Solidarity as a development performance and practice in coffee exchanges

Lindsay Naylor

An(other) world is already existing and present across place. Capitalist-style economic development occurs within and alongside multiple ways of knowing and creating ‘livable worlds.’ Moreover, as part of the multiple ontologies and epistemologies of what it means to live well together, people practice various forms of economic exchanges. In this paper, I examine how the performance of solidarity in the exchange of coffee assists with rethinking development and what it means to build dignified livelihoods and livable worlds. By decentering capitalism and considering multiple forms of economic exchange, such as those built through solidarity networks, I argue that not only is ‘another world possible,’ but that it is present and in the continuous and messy process of becoming. Drawing on over a decade of ethnographically informed work with coffee cooperatives in rebel autonomous zones in Chiapas, Mexico and coffee roasters in the U.S. I ask, how do capitalist and more-than-capitalist exchanges both foster and expose the friction in economic development solidarity work? Here, I address development as multiple, rather than other forms as ‘alternative’ as part of the project of destabilizing capitalist hegemony and making visible already existing performances and practices of development that transcend white, western, and Anglophone ways of knowing and being.

Suggested citation

Naylor, Lindsay. 2022. “Solidarity as a Development Performance and Practice in Coffee Exchanges.” Sustainability Science, May.