Alyssa Paredes

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Yale U.

Grant number

Gr. 9283

Approve Date

April 18, 2016

Project Title

Paredes, Alyssa, Yale U., New Haven, CT - To aid research on 'Altering Asia's Banana Republic? The Making of an 'Alternative' Supply Chain Along the Pacific Rim,' supervised by Dr. William W. Kelly

Preliminary abstract: Across the Asia-Pacific, nation-states are anxiously anticipating major socio-economic changes brought about by the recently negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership and the 2015 Association for Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement. Where intensifying regional free trade pacts pressure the agricultural sectors to view more and more of the world in terms of monocrop plantation economies, this ethnographic project between Japan and the Philippines explores the making of a supply chain of a non-plantation commodity, the balangon banana. Biological properties that make this wild, highland Cavendish resistant to monocrop-style agriculture profoundly shift the dynamics of its supply chain. These new infrastructural networks offer growers, intermediaries and consumers alternative routes to political engagement and transnational solidarity. Through them, actors seek to alter the Philippines’ trademark as ‘Asia’s Banana Republic,’ and reimagine Japan’s ‘neo-imperialist’ relationship to Southeast Asia. This project adopts the ‘commodity chain’ as a heuristic to track not only infrastructural but also moral geographies along the alternative pathways from harvest, packaging, transport, marketing, distribution through consumption, and back. In describing the dynamic relationship between agro-ecological crop systems, supply chain logistics, and political processes, this research aspires to contribute broadly to economic anthropology and the anthropology of infrastructure in the inter-Asian region.