Moral Infrastructures in the Making of Banana Supply Chains Between the Philippines and Japan


ISGI Seminar hosted by the Institute for the Study of Global Issues, Graduate School of Social Sciences, Hitotsubashi University.

Alyssa Paderes, Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Anthropology, Yale University

Wednesday 10 May, 2017 17:10-19:10

Small meeting room, Sano Shoin Hall, Hitotsubashi University Kunitachi Campus (see here for a map).

Global commodity studies is a flourishing body of literature, and its popularity attests to the appeal of the supply chain construct as a way to analyze globalization. Yet its “follow-the-thing” methodology has made it easy to forget other movements developing around the same commodity chain. For Filipinos living around banana plantations of the greater Davao region in the southern Philippines,there is a real sense of anxiety raised by the invisible capillaries of the banana supply chain. “Unthingy” matter like pesticide traces, illicit transactions of farm inputs are debris of the supply chain that cannot be captured, quantified, or regulated by modern logistics. As such, they require a wholly different set of politics and political actors.

In this presentation, I share my initial reflections on the overlooked distribution networks that course into and branch out of banana supply chains. I divide this into three sections: (a) Toxic Debris, (b) The Limits of “N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorous, Potassium) Mentality,” and (c) Follow the Yellow “Brix” Road. I hope to demonstrate how extra movement into and from the supply chain complicates any clean way of understanding human and environmental costs and benefits of banana trade. Beyond the obvious stakeholders, who (and what) else is paying the price of bananas? What counts as “cost” in the first place?

These preliminary findings are based on 6 months of fieldwork around the multiple banana plantations of Mindanao, representing the first phase of an 18 month-long dissertation project between the Philippines and Japan.

— All welcome, no registration required —