PERSISTENT COMMUNITIES: ENTANGLED LANDSCAPES OF AGRICULTURE, ENVIRONMENT, AND FAIRTRADE DEVELOPMENT IN ST. LUCIA Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
Creator
  • O'Connell, Caela
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
Abstract
  • This dissertation offers a multi-sited study of the social, economic, and environmental practices of banana farming communities in Saint Lucia at a time when banana farmers are navigating changing global markets, climate change, disasters, and shifts in domestic economics and cultural practices. It investigates the practice and sustainability of Fairtrade as an alternative model of economic and social development and environmental conservation in the midst of successive crises: economic recession, drought, extreme weather, and a plague of Black Sigatoka disease. Working from a relational framework, I integrate the geography and ecology of the island with the history, culture, and political economy of St. Lucia's banana farming communities to illustrate the ways in which the vulnerability of agrarian populations and natural environment are rooted in ongoing patterns of land tenure and use, exploitative sociopolitical networks, environmental degradation and global economic policies. Through exploring the cultural practices of banana production, Fairtrade, environmental conservation policy, and rural life in St. Lucia this dissertation offers a critique of the Fairtrade model from the perspective of St. Lucian farmers. In St. Lucia, the contemporary Fairtrade model has layered over existing inequalities and socio-ecological processes while producing an ineffective niche market and a globalized audit and certification system that have intensified hierarchy and scrutiny within St. Lucian industry stakeholders. This most recent chapter in the St. Lucian banana industry is underscored by the presence of Fairtrade, but it has not been defined by it. The exceptional complexity and instability of life in St. Lucia for banana farmers as farmers respond to a series of consecutive and linked crises as they persist through extreme weather events and agricultural plague. The difficulties farmers face in recovering highlight the interrelated and plural dynamics involved in agricultural production, environmental conservation, and adaptation to disasters and climate change with which farmers in the 21st century must cope. This dissertation complicates assumptions among sustainable development studies by documenting the ways Fairtrade is not promoting empowered or sustainable production for St. Lucian farmers while documenting agrarian life during a time of intense sociopolitical and environmental change.
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  • In Copyright
Advisor
  • Escobar, Arturo
  • Slocum, Karla
  • Osmond, Deanna
  • Scarry, C. Margaret
  • Colloredo-Mansfeld, Rudi
Degree
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2014
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Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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  • This item is restricted from public view for 2 years after publication.
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