consumers around the world. She explains the social lives of the people who produce coffee, and those who process, distribute, market, and consume it. West describes that the Gimi peoples, who grow coffee in Papua New Guinea's highlands, are eager to expand their business and social relationships with the
buyers who come to their highland villages, with the people working in Goroka, (where much of Papua New Guinea's coffee is processed); at the port of Lae (where it is exported) and in Hamburg, Sydney, and London (where it is distributed and consumed). This rich social world is disrupted by neoliberal development strategies, which impose regulatory regimes of governmentality that are often contradictory to Melanesian ways of being in, and relating to, the world. The Gimi people are misrepresented in the specialty coffee market, that creates and uses images of primitivity and poverty to sell coffee. By implying that the backwardness" of Papua New Guineans impedes economic development, these images obscure the structural relations and global political economy that actually cause poverty in Papua New Guinea. As Page describes through her ethnography, she examines, "commodities as meaning bearers and social connectors
across the commodity ecumene for coffee...how neoliberalization needs for nature to be a commodity" (p. 31).
This book was a great reader, West is highly successful in providing a detailed and revealing ethnography and answering many questions. Her analysis of the creation of a primitive view of Papua New Guinea and the marketing nuances surrounding selling coffee are insightful. Further, I also like the way she
provides a detailed examination of the certification of coffee primarily focusing on the intricacies of Fair Trade and Organic certification. I liked her description of how marketing viewpoints such as Mr. Nebraska’s (Chapter 2) impact coffee consumers in countries such as Germany, England, Australia and the United
States. As a devoted (did not want to call myself addicted) coffee drinker West's description really challenged my ethical values. Probably because of that, this book appealed more to me than the other, even though it constantly reminded me of Tsing's conception of universalism.
1. West describes the creation of a primitive view, if we apply Tsing's conception of universalism, can we say that West's conception of the creation of a primitive image is an example of how universals are
2. West does an excellent job of framing the role of the anthropologist today and addressing the misconceptions about and changes in anthropology in recent decades (p. 181). Her conversation and interviews with the expatriates she claims shows new areas that were previously not studied by
Anthropologists. I would like to know what you all think about the section on the expatriates' critique of the local people. Can we explain it with Tsing's conception of scales?
West, P. (2012). From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea. Duke University Press Books.