The International Studies Public Forum and Department of History present
“Fair Trade Fantasies, Vietnam Gaps, and Coffee Statecraft”
with Gavin Fridell, Canada Research Chair and Associate Professor, International Development Studies, Saint Mary’s University Canada
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Social Science Plaza A, Room 1100
About the speaker:
Gavin Fridell is a Canada Research Chair and associate professor in international development studies at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada. He is the author of Coffee (2014), Alternative Trade: Legacies for the Future (2013) and Fair Trade Coffee: The Prospects and Pitfalls of Market-Driven Social Justice (2007), and numerous articles and book chapters on international trade and development. He is currently conducting work on the politics of trade and alternative trade in global commodities, North and South, with a particular emphasis on statecraft, and psychoanalysis and development.
About the talk:
Fair trade coffee sales have boomed since the late 1980s, making it one of the most recognized forms of “ethical consumerism” in the world. Around the same time, exports of lower quality coffee beans from Vietnam boomed, launching Vietnam from an insignificant coffee exporter to the world’s second largest with historically unprecedented speed. While both projects have had impacts on tens of thousands of farmers, Northern actors have given far more public and positive attention to fair trade. This difference, Fridell argues, does not stem from a strictly objective appraisal of each project, but from the compatibility of fair trade with “free trade” and its emotionally charged ideological fantasies, as opposed to the Southern agency and complicated collective action implied by Vietnamese coffee statecraft.