Fairtrade urbanism? The politics of place beyond place in the Bristol fairtrade city campaign

Malpass, Alice; Cloke, Paul; Barnett, Clive and Clarke, Nick (2007). Fairtrade urbanism? The politics of place beyond place in the Bristol fairtrade city campaign. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 31(3) pp. 633–645.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2427.2007.00747.x


Understandings of fairtrade, ethical trading and sustainability often assume a relationship involving disparate placeless consumers being stitched together with place-specific producers in developing world contexts. Using an ethnographic study of the policy-making and political processes of the Bristol Fairtrade City campaign, we suggest ways in which fairtrade consumption can become aligned with place. The campaign was a vehicle for enlisting the ordinary people of Bristol into awareness of and identification with fairtrade issues. Citizens of Bristol were enrolled into a re- imagination of the city involving aspects of what Massey terms the politics of place beyond place. The campaign also enlisted the jurisdictional governance of the local authority, including the introduction of the fairtrade procurement practices. As a result, employees, residents and visitors became fairtrade consumers, knowingly or unknowingly, when visiting the canteens and restaurants of the local authority and other significant sites and institutions in the city. The Fairtrade City campaign can therefore be seen to have deployed ideas of place, fairness and local–global relations as scale frames of mobility through which to embed ethical consumption in place, and to govern consumption at a distance.

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