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Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

The Social Worlds of Wheat

Jessica Barnes

that many individuals around the world have an intimate connection with in their day-to-day lives, and global, the focus of an international commodity trade. Indeed more wheat is traded on international markets than any other grain ( FAS 2015 ). Yet

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Debarati Sen and Sarasij Majumder

The global circulation of food and agricultural commodities is increasingly influenced by the ethical choices of Western consumers and activists who want to see a socially and environmentally sustainable trade regime in place. These desires have culminated in the formation of an elaborate system of rules, which govern the physical and social conditions of food production and circulation, reflected in transnational ethical regimes such as fair trade. Fair trade operates through certifying producer communities with sustainable production methods and socially just production relationships. By examining interdisciplinary academic engagements with fair trade, we argue that fair trade certification is a transnational bio-political regime; although, it holds the potential for reflecting global counterpolitics. By reviewing the literature on the emergence and history of fair trade certification, agro-food chains, case studies on certified producer communities and the certification process, this article shows that fair trade certification is a new governing mechanism to discipline farmers and producers in the Global South by drawing them into globalized market relationships. However, recent studies suggest that fair trade also leaves open the potential for creative iterations of the fair trade idea in producer communities to give voice to their situated struggles for justice. Thus, fair trade constitutes a contested moral terrain that mediates between the visions of justice harbored by producers and activists in the Global South and reflexive practices of the Western consumers. To map these critical developments around fair trade and fair trade certification, close ethnographic attention to the material and symbolic life of certification is vital.

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Anna Scolobig, Luigi Pellizzoni, and Chiara Bianchizza

regard, the way in which relevant trade-offs are acknowledged and dealt with as well as the local policy context are crucial. It must be stressed from the outset that our study has an exploratory character, which entails limits in terms of robustness of

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Kenneth Margerison

The French monarchy's determination to suspend the trading rights of the Compagnie des Indes in 1769 stimulated a lively public debate over the establishment of commercial liberty in the Indies trade. Since mid-century, Vincent de Gournay and his disciples had advocated increased liberty in French commerce, and the Compagnie des Indes' privileged trading monopoly offered a tempting target for these reformers. Working on behalf of the ministry, the abbé Morellet undertook the task of convincing public opinion of the benefits that liberty of commerce in the Indies trade would bring to France. However, the company's principal banker Jacques Necker and physiocrat Pierre-Samuel Dupont raised serious doubts concerning both the feasibility and the value of such reform. These critiques challenged any expectation that commercial liberty would increase French strength in the Indies trade or contest British political hegemony in India after the Seven Years' War.

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Kyri W. Claflin

In the early twentieth century, French academic veterinarians launched a meat trade reform movement. Their primary objective was the construction of a network of regional industrial abattoirs equipped with refrigeration. These modern, efficient abattoirs-usines would produce and distribute chilled dead meat, rather than livestock, to centers of consumption, particularly Paris. This system was hygienic and economical and intended to replace the insanitary artisanal meat trade centered on the La Villette cattle market and abattoir in Paris. The first abattoirs-usines opened during World War I, but within 10 years the experiment had begun to encounter serious difficulties. For decades afterward, the experiment survived in the collective memory as a complete fiasco, even though some abattoirs-usines in fact persisted by altering their business models. This article examines the roadblocks of the interwar era and the effects of both the problems and their perception on the post-1945 meat trade.

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Stephen J. Silvia

Since German unification, assessments of the German economy have swung from “sick man of the euro” in the early years to dominant hegemon of late. I argue that the German economy appears strong because of its recent positive performance in two politically salient areas: unemployment and the current account. A deeper assessment reveals, however, that German economic performance cannot be considered a second economic miracle, but is at best a mini miracle. The reduction in unemployment is an important achievement. That said, it was not the product of faster growth, but of sharing the same volume of work among more individuals. Germany’s current account surpluses are as much the result of weak domestic demand as of export prowess. Germany has also logged middling performances in recent years regarding growth, investment, productivity, and compensation. The article also reviews seven challenges Germany has faced since unification: financial transfers from west to east, the global financial crisis, the euro crisis, internal and external migration, demographics, climate change, and upheavals in the automobile industry. German policy-makers managed the first four challenges largely successfully. The latter three will be more difficult to tackle in the future.

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Stephen Gross

Over the past decade Germany has had one of the most successful

economies in the developed world. Despite the ongoing Euro crisis unemployment

has fallen below 7 percent, reaching its lowest levels since German

reunification in 1990. Germany’s youth unemployment is among the

lowest in Europe, far beneath the European average.1 One of the most

important engines of the German economy today, and in fact throughout

the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, has been its export sector. As Ludwig

Erhard, West Germany’s Economics Minister during the Wirtschaftswunder

of the 1950s remarked: “foreign trade is quite simply the core and

premise of our economic and social order.”2 According to various estimates,

today exports and imports of goods and services account for nearly a half of

German GDP—up from only a quarter in 1990. Germany is one of only three

economies that do over a trillion dollars worth of exports a year, the other

two being the United States and China.

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The Anthropocene Trading Zone

The New Conservation, Big Data Ecology, and the Valuation of Nature

Lizzy Hare

The Anthropocene has been a generative concept in recent years and its influence can be felt across a wide range of fields. New Conservation and big data ecology are interrelated trends in ecology and conservation science that have been influenced by the technological developments and social concerns of the yet-to-be ratified Anthropocene epoch. Advocates of these ideas claim that they will revolutionize conservation science and practice, however they share many of the same underlying economic metaphors as the frameworks they seek to replace. The use of economic concepts, such as value, allows ecological science to be made legible outside of scientific communities, but that legibility places limitations on the possibilities for thinking about conservation outside of a market-based framework. If there is to be a threshold moment for new ecological thought, it will need to overcome the ideological limitations of valuation.

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Sophie Meunier

The most common perception of France found these days in the American media is that of an arrogant country, whose international gesticulations are the last hurrah masking its inevitable decline into oblivion. The French have not yet come to terms with their lengthy collapse, which started with the devastation of World War I, continued with the humiliation of their defeat in 1940 and was furthered by the loss of their colonial empire. This would explain their support, still to this day, for a Gaullist policy made up of power incantations, in contrast to real power—or lack thereof. Of course, this characterization is meant as much as an insult as an objective statement of fact. What few of these American commentators comprehend, however, is how much this image of a nation blinded by self-confidence is erroneous. On the contrary, the French have excelled at self-flagellation for a long time, rightly or wrongly. Whether one calls it “malaise” or decline, French commentators are the first to confess that France is free-falling—whether vis-à-vis the US, its European partners, or its own aspirations.

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Carl Strikwerda

that the global economy was bound up and supported by imperialism, that is, European control of non-European areas. Yet Lenin’s own statistics showed that most European investment and trade had little to do with imperialism—Britain’s in Argentina and