[URBANTH-L]FW: AAA 2007 panel on fair, alternative & ethical trade

Lyon, Sarah M smlyon3 at email.uky.edu
Mon Jan 22 16:30:54 EST 2007

To SUNTA members:
I am trying to gather together a diverse group of anthropologists who work on fair and alternative trade to participate in a session at next year's AAA. I envision the panel being a way for anthropologists to take stock of where we, as a discipline, stand in relation to this topic. While I haven't actually written up the session abstract because I am unsure who will be interested in participating and would like to tailor it around their interests, I have included something below that speaks to at least some of the issues that the session might cover. If you are interested please contact me as soon as possible with your proposed paper topic. Please contact me at sarah.lyon at uky.edu with any questions.

What's Fair? Environmental and Social Justice Through the Market

The globalization of production has improved the quality of life of many consumers worldwide however it is undeniable that it has also worsened the living conditions for a large number of people.  International humanitarian movements, unions, and environmental, peace, and consumer-oriented groups increasingly identify consumer action as a promising vehicle for the creation of a more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable world. Transnational campaigns problematize consumer behavior and ask consumers to consider the negative impact of their shopping choices on the environment, workers, women, local economies and societies as well as world politics. Fair, alternative and ethical trade are prominent and long-standing examples of political consumerism and therefore provide an ideal vantage point for understanding the relationship between consumer goods and social and environmental justice. The movements work to transform north/south trade relations from a vehicle of exploitation into a form of empowerment for producers and their communities. These markets are rapidly expanding and, in the process, certification is increasingly being adopted by large multinational corporations which use it to signal their social and environmental responsibility to consumers. However, this trend raises important questions about how we should define "fairness" in global markets and whether market expansion weakens the movements' potential to foster environmental and social justice across the world. Some of the issues addressed in this session will include the following:


*	Under what conditions are fair, alternative and ethical trade best able to foster environmental and social justice? How do they impact participating communities in terms of economic equality, gender relations, ethnic relations etc.? 
*	Who defines what's "fair" in the international market? 
*	What are the competing definitions of "fairness"? 
*	Who should benefit from fair, alternative & ethical trade? Small producers? Plantation employees? Small businesses? Corporations? Who actually does benefit and how? 
*	What are the competing certification standards and how do they shape the markets' impact? 
*	How do corporate branding strategies intersect with movement goals and standards? 
*	What impact do quality demands have on standards and the movements' effectiveness in promoting environmental and social justice? 
*	What should be the appropriate role for academia in the movements? 
*	Do these movements hold potential for struggling small farmers and artisans in the United States? 
*	How do the movements and their definitions of "fairness" compare and/or compete with one another and similar alternative movements such as organic, local and slow food?




Sarah Lyon, PhD
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Kentucky

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