Markets and Market Liberalization: Ethnographic Reflections: Volume 24


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

The introduction to this volume will be shorter than is usual for the Research in Economic Anthropology book series because of the time we had to spend during the past few months preparing for an editorial transition. The effort has paid off. Professor Donald Wood (Akita University, Japan) will be the new senior editor of the series beginning with Volume 25.

The export of contract labor as a strategy for stimulating domestic market conditions is a primary feature of Philippine economic policy. Since the 1970s, millions of Filipinos have responded to slow economic growth at home by taking advantage of non-permanent job opportunities abroad. This paper investigates how the efforts and earnings of overseas contract workers (OCWs) affect their communities and households of origin. Specifically, it considers the degree to which Filipino households depend on cash remittances as an important source of income and how household revenues are used by contract workers and their kin in the local context. The study examines the experience of approximately 100 demographically diverse households in San Fernando City, La Union.

Economic liberalization in the countries of the former Soviet Union in the late 1980s provoked a spontaneous explosion of entrepreneurial activities and small trade that lead to an expansion of local marketplaces – the bazaars. This study locates the bazaar within the transition to a market economy. The discussion is guided by questions addressed in social theory and ethnographic studies of the marketplace. How “bizarre” is the post-Soviet bazaar? Does it resist the transition to a market economy or is it a conduit of emerging markets? Ethnographic data for this study stems from the bazaar in Zarya Vostoka situated at the outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan. This bazaar is a remarkable example of post-Soviet transformation from a small site of market exchange (the barakholka) to a profitable commercial enterprise. Contrary to the scholarly arguments that insist on a conceptual difference between the marketplace and true markets, this study argues that this bazaar is a dynamic enterprise and an integral part of emerging markets in post-Soviet Kazakhstan.

The oil and gas industry has developed in south Louisiana over the last hundred years, first in the salt domes and coastal marshes, then out onto the Outer Continental Shelf, and most recently in the deep and ultradeep waters off the shelf. Communities such as New Iberia and Morgan City have grown with the cyclical industry, experiencing prosperous upturns and difficult downturns. Many of the forces these communities have to contend with are outside their control, including the effects of globalization and corporate restructuring common to advanced capitalism. This paper provides an overview of communities and capitalism in south Louisiana.

The relationship between the offshore oil and gas industry and southern Louisiana has been one of ongoing, mutual adaptation. The industry has long been cyclical, responding to price changes, corporate decisions, and federal and state policies. Today, however, the industry offers little guarantee of employment, difficult terms of advancement, and, in general, an uncertain future. Many of the young men and women of the communities of southern Louisiana are looking elsewhere for work. As the local labor sources diminish, companies seek out new labor supplies, including workers from outside the region and from other parts of the world. This paper discusses some of the processes that corroded the unique relationship between the region, its people, and this industry.

In Louisiana's coastal communities with traditions of heavy dependence on the oil industry, cycles of industrial uncertainty have become routine, eliciting a set of coping responses from local government and community institutions. However, recent industrial restructuring within the context of globalization, accompanied by shifts in the climate of federal and state policy, have significantly disrupted traditional support mechanisms and threatened their survival. This article explores the realities that two South Louisiana communities impacted by the offshore oil industry face at the close of the 20th century, with a focus on health service institutions. It also explores community efforts in managing local housing and workforce preparation issues.

Despite being the standard against which all other offshore work sites are compared, the male-dominated work culture of the Gulf of Mexico has received little attention from social scientists. Drawing on the literature on women and work in the United States, on women in the U.S. South, in the military, and in the oil field, and on interviews with hundreds of individuals this paper explores the roles of women in the development and maintenance of the offshore oil and gas industry in southern Louisiana.

The marketing of neoliberalism in Chile has been premised on a sanitized view of history, erasure of collective memory, and erroneous claims of reason. This article examines neo-liberalism in Chile from the perspective of La Victoria, a working-class Santiago población, with a rich history of activism. The author shows how residents have been impacted by both economic policies and state violence, and how they have contested dominant ideology, neoliberal practices, and their problematic perspectives on time, memory, and reason. Victorianos reject collective amnesia and bring a moral imperative grounded in social justice to bear in constructing an alternative common sense.

In the 1970s, a materialist-feminist academy coalesced around the project to isolate and theorize the links between housework – chores women undertake for their households – and women's inequality across all their labor processes. This paper revisits the domestic labor debate at a time when there has never been more tension between women's work in social production and capitalist production. Based on fieldwork conducted in the northern Morelos highland community of Tepoztlán between 1993 and 1998, I disaggregate the performance of domestic labor in Tepoztlán in the time of globalization from a gendered labor process standpoint.

Starting from the middle of the 1990s, different initiatives linked to an “economy of solidarity” trend have emerged in the province of Quebec. Some of them, like the fair trade movement, seek to short-circuit global commodity chains; others, such as urban collective gardening and local exchange trading systems, rely almost entirely on local resources and contribute to local provisioning. Using empirical material from a study conducted in Quebec between 2001 and 2004, this article seeks to contribute to the understanding of marginal socioeconomic systems and practices in the context of globalization, anti-globalization, and alter-globalization movements.

Reforms of the Vietnamese economy have been widely credited for stabilizing the value of the state-issued currency in the marketplace. Nevertheless, how people evaluate the Vietnamese dong as a symbolic form can be read as a symptom of shifting economic and political forces, above all in Ho Chi Minh City, a city associated with commerce. Through three ethnographic cases – the introduction of “big money,” the scarcity of “new money” in 2002, and the campaign to build Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), this paper analyzes the contentious politics around symbolic exchange that shape confidence in Vietnamese currency.

This paper explores the economic character of relations between marabouts (Muslim holy persons) and followers in Niger. In particular, it uses the blurred edges between gifts and commodities to contrast the (oft-divergent) modalities with which marabouts and followers conceptualize knowledge. Across Francophone West Africa, marabouts have historically depended largely on gift economies for their livelihood. Yet, followers are increasingly inclined to conceptualize the knowledge transmitted by marabouts as a commodity rather than as a gift. These developments suggest a growing tendency to view social relations with marabouts in terms of isolated transactions more so than continuing personal connections framed by enduring moral obligations.

In analyzing the state's political economic management of ethnic diversity in Trinidad, with specific reference to the case of the indigenous Santa Rosa Carib Community, the author sets forth an outline of the “political economy of tradition”: (1) the politics and economics of the state associating economic values with particular cultural representations and (2) legislated recognition and financial rewards for groups engaged in public cultural display. How the Caribs themselves manage this process, and the contradictions introduced by forms of state sponsorship that led the Caribs to become incorporated as a limited liability company, are also issues central to this study.

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Book series
Research in Economic Anthropology
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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