“Fair Trade is an artisan’s movement” An interview study with handicraft producer organisations affiliated to World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) in the Global South

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: Traditional craftsmanship provides a significant source of income for marginalised groups in many parts of the Global South. Simultaneously, the traditional handicraft is a way to remember and maintain a cultural heritage. However, the ability to survive on traditional craftsmanship has worsened around the world. The Fair Trade movement was created in response to the absence of a safe and just marketplace for marginalized artisans and established trade networks based on social and economic justice, and environmental sustainability, in collaborations with producers in the Global South and consumers in the Global North. This interview study provides an insight into how handicraft producer organisations from five countries in the Global South affiliated to the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) experience the market for traditional handicraft. In the stories of the WFTO members the traditional handicraft is described as ‘having soul’, considering the fact that people are behind it. These persons emphasized the importance of the culture that surrounds the traditional handicraft in their countries and further expressed a gratitude towards their trading partners in the Fair Trade market. However, there are challenges related to the practice of Fair Trade which can be seen in the informants struggle of operating in a surrounding world that is dominated by a neoliberal trading system. The theoretical understanding of the sociality of markets can show how different logics have shaped the actors within the movement over the years. Moreover, the prevailing circumstances concerning the covid-19 pandemic during the conduct of this study might have affected the results, yet, it also shed interesting light on the meaning of the Fair Trade practice for the viability of traditional handicraft.

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