Fairtrade Banana versus Dollar Banana: A study of a neo-colonial relationship in Costa Rica

2017-04-23 2

Layla Zaglul // International Development // Wednesday 26th April 2017 // 1-3pm // Arts C133

Fairtrade advertising campaigns make a promise to the consumers: if they buy this product, they are assuring that the people who make that product are getting fair wages and working in fair conditions: Is this really the case? This study will provide a valuable analysis of contrasting models crucial to the discussion of whether or not the Fairtrade movement is truly able to effect change to the current market system through trade. The Fairtrade movement was established as a reaction against the deregulation advocated by neo-liberal policies with the purpose of creating a new egalitarian commodity network (Raynolds, 200; Moberg and Lyon, 2010). The Costa Rican banana industry is under the Dollar Banana System, which has always been characterised by free trade policies and by the power of transnational corporations (Raynolds and Murray 2002).The lecture will focus on a chapter of the thesis titled ‘Labour Conditions’, which describes how in terms of contracts, payment, working hours and Unions –or workers’ organizations- Fairtrade does not necessarily improve the conditions of the workers. The research is founded on an ethnographic study on two farms – one Fairtrade certified and one conventional farm – located in the South Pacific region of Costa Rica. This study compares the conditions in which the two farms operate in terms of labour regimes; the workers’ notions of fairness and meaning of labour. The thesis analyses the potential Fairtrade has in transforming the neo colonial dynamics in the banana trade in Costa Rica


Layla Zaglul is a third year PhD student in International Development. She holds a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Costa Rica. After working for several years in Costa Rica she moved to the UK to undertake her MA in Anthropology of Development at SOAS, University of London. Her MA dissertation, explored the relationship between the consumption of Fairtrade bananas in the UK and its production in Costa Rica. Building on her MA, the PhD research is a comparative study of two banana farms in Costa Rica, one Fairtrade certified and one conventional.

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