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Trading places

Post-socialist container markets and the city

Caroline Humphrey and Vera Skvirskaja

This article discusses a vast, new and semi-legal marketplace of shipping containers on the outskirts of Odessa, Ukraine. It is suggested that such markets, which have sprung up at several places in post-socialist space where routes intersect, have certain features in common with mediaeval trade fairs. However, today's markets have their own specificities in relation to state and legal regimes, migration, and the cities to which they are semi-attached. The article analyzes the Seventh Kilometer Market (Sed'moi) near Odessa as a particular socio-mythical space. It affords it own kind of protection and opportunities to traders, but these structures may be unstable in a changing economic climate.

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Great Expectations

Revisiting Canadian Economic Footprints in Siberia, 1890s–1921

J.L. Black

Canada's interest in Russia's Far East and Siberia has a long history, propelled in the nineteenth century by London's Hudson's Bay Company driving eastward and St. Petersburg's Russian-American Company driving westward. Competition and sometime cooperation led to mutually beneficial projects shaping up in the early 20th century, among them plans to link up the Canadian Pacific Rail and Steamship Line with the Trans-Siberian in a trading complex that would have circumnavigated the world. The Great War, the Russian Revolution, and Civil War, sealed the fate of this grandiose vision. Studies on Western involvement in the Russian Civil War highlight, reasonably, the military dimensions of intervention. Canada sent troops to Siberia as well, but Ottawa's ambition was primarily trade. Using untapped Russian archival material and contemporary Siberian newspaper reports, this article revisits Canada's participation in Russia's postwar conflagration with emphasis on the extent to which expectation of economic gain shaped Canada's official and private presence in Siberia.

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V. A. Skubnevskii and lu. M. Goncharov

This article traces developments in Siberian trade and manufacturing in the period between the emancipation of the serfs and the early 1900s. Particular emphasis is placed on the evolving nature and role of the guild merchants. Attention is devoted to social change among the merchants, including education and their significance in local government and philanthropy.

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Fernando R. Tesón

I agree with many of the theses advanced by Darrel Moellendorf in his important book. The book covers just about every single issue in international ethics: an individualist theory of sovereignty; an essentially Rawlsian philosophical methodology; the justice of immigration and trade controls; the justice of intervention and war; and a theory of global equality of opportunity. Moellendorf proposes a world of liberal separate states (similar to my own proposal)1 but committed to a scheme of non-statist global redistribution run by a sort of international agency. He thus joins other liberal commentators who have reacted to John Rawls’ rejection of principles of global socioeconomic justice.2 As is well known, Rawls’ principles of international justice are anti-cosmopolitan, not just in the sense that worries Moellendorf, that is, of eschewing global redistribution of wealth, but also in the area of human rights, where Rawls has essentially renounced global liberalism.3 Moellendorf believes, like those other liberal critics, that Rawls is wrong and justice requires transfers of wealth from citizens in rich countries to those in poor countries.

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Jonathan Skinner

Risk and Sociocultural Theory: New Directions and Perspectives. Edited by Deborah Lupton Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999, ix, 185pp., paperback £19.99. ISBN 0-521-64554-9.

Trade and Trade-offs: Using Resources, Making Choices, and Taking Risks. By Estellie Smith. Prospect Heights, Illinois: Waveland Press, Inc., 2000, x, 185pp., glossary, annotated bibliogr., paperback $20.95. ISBN: 1-57766-092-7.

Hitting the Jackpot: Lives of Lottery Millionaires. By Pasi Falk and Pasi Maenpaa. Oxford: Berg, 1999, 168pp., appendices, bibliogr., £15.99. ISBN 9781859733059.

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Creative Encounters

African Trade and Chinese Oil Production in Western Chad

Nikolaus Schareika

The oil industry tends to remain disconnected from local realities surrounding production sites, a situation that can be explained by theories of enclaving and technological zones. Despite these barriers, local people try to connect to and profit from oil projects that are set up in their vicinity. This article explores the relationships between a Chadian merchant, who started as a worker in the oil fields, his suppliers of goods and credit, and a Chinese oil company. The analysis focuses on the improvisation that the merchant and his Chinese clients undertook in order to develop trade in a difficult supply situation. The African system of trade enabled the Chinese company to overcome challenges to its project, while helping the merchant convert oil money into commercial capital.

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Separating the Wheat from the Chaff

The Social Worlds of Wheat

Jessica Barnes

Wheat is one of the world’s most widely grown, traded, and consumed crops. This article reviews the interdisciplinary literature on human-wheat interactions, tracing how various actors engage with wheat up until its point of consumption. I look first at wheat as a seed, examining efforts to transform wheat over time through farmer selection and scientific breeding, and the emergence of high-yielding wheat, hybrid wheat, and genetically modified wheat. Second, I look at wheat as a plant and what it means to farm wheat. I highlight two key dimensions of farmer-wheat interactions—farmers’ choice of variety and their management of risk. Finally, I look at wheat as a grain and the practices of transportation, sorting, and trade that mediate flows of harvested grain from field to market. Through reviewing these three areas of literature, the article reveals the social worlds that both shape and are shaped by this globally significant crop.

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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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“A Land of Limitless Possibilities”

British Commerce and Trade in Siberia in the Early Twentieth Century

Janet Hartley

This article looks at the prospects and the reality of British commercial activity in Siberia in the early twentieth century, before the outbreak of World War I, and is based on contemporary comments by travelers, businessmen, and commercial agents. Contemporaries agreed that the dynamic Siberian economy opened up opportunities for British exports and trade. British firms, however, lagged behind commercial rivals, in particular in Germany, and the United States. The article explores the reasons for this and also looks at the subjects of the British Empire who went to Siberia and the conditions under which they worked. The article demonstrates the vibrancy of Siberian economic development in this period and the active participation of Western powers in this process.

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Introduction

The Black Sea as region and horizon

Caroline Humphrey and Vera Skvirskaja

The introduction first outlines different perspectives on the Black Sea: in history, as a site of imperial conflicts and a buffer zone; in area studies, as a “region”; and in anthropology, as a sea crisscrossed by migration, cultural influences, alternative visions, and often a mutual turning of backs. We then discuss the Black Sea in the context of maritime ethnography and the study of ports, “hero cities”, pipelines, and political crises. The following sections consider Smith's notion of the “territorialization of memory” in relation to histories of exile and the more recent interactions brought about by migration and trade. In the concluding section we discuss how the Black Sea has appeared as a “horizon” and imaginary of the beyond for the peoples living around its shores.