Fair trade: resistance to and collusion with the free market

Date: November 10, 2014
Location: College Park, MD

Optimal’s Research Analyst Kelsye Turner will be giving a brown bag presentation on fair trade at noon on November 12, 2014. Fair trade empowers the individual consumer to choose a transparent supply chain and ethical business practices in an attempt to remedy poor working conditions and overwhelming poverty. This thesis, based on ethnographic research conducted at Chicago Fair Trade (CFT), a fair trade advocacy nonprofit and small business network, analyzes the discourses and practices surrounding fair trade commodities. Ms. Turner begins by placing CFT within the larger historical lineage of fair trade, as it originated post-World War II and transformed in the 1980s with the rise of neoliberalism. Ms. Turner conducted research on fair trade promoters for her undergraduate honors thesis in anthropology and international studies at the University of Chicago. The thesis was advised by professors Leora Auslander and William Mazzarella, and was funded by the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship. Ms. Turner has previously presented at the following conferences: Undergraduate Research Symposium, Washington University, St. Louis in October 2012; Bouchet Conference, Yale University in April 2012; Mellon Mays Midwest Regional Conference, Oberlin College in October 2013; and Mellon Mays South Africa Program, University of Cape Town in January 2014. Ms. Turner received a B.A. in anthropology and international studies from the University of Chicago in May 2014.