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    Before 'fair trade': empire, free trade, and the moral economies of food in the modern world

    Trentmann, Frank (2007) Before 'fair trade': empire, free trade, and the moral economies of food in the modern world. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25 (6), pp. 1079-1102. ISSN 1472-3433.

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    The last decade has seen a vibrant debate about the moralities of trade and the possibility of reconnecting consumers and producers in an age of globalisation. Fair trade, in particular, has attracted attention as the source of a new international moral economy. In this paper, I seek to widen the frame of discussion, bringing history, geography, and ethics into closer conversation. Looking beyond a conventional progressive narrative, I retrieve the ambivalent moralities of trade and consumption in the modern period. I highlight the role of empire shopping movements as well as of popular free trade and international distributive justice, putting imperialist consumers as well as liberals back into the picture. I offer a critique of a sequential view of traditional `moral economy' being replaced by a modern demoralised `political economy', which underlies current notions of `remoralising' trade. Modern commerce has generated and been shaped by diverse moralities of consumption. Greater attention to the diverse social and ideological lineages of phenomena like fair trade will be useful to scholars reflecting on caring at a distance today.


    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Historical Studies
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2017 10:25
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:32


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