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Fair Trade and Social Justice

Global Ethnographies

Sarah Lyon, Mark Moberg, 0

Publication Year: 2010

“This outstanding collection not only serves as an accessible introduction to Fair Trade but illuminates the gap between the sunny rhetoric and the actual practice. With ethnographic richness and nuance, the authors complicate our understanding of the market as a means of achieving economic and social justice.”

Published by: NYU Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

Virtually unheard of a few decades ago, fair trade has suddenly emerged as one of the fastest growing segments of the consumer market, with hundreds of agricultural and manufactured goods now certified as having been produced under socially and environmentally sustainable conditions. Recent...

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1. What’s Fair?: The Paradox of Seeking Justice through Markets

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pp. 1-23

In recent decades, the growth of global markets for agricultural commodities, manufactured goods, and artisanal products has made available to residents of the developed countries an unprecedented array of consumer goods originating in diverse cultures and geographies. This seemingly endless...

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pp. 25-27

The first set of contributions in our volume, juxtaposed with the claims of much fair trade discourse, offers ethnographic explorations of how fair trade operates on the ground in four vastly different commodity systems: coffee, bananas, tea, and cut flowers. As the first and still most extensively marketed...

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2. Fair Trade and the Specialty Coffee Market: Growing Alliances, Shifting Rivalries

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pp. 28-46

The fair trade movement has achieved great success in creating a new set of rules for a corner of the coffee market; this change in rules has had positive effects for fair-trade-certified producers and vendors but has also had influence far beyond the formal fair trade market. This chapter examines the...

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3. A New World?: Neoliberalism and Fair Trade Farming in the Eastern Caribbean

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pp. 47-71

Unlike the United States, where fair trade sales are still largely limited to coffeehouses, co-ops, and online retailers, a wide array of fair trade items has been available in mainstream European supermarkets for more than a decade. Most of these goods bear the logo of Fairtrade Labelling Organizations...

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4. Fair Flowers: Environmental and Social Labeling in the Global Cut Flower Trade

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pp. 72-96

On chilly winter days, many American supermarkets welcome their entering customers with displays of fresh cut flowers. Urban convenience stores brighten sidewalks with buckets of orchids, roses, tulips, lilies, and even tuberoses on late winter mornings. Occasionally these fresh flowers are labeled...

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5. Colonial Pasts and Fair Trade Futures: Changing Modes of Production and Regulation on Darjeeling Tea Plantations

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pp. 97-122

On a cold winter night over milky, sugary cups of tea, I talked with fair trade plantation workers about politics in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal, tucked in the Himalayan foothills.1 Like on many evenings, we argued about the effectiveness of Darjeeling’s political parties and politicians. Slamming...

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In addition to redefining producer-consumer relationships, fair trade’s certification standards have prioritized gender equity, the maintenance of local cultural traditions, and democratic participation within producer groups. The three case studies composing this section critically examine the extent...

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6. A Market of Our Own: Women’s Livelihoods and Fair Trade Markets

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pp. 125-146

In January 2002, the vice president of Supply Chain Operations at Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR) visited the fair trade coffee cooperative I was researching on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala.1 The vice president traveled from Vermont to check on the progress of the cooperative’s...

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7. Fractured Ties: The Business of Development in Kenyan Fair Trade Tea

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pp. 147-175

I stand in one of Kenya’s bustling marketplaces waiting for the fair trade representative.1 In front of me a crowd of men is trading small bundles of the stimulant miraa while a discordant mix of hip hop emanates from the “miraa jets”—the Toyota pickups that wait to ferry this “green gold” to Nairobi and...

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8. Fair Trade Craft Production and Indigenous Economies: Reflections on “Acceptable” Indigeneities

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pp. 176-197

This chapter examines the links between European constructions of indigenous “Others” through catalogues of material practices, and the implications of these cultural understandings for the design and implementation of indigenous artisan fair trade projects.1 The vast majority of research on fair trade...

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pp. 199-201

The final three case studies in this volume approach alternative trade from the vantage point of consumption. Despite the expanding range of certified fair trade commodities in recent years, most goods remain entirely outside fair trade networks. This applies even to those items (especially manufactured...

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9. Fair Money, Fair Trade: Tracing Alternative Consumption in a Local Currency Economy

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pp. 202-228

In 1991, the town of Ithaca in upstate New York became a dual currency zone. A growing variety of goods and services, food, shelter, clothing, necessities, and luxuries, as well as labor, can also be exchanged with a kind of money other than the familiar, blue-green U.S. dollar. This currency, called...

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10. Relationship Coffees: Structure and Agency in the Fair Trade System

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pp. 229-257

In this chapter I explore the fair trade market in the U.S. Midwest as it is seen by activist students and coffee roasters, and in Mexico among professionals who market fair trade coffee and producers who sell to midwestern consumers. Many of these informants are involved in buying, selling, marketing...

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11. Novica, Navajo Knock-Offs, and the ’Net: A Critique of Fair Trade Marketing Practices

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pp. 258-282

Recently, Networks, the newsletter of the Fair Trade Federation, quoted Gandhi: “Poverty is not only about a shortage of money. It is about rights and relationships; about how people are treated and how they regard themselves; about powerlessness, exclusion and loss of dignity. Yet the lack of adequate...

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12. Naming Rights: Ethnographies of Fair Trade

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pp. 283-298

Fair trade agendas and methods are various, but researchers have come to regard these initiatives as part of a rapidly expanding movement. Anthropologists are especially committed to examining these new forms of exchange in light of the discipline’s concerns about interactions among different societies...

About the Contributors

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pp. 299-300


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pp. 301-307

E-ISBN-13: 9780814796221
E-ISBN-10: 0814796222
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814796207
Print-ISBN-10: 0814796206

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2010