Anthropological Considerations of Production, Exchange, Vending and Tourism: Volume 37

Cover of Anthropological Considerations of Production, Exchange, Vending and Tourism
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Table of contents

(14 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-xiv
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Part I Production

Purpose

This longitudinally informed ethnographic work explores the interlocking socioeconomic and cultural roles, changes as well as effects of home-brewed alcoholic beverages in Maragoli society of western Kenya. The informants’ emic perspectives enhance existing knowledge and understanding of the commodification of home-brewing of alcohol. The participants’ experientially anchored views provide refined insights into how home-brews are influenced by the disintegration of livelihoods and women brewers’ need to earn money independently from men’s income to meet their financial needs. This work also documents alcohol-related maladaptive aspects including men’s misappropriation of funds, malnutrition, domestic violence, sexual promiscuity, rape, prostitution, and disposal of agricultural inputs and produce to obtain money to buy brews.

Methodology/approach

This study used a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods to enhance data quality, validity, reliability, and deep learning of the dynamics and ramifications of home-brewing of alcoholic products.

Findings

This study’s empirical results show Maragoli brewers’ ingenuity in their risk-aversive efforts to: (1) optimize positive benefits and (2) reduce the unintended maladaptive consequences of home-brews.

Practical implications

This work demonstrates that brewers are not passive victims of their productive resource constraints. They exercise ingenuity in producing and selling alcoholic beverages to earn a living even though this venture generates unintended harmful outcomes. This calls for interventions by governmental arms, nongovernmental organizations, and community-based support networks to empower brewers and their clientele to venture into alternative enterprises and consumption of less harmful refreshments. Safety-nets should also be in place to minimize vulnerability and social fragmentation attributable to home-brewed alcohol.

Purpose

This chapter examines changes in smallholder agriculture in terms of processes of de-agrarianization in a rapidly changing regional economy of Costa Rica long characterized by small-scale commercial coffee farming.

Methodology

The study is based on multiple periods (1990–1991, 1993, 2006, 2010–2012) of ethnographic research on household economic strategies among farming families in two districts in the canton of Pérez Zeledón, Costa Rica.

Findings

Though occupational multiplicity and non-farm-based livelihoods are on the rise, smallholder agriculture continues to play a substantial role in the livelihood strategies of both young and old and in the regional economy, not in spite of these trends, but because an expanding business sector and an increase in non-farm employment opportunities are creating a demand for agricultural produce and providing new opportunities for smallholders to diversify agricultural production, stabilize their incomes and maintain a significant presence in the regional economy. Specific historic conditions and state policies have been important factors in shaping rural economic change, livelihood strategies and smallholder agriculture in this region.

Research limitations

Sample sizes are relatively small and some data on children’s economic activities were obtained second hand from siblings and/or parents.

Implications

This research has implications for policy makers, planners and social activists interested in agrarian change.

Originality/value

This research provides an important longitudinal lens on the economic strategies of farming households, processes of de-agrarianization and the persistence of small-scale family farmers in today’s world.

Purpose

This chapter is about the theories explaining the transition from foraging to farming. It aims to establish which links exist between the traditional theories – based on push/pull models – and the micro-founded approaches developed since the 1980s. More precisely, it asks how the latter may contribute, as the former did, to defining a macro-narrative of the transition to farming.

Methodology/approach

While they were providing a global narrative of the Neolithic revolution, the push and pull models have been progressively dismissed. Recent research is diverse, but it is all based upon human behaviour or micro-founded. We critically examine three of these approaches which focus either on foraging behaviour, or on the initial domestication of plants and animals, or on the evolution of social institutions related to ownership.

Findings

We demonstrate that these recent micro-founded approaches only provide a partial vision of the transition to farming. Despite this limit, they conciliate push and pull explanations in a single framework. Moreover, they confirm a conclusion held by tenants of pull models: the transition to farming is more likely to have occurred in a resource-rich environment such as the one associated with complex hunter-gatherers. Some archaeological evidence from the Levant is provided to support our claim.

Value

This research chapter provides a useful overview of the differing approaches to the behavioural, environmental and economic factors that led to the shift to farming from foraging. Its value lies in the way it presents and evaluates differing positions derived from differing scales of analysis and types of evidence.

Part II Exchange

Purpose

Relationships between long-distance exchange, especially of luxury goods, and the centralization of political power represent a fundamental dimension of political and economic organization. Precolumbian American societies, outside familiar European contexts that have shaped analytical perspectives, provide a broadened comparative field with the potential for more nuanced analysis.

Methodology/approach

Analysis focuses on four cases that vary in political centralization, institutional complexity, and geographic scale: Ulúa societies without political centralization; small Maya states; Aztec; and Inka empires. Emphasis on relationships between principals and agents highlights the potential of social practices to perform the functions often associated with state institutions

Findings

In the Ulúa region, commerce flourished in the absence of states and their concomitants. The very wealth of Ulúa societies and the unusually broad dispersion of prosperity across social segments impeded the development of states by limiting the ability of local lords to intensify their status and convert it to political power. Intensity of market activity and long-distance exchange does not correlate well with the florescence of states. Less centralized and non-centralized political systems may in fact facilitate mercantile activity (or impede it less) in comparison with states.

Originality/value

These cases frame a useful perspective on the organizational configuration of long-distance trade. Informal social mechanisms and practices can be an alternative to state institutions in structuring complex economic relations. The implications for understanding trajectories of societal change are clear: the development of states and centralized political organization is not a prerequisite for robust long-distance commerce.

Purpose

This project explores tensions at the heart of the fair-trade organization Ten Thousand Villages. I investigate the ways in which this organization attempts to balance concerns of North American staff and volunteers, to care for artisans abroad, and to incorporate expansion plans in the face of challenges raised by the recession.

Methodology/approach

This chapter draws on fieldwork with stores in Toronto (2011–2012) and ongoing fieldwork (summer 2014 and 2015) with the flagship store in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.

Findings

Members express continuing tension between the organization’s founding Mennonite values and the more recent orientation chosen by leadership, to compete successfully in “regular” retail space against non-fair-trade brands. Store staff and volunteers perceive Villages’ buying practices, meant to provide “fairness” to producers in the developing world, as somewhat inconsistent with the treatment of North American store employees. Corporate leadership is mainly focused on ameliorating poverty abroad, rather than framing the organization’s work in a broader social justice context, which store staff and volunteers expect.

Originality/value

At a time of increasing dialogue about alternative value systems that expand notions of economic worth, the fair-trade movement offers a useful model for one attempt to work within the market system to ameliorate its damages. Understanding how one organization negotiates its own competing value systems can provide useful perspective on other revaluation projects.

Purpose

The purpose of this chapter is to show the multi-faceted nature of shopping behavior at North Market and to develop the concept of productive leisure as a way of examining and reframing Daniel Miller’s Theory of Shopping.

Methodology/approach

This chapter utilizes Daniel Miller’s Theory of Shopping as a starting point to understand the dimensions of shopping at North Market. It draws upon survey data collected by North Market, as well as participant observations and informal interviews conducted by the authors.

Findings

Much of the shopping at the market goes beyond simple provisioning, thrift, and treats, and instead fits into a hybrid category we call “productive leisure.” Productive leisure occurs when individuals complete productive tasks during their leisure time. It maximizes thrift-time by completing productive tasks during leisure and in response to or in connection with finding a reward (treat). In the case of shoppers at North Market, many customers are using their leisure time to provision.

Originality/value

This chapter presents a new way of thinking about shopping at public markets and could potentially serve to help public markets redefine their role in local food systems and in the greater community. More broadly, this chapter provides a unique insight into how and why people use public markets.

Purpose

This chapter contributes to drawing Melanesian ethnography out of the exoticizing interest for gift exchange and demand-sharing. Furthermore, it provides an analytical perspective from which it is possible to conceptualize the manipulation of gift and commodity logics as mutually compatible frameworks. Rather than seeing them as contradictory, this perspective enables the theorization of shared calculative agencies that are becoming increasingly common in contemporary Melanesia.

Methodology/approach

The chapter draws on 13 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Gilbert Camp, a peri-urban settlement on the outskirts of Honiara, Solomon Islands with a focus on the domestic moral economy of its inhabitants.

Findings

The people of Gilbert Camp are confronting a difficult economic and moral dilemma. On the one hand, they are at constant risk of financial failure because of their general conditions of scarcity. On the other, they face the prospect of disrupting some of their much-valued social relationships because such scarcity prevents them from fulfilling their cultural obligations. In order to avoid both risks, they make use of their financial competence and cultural creativity to set up strategies that save them money and preserve these relationships. Situated at the interface between kinship and market values, these strategies contribute to achieving the kind of ‘good’ life that they see as the correct balance between financial prosperity and morality.

Originality/value

Current negotiations over the meaning of buying, selling and taking are changing the values of contemporary sociality in Honiara, Port Vila, and other Melanesian cities. Tradestores simultaneously supply households with food and money, create a sense of sharing, and limit the demand-sharing and the taking of wantoks. Hence they create the conditions for the resolution of tensions over the incompatibility of values of kinship and market that confront the inhabitants of Melanesian cities. Household tradestores thus constitute a major site of these negotiations, and they provide a unique vantage point from which to look at the moral and economic processes that are leading to the future identity of urban Melanesia.

Part III Vending

Purpose

Today’s China has striven to exclude street vendors through political campaigns such as “National Sanitary City” and “National Civilized City.” Such campaigns pursue modernity and beautiful urban spaces by deeming street vendors to be disorderly, unsanitary, and obsolete. Taking a single Chinese city as a case study, this research analyzes why and how local bureaucratic apparatuses apply rapidly-changing and ambiguous political treatment to street vendors. This research also examines street vendors’ struggles and coping strategies with these ever-changing politics.

Methodology/approach

The data for this study were obtained during a total of ten months of fieldwork, beginning in 2013 and ending in 2016. In-depth interviews were conducted with fifty-one street vendors and six government officials; additionally, the researcher consulted newspaper reports, archives, and relevant official publications.

Findings

First, regarding the governance of street vendors, the local administration has shifted their stance between two distinct patterns – suppression and tolerance – depending on the timing of certain political campaigns. Second, the corruption and laziness of government officials has provided niches for the revival of street vending after campaigns are over, though with limitations. Third, street vendors in China tend to be passive recipients of government suppression, unable to forge effective resistance because of a lack of strong leadership and general organization.

Originality/value

This research will add to the general understanding of the government-vendor relationship by revealing the complexity, uncertainty, and flexibility inherent in interactions between these two groups.

Purpose

To summarize the shocks and stresses that peasants in Mexico have been subjected to since the 1940s and to examine the responses of sons of peasants working as semi-informal beach vendors in Cabo San Lucas as to what they define as the worst problems of the peasantry in their hometowns.

Methodology/approach

This chapter offers an analysis of the responses of 32 sons of peasants interviewed on Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas in October of 2012 partially as concerns whether they would like to be peasants themselves and as to what they define as the worst problems of the peasantry in their hometowns.

Findings

Twenty-five of the thirty-two vendors interviewed would be happy to be peasants. According to all of the vendors, the overwhelming problems facing the peasantry were primarily droughts or floods (related to climate change) and lack of government aid (related to neoliberalization).

Social implications

The peasantry in Mexico is being and has been marginalized both by a number of stresses and shocks, currently identified by some of those at risk as factors related to climate change and neoliberalization.

Part IV Tourism

Purpose

This chapter examines how the everyday interactions that are fostered with the circulation of debt impact the socioeconomic order in which they operate. Employing the theoretical framework of “circuits of commerce,” scholars have examined how social relations and economic activities intertwine, are negotiated and transformed through the circulation of debt. The focus of such studies has been on the motives of actors, such as the desire for relationship-making, and structural conditions, like the inaccessibility of formal institution, that necessitate the emergence of debt-centered circuits of commerce (Hampton, 2003; Heslop, 2016; James, 2014). However, such circuits also have broader impacts and affect socially pervasive moral evaluations and work cultures (Ho, 2009; Zelizer, 2011). Building on these findings, I examine commission-based alliances among showroom owners and tour guides in Agra’s tourism market to understand how “bad debt” between them shapes Agra’s local tourism economy.

Methodology/approach

This chapter is based on ethnographic research conducted in 2012–2013 with Agra’s tourism entrepreneurs, like showroom owners, tour guides, and convincers.

Findings

Entrepreneurs’ everyday practices around the circulation of debt impact how tourism in Agra is perceived and conducted. Although debt is initiated to mitigate uncertainty of getting clientele, its circulation exacerbates that very uncertainty.

Originality/value

This chapter contributes to the theory of economic practice, highlighting how economic actors, through their everyday practices, shape the macro-structure of the economic system in which they operate.

Purpose

Local adaptations to economic blight and overreliance on the tourism industry demonstrate significant aspects of resilience and risk among Caribbean populations. Those individuals who choose sex tourism as a way to benefit from its increasing revenue demonstrate resilience through their adaptations to shifts in the local and national economies, including national debt, expansion of the all-inclusive hotel industry, and seasonal variations in tourist arrivals. Based on ethnographic research conducted in Negril, Jamaica, I argue that the very activities of “hustling” and sex work that illustrate local men’s resilience are the same practices that put their sexual health at risk.

Methodology/approach

This research contextualizes the practice of female sex tourism using the anthropology of tourism, gender and sexuality studies, and the anthropology of HIV/AIDS with a focus on the Caribbean region. This work is based on a project that entailed nine months of fieldwork in 2010–2011 in Negril where I conducted ethnographic observations, life history interviews with three men who sell sex, and 54 semi-structured interviews.

Findings

Men who sell sex to women tourists demonstrate resilience in the face of economic shifts and changing cultural norms. These men are also, however, exposed to risk through their sexual activities and health seeking behaviors.

Research implications

In order for the issues of STI/HIV risk to be adequately addressed among this population, effective public health efforts must prioritize health over tourism revenue and utilize anthropological approaches to explore the health costs of the tourist dollar.

About the Authors

Pages 275-279
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Index

Pages 281-288
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Cover of Anthropological Considerations of Production, Exchange, Vending and Tourism
DOI
10.1108/S0190-1281201737
Publication date
2017-08-10
Book series
Research in Economic Anthropology
Editor
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78743-195-9
eISBN
978-1-78743-194-2
Book series ISSN
0190-1281