
    (pp. 81-108)

    While commercial Greek cinema was busy with the nationalization and translation of modernity and tradition, marketing and advertising were more inspired and excited by the global and the local. Moreover, the marketing industry would influence to a large extent the consumption patterns in contemporary Greece; for example, products that did not exist before the 1950s or 1960s, such as frappé and Scotch, were entirely invented or reinvented as national. In this project, the role of television and the proliferation of printed material, such as magazines and newspapers, is undeniable. The role of mediascapes in this process was pervasive and impossible...

  11. CHAPTER 4 The Social Life of Whisky in Athens: Popular Style, Night Entertainment, and Bouzoukia with Live Greek Popular Music
    (pp. 109-152)

    Leisure in Greece is interconnected with the consumption of alcohol. This is visible in most leisure spaces such askafenion, taverns, restaurants, bars and clubs, as well as on social occasions such as gatherings of family and friends, celebrations, public festivals, weddings, and funerals. In each location and on each social occasion certain types of alcohol are consumed. This part of the study deals with the locations in which the consumption of whisky has become institutionalized, especially during and after the period of post authoritarianism in Athens. More specifically, it examines thebouzoukiaandskiladikawhere live Greek popular music...

  12. CHAPTER 5 The Location of Whisky in the North Aegean
    (pp. 153-203)

    In the recent past, various new beverages have become part of the social life of the inhabitants of the island of Skyros in the North Aegean. Among these commodities, imported alcoholic beverages and more specifically Scotch whisky stand as a sign of the specific forms that modernity takes on the island. The increasing presence of imported beverages is evident in several aspects of the social life. From bars tokafenio(the Greek coffeehouse) and nightclubs,parees(companies) of inhabitants form to go out and drink whisky, whereas others use the beverage while they playpoka(a local version of poker)....

  13. Conclusion. Trajectories of Scotch Whisky, Realms of Localization
    (pp. 204-213)

    By following Scotch whisky through three distinct trajectories—the mediascapes of the cultural industry, the Athenian nightlife and entertainment, and the island drinking styles—this study demonstrated that the concept as well as the product has shifted between various meanings. The shifts in meaning from the cultural industry to various groups of consumers might be interpreted sometimes as complementary and sometimes as contradictory, making it clear that strategies of powerful institutions can face consumers’ tactics. In that sense the material shows that consumers’ tactics employ excessive opposition to resist the disciplining desires of the culture industry. Therefore, localization and resistance...

  14. References
    (pp. 214-223)
  15. Index
    (pp. 224-228)