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Title:The accountability of commodities in a global marketplace: the case of Bolivian coca and Tanzanian honey
Authors:Arce, AlbertoISNI
Fisher, Eleanor
Book title:Modernity on a shoestring: dimensions of globalization, consumption and development in Africa and beyond
Editors:Fardon, Richard
Binsbergen, Wim van
Dijk, Rijk van
Geographic term:Tanzania
Abstract:Using two different commodities, Bolivian coca and 'fair trade' honey produced by the Tabora Beekeepers Cooperative Society in Tanzania, the authors analyse issues of accountability and desire in relation to the practices and attributions of value by actors engaged in producing, processing, distributing and consuming the commodities in question. The examples of coca and honey are not intended to be contrastive, but to raise key issues concerning a wider research agenda on development, globalization and consumption. The example of honey from Tanzania indicates how the universality of the fair trade development agenda is translated into practice in a specific situation and illustrates some of the implications it holds for participants in fair trading. 'Desire' as an accountable construction on the part of both producers and consumers acts as an organizing property in commodity networks, cutting across Western attributions of values and the social production of commodities in Third World contexts. In the case of Tanzanian honey, fair trade exchange tends to romanticize the 'distant' location of honey production and simplify the differential uses and interpretations that the international circulation of honey opens up to local producers. The process of making commodities accountable is additionally a means of making their producers accountable to agendas that are complexly related to cultural processes involving Northern consumers. Bibliogr., notes, ref.