Abstract: Global commodity chains are one lens anthropologists use to examine the dynamic entanglements within human social relations that exist in a highly monetized world, where worth is often determined by a set of cultural conversations founded on a clear stress on the principles of market value. Studies within political economy, anthropology, and cultural theory continue to counter the taken-for-granted narrative of economic calculability to uncover the seemingly hidden aspects of the commodity and its value. Still, the constructed value is often legitimized via particular commodity discourses.

This panel asks participants to focus specifically on commodity discourses that are deployed by actors to legitimize a particular value for an object, people, or institution. From billboards to social media, to pilgrimages and temples, to supermarkets, bazaars and traders, to the epistemological foundations of certain industries – these discourses can be found in a myriad of places. Today’s environmental, political, and economic climates shape the discourses we find being pushed forth under such banners as ethical, green, sustainable, socially conscious, democratic, fair trade, organic, pure and authentic. These commodity discourses often both standardize and differentiate objects via a number of taxonomies all in a singular moment, constructing our social worlds. This session aims to address discourses at different points of a commodity’s social life in a variety of global locations.


Panel 1

  • The Discourse of Craft and the Production of Value: Studying the Craft Beer Community
    Wesley R. Shumar – Drexel University
  • Mining Discourses of Preciousness: Production, Circulation, and Valuation of Gemstone from Peshawar
    Ping-hsiu, Alice Lin – The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Legitimizing Commodities, Legitimizing Values: Discourses of Buddhism, Organics, & Social Enterprises
    Jason WM Ellsworth – Dalhousie University
  • Producing Authenticity: Transnational Aesthetic Practices in the Los Angeles Beauty Market
    Hareem Khan – University of California at Santa Barbara
  • Transcending the Profit Motive in the Global Halal Industry
    Schuyler Marquez – New York University, Department of Anthropology

Panel 2

  • Navigating Value and Global Taste in Thailand’s Tourist Cooking Schools
    Mary-Beth Mills – Colby College
  • Alternative Health Commodities and the Discourse of Trust in India
    Venera R. Khalikova – Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Designing Kimchi: Desire, Imagination, and Nationality in Product Design
    Heangjin Park – University of Chicago
  • Disruptive Garb: Legitimizing Sikh Values, Claiming Authority & Commodifying the Khalsa
    Zabeen Khamisa
  • Plus-Sized Japan: Shifting Body Ideals and Tokyo’s Growing Potchari Fashion Market
    Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson – Washington State University