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Pecunia non olet but Does Rose Money Smell? On Rose Oil Prices and Moral Economy in Isparta, Turkey

The Politics and Ethics of the Just Price

ISBN: 978-1-78743-574-2, eISBN: 978-1-78743-573-5

Publication date: 19 June 2019


This paper investigates rose and rose oil production in the province of Isparta, Turkey, with reference to the discourses on and procedures of price formation. Farmers have been engaging in rose cultivation for over a century and rose oil production is considered to be a traditional industry. The market actors for rose oil are global cosmetic and local processing firms and almost all rose oil from Isparta is exported. Prices and production have been steadily increasing since 2010. Although prices are seen as good, there are concerns about overproduction and fierce competition between the rose oil firms to buy the harvest, hence pushing up rose prices and, leading to a crash in rose oil prices on the world market. Through careful observation of payment and price formation procedures, the paper raises issues concerning the moral economy of price formation. Findings are provisional and the research is on-going, but the discourse on just prices clearly suggests that value judgments are embedded in and implicitly critical of capitalist markets.




Earlier versions of this paper have been presented at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, the Universities of Pardubice and of Warsaw and also at the Conference of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA) in July 2016, at a panel organized by Peter Luetchford and Giovanni Orlando. A subsequent version has been published within the Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology (no. 178, 2016). The author would like to thank Peter Luetchford and Giovanni Orlando for their thorough editorial assistance and suggestions, also colleagues at the Max Planck Institute in Halle, in Pardubice and Warsaw for their comments and discussion. Further thanks go to Chris Hann, James Carrier, Bruce Grant, Alessandro Testa, Deema Kaneff, and two anonymous reviewers for useful suggestions, critique, and improvements on the paper. Sincere thanks are due to the rose growers and rose oil processors and Gülbirlik as well as colleagues at the Süleyman Demirel University in Isparta, who have supported the research wholeheartedly. As usual the author is responsible for any shortcomings.

This paper draws on research that has received funding from the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013)/ERC Grant agreement no. 340854 (REALEURASIA).


Yalçın-Heckmann, L. (2019), "Pecunia non olet but Does Rose Money Smell? On Rose Oil Prices and Moral Economy in Isparta, Turkey", The Politics and Ethics of the Just Price (Research in Economic Anthropology, Vol. 39), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 71-90.



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