Lindsay Naylor’s recently published book Fair Trade Rebels: Coffee Production and Struggles for Autonomy in Chiapas focuses on the everyday experiences of people who self-identify as peasants (as campesinos and campesinas) and engage in multiple agricultural strategies to maintain their livelihoods as subsistence cultivators while simultaneously engaging in the 500-year struggle of an Indigenous people against oppression.
Fair Trade Rebels examines how the campesinos/as have harnessed the fair trade marketplace as part of their struggle for autonomy, a struggle which involves renegotiating economic and state relations through cooperative production and global networking.
Naylor says that it was this coincidence of local and global forces that first brought her to the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico and allowed her to explore the role that fair trade plays in the lives of actors who are participating in a social movement by declaring autonomy from the state and deploying their production practices as sites of resistance.
Naylor adds, “I am not asking if fair trade works, but instead I ask how it is understood and practised in the context of resistance.”
Against the two predominant and conflicting representations of fair trade as the pathway to development or as part of the inexorable spread of capitalist relations, Naylor’s book shows how in the case of campesinos/as in Chiapas, fair trade is just one component of a diverse livelihood strategy and a larger political struggle.
Naylor is a member of the Community Economies Institute and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences at the University of Delaware; Fair Trade Rebels is the fourth book published in Minnesota University Press’s Diverse Economies and Livable Worlds book series.