4,147 research outputs found

    Documentary film and ethical foodscapes : three takes on Caribbean sugar

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    This article demonstrates how certain stories, voices and values around agro-food networks can be made powerful by documentary film. Our central argument is that documentaries mobilize ethics by presenting a partial and affective account of their subject matter, which makes their audience feel differently about the social relations that underpin the production of food and acts as a focal point for media scrutiny and political interventions. We focus attention on three documentaries about Caribbean sugar to explore multiple and disparate ethical claims made about the farmers, workers and communities that embody Caribbean sugar industries. Through a comparison of the three documentaries, we chart how the production and distribution of these films have entailed quite different ethical narratives, encounters and interventions. A key finding is that the context in which films are received is just as important as the content they deliver. The paper concludes with a guarded endorsement for using documentary film to transform the unequal life conditions experienced in the global food system, stressing the need for empirically-grounded critique of the context of documentaries and suggesting the important role that geographers might play as interlocutors in their reception

    Cut loose in the Caribbean : neoliberalism and the demise of the Commonwealth sugar trade

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    This article focuses on the way the Anglophone Caribbean succumbed to the overhaul of the European Union sugar trade and how these countries have attempted to restructure their economies in its wake. We show how the protagonists of reform gave a sense of inevitability to the demise of the Commonwealth trade system and conveyed (unrealistic) strategies for how this should be managed for the benefit of the Caribbean. In this way we detail the hegemony of neoliberalism in contemporary trade politics and the need for alternative strategies for rural development in the Caribbean region

    Certification schemes and the governance of land : enforcing standards or enabling scrutiny?

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    Given the challenges of upholding human rights in countries where land grabbing has been most acute, attention has turned to alternative regulatory mechanisms by which better land governance might be brought about. This essay considers one such approach: certification schemes. These encourage agricultural producers to adopt sustainability standards which are then monitored by third-party auditors. Used by the European Union to help govern its biofuel market, they now also have an important mandatory dimension. However, through a study of Bonsucro and the Roundtable on Sustainable Biofuels, we find both flaws in their standards and shortcomings in their ability to discipline the companies they are financially dependent upon. In sum, we suggest that the real value of these roundtable certification schemes might lie less in their ability to enforce standards than their (partially realised) role in enabling scrutiny, providing new possibilities for corporate accountability in transnational commodity chains

    Private experiments in global governance : primary commodity roundtables and the politics of deliberation

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    Emerging scholarship on global governance offers ever-more detailed analyses of private regulatory regimes. These regimes aim to regulate some area of social activity without a mandate from, or participation of, states or international organizations. While there are numerous empirical studies of these regimes, the normative theoretical literature has arguably struggled to keep pace with such developments. This is unfortunate, as the proliferation of private regulatory regimes raises important issues about legitimacy in global governance. The aim of this paper is to address some of these issues by elaborating a theoretical framework that can orientate normative investigation of these schemes. It does this through turning to the idea of experimentalist governance. It is argued that experimentalism can provide an important and provocative set of insights about the processes and logics of emerging governance schemes. The critical purchase of this theory is illustrated through an application to the case of primary commodities roundtables, part of ongoing attempts by NGOs, producers, and buyers to set sustainability criteria for commodity production across a range of sectors. The idea of experimentalist governance, we argue, can lend much needed theoretical structure to debates about the normative legitimacy of private regulatory regimes

    The reduced form as an empirical tool: a cautionary tale from the financial veil

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    An analysis of the limitations of the reduced-form empirical strategy as a method of testing the Modigliani-Miller model of corporate financial structure, demonstrating that an empirical strategy that is not closely tied to an underlying economic theory of behavior will usually yield estimates that are too imprecise or too unreliable to form a basis for policy.Corporations - Finance ; Investments

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    Making a market for sustainability : the commodification of certified palm oil

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    In the same way there are markets for carbon, there is now a market for sustainability. Ostensibly produced as a means of conserving land in South-East Asia, a commodity called ‘certified sustainable palm oil’ has been created by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and exchanged on its own international trading platform completely independently of the flow of physical palm oil. In this way, sustainability has acquired a precise pecuniary value and can be bought by ‘socially responsible’ companies to offset their use of conventional and potentially environmentally destructive palm oil. This is yet another instance of the commodification of nature, but of a kind largely unexplored in the literature because it has emerged without formal governmental authority. What this case adds analytically to the study of capitalism and environmentalism is two-fold. First, what is commonly described as non-state, market-driven governance must now be seen as actively market-making. Second, rather than foreclosing politics by moving outside the state and within markets, the fragile authority of the RSPO has opened space for activists and other interest groups to challenge both the regulatory mechanisms and social purpose of primary commodity governance

    Aid for trade and African agriculture : the bittersweet case of Swazi sugar

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    In 2006, the European Union reformed its sugar regime, reducing the price for sugar by 36%. To cushion the impact on traditional overseas suppliers, an ‘Aid for Trade’ programme called the Accompanying Measures for Sugar Protocol countries (AMSP) was implemented. This paper explores the impacts of the AMSP in Swaziland. The authors discuss emergent agrarian class differentiation and argue that the benefits experienced by farmers are jeopardised by ongoing processes of liberalisation. The paper concludes by suggesting that donors must consider market stabilisation and corporate regulation if they are to make ‘Aid for Trade’ work for the poor

    From Doha to El Dorado? : the WTO, agricultural liberalisation and the false promise of free markets

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    The trade talks at the Doha Round of the World Trade Organisation have stuttered along since 2001 with seemingly little prospect for conclusion. Nevertheless, the conviction remains that the round should be finished lest significant economic gains be passed over and the long run trading interests of developing countries damaged. In this reading, it is insufficient political will among world leaders that has prevented poor countries from moving towards a fair and free trading environment. By bringing to light the manifest uncertainties that hang over such attempts to instil free market principles on the agricultural economy however, this paper sounds three sceptical notes on the idea that progressive liberalisation through the WTO can deliver a development boon. First, choosing the right path to liberalisation is confounded by the fact that negotiators are unsure of the value of certain concessions and so may deviate down a ‘sub-optimal’ route. Second, the belief that the ‘uneven playing field’ will be ultimately levelled as trade-distorting policies are gradually eroded ignores the persistent renewal of government involvement in agriculture as policy instruments evolve over time. Third, to the extent that liberalisation does occur, its benefits are assumed rather than given. By looking at Brazil, a country expected to be one of the prime beneficiaries of a successful roll-back in agricultural protectionism, it is shown how trade expansion has led to an unequal form of development that has stymied economic opportunities for the poor. Because of these three factors, it is concluded that development through liberalisation remains more an act of ideological faith than a question of willpower. As such, the purpose of the multilateral trading system must be reappraised
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