cover of book

Fair Trade Rebels: Coffee Production and Struggles for Autonomy in Chiapas
by Lindsay Naylor
University of Minnesota Press, 2019
Paper: 978-1-5179-0578-1 | Cloth: 978-1-5179-0577-4
Library of Congress Classification HD9199.M63C476 2019
Dewey Decimal Classification 382.41373097275


Reassessing interpretations of development with a new approach to fair trade

Is fair trade really fair? Who is it for, and who gets to decide? Fair Trade Rebels addresses such questions in a new way by shifting the focus from the abstract concept of fair trade—and whether it is “working”—to the perspectives of small farmers. It examines the everyday experiences of resistance and agricultural practice among the campesinos/as of Chiapas, Mexico, who struggle for dignified livelihoods in self-declared autonomous communities in the highlands, confronting inequalities locally in what is really a global corporate agricultural chain.

Based on extensive fieldwork, Fair Trade Rebels draws on stories from Chiapas that have emerged from the farmers’ interaction with both the fair-trade–certified marketplace and state violence. Here Lindsay Naylor discusses the racialized and historical backdrop of coffee production and rebel autonomy in the highlands, underscores the divergence of movements for fairer trade and the so-called alternative certified market, traces the network of such movements from the highlands and into the United States, and evaluates existing food sovereignty and diverse economic exchanges. 

Putting decolonial thinking in conversation with diverse economies theory, Fair Trade Rebels evaluates fair trade not by the measure of its success or failure but through a unique, place-based approach that expands our understanding of the relationship between fair trade, autonomy, and economic development.

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