Ethnographies of Fair Trade
This chapter draws some conclusions from the case studies presented in this book regarding the local impact of fair trade networks and certification. These case studies highlight the anthropology of fair trade as well as various types of fair trade commodities such as Darjeeling tea, coffee, crafts, and cut flowers. Fair trade proponents often argue that the initiative integrates geographically and culturally distant producers, consumers, and distributors into a single global partnership based on shared values and goals, but research among fair trade coffee producers in Mexico and the buyers of their coffee in the United States casts doubts about such unity. Based on these observations, the chapter outlines a broader path toward a more economically equitable and socially just exchange system at both the global and local levels. In particular, it urges those who sympathize with the goals of alternative trade to articulate a set of universal trading rights, analogous and perhaps related to those of human rights as expressed in the charters of various multinational organizations.
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