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‘Constructing’ Ethical Mineral Supply Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Malawian Fair Trade Rubies

Hilson, Gavin (2014) ‘Constructing’ Ethical Mineral Supply Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Malawian Fair Trade Rubies Development and Change, 45 (1). pp. 53-78.

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Abstract

Over the past decade, sales of Fair Trade agro-products have risen sharply, fuelled by innovative marketing campaigns that use imagery to ‘connect’ Western consumers to impoverished farmers in developing countries. The success of Fair Trade has led to speculation over whether its portfolio could be broadened to include non-agricultural products, a debate which, in recent years, has focused heavily on the precious minerals and stones being extracted by impoverished artisans. A lack of policy oversight, however, has resulted in Fair Trade being interpreted very differently in this context. In the absence of certified internationally-recognized guidelines to consult for assistance with the implementation of Fair Trade mineral schemes, designers have drawn inspiration from a global mining development agenda that has become heavily preoccupied with anti-corruption and traceability. This paper draws on the case of Malawi’s NyalaTM ruby, described as a ‘Fair Trade Gem’ by its supplier, to illustrate how ethical mineral programmes are potentially being misbranded as Fair Trade. Although the scheme delivering NyalaTM ruby to markets is supplying a traceable commodity, in the process helping to alleviate consumers’ concerns about conflict minerals, it seems to be providing very little benefit to poor producers — the primary objective of Fair Trade

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences > Surrey Business School
Authors :
AuthorsEmailORCID
Hilson, GavinUNSPECIFIEDUNSPECIFIED
Date : 9 January 2014
Funders : British Academy
Identification Number : 10.1111/dech.12069
Projects : SG101448
Additional Information : This is the accepted version of the following article: Hilson G 'Constructing' Ethical Mineral Supply Chains in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Case of Malawian Fair Trade Rubies. DEVELOPMENT AND CHANGE 45(1):53-78, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/dech.12069
Depositing User : Gavin Hilson
Date Deposited : 16 Jan 2015 17:24
Last Modified : 22 Oct 2015 20:35
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/805164

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