(Goldsmiths, University of London)
Paper short abstract:
Following the micro-scenes constituted along the trail forged by a pair of flip-flop sandals from Kuwaiti oil fields to a rubbish dump in Addis Ababa, this paper ponders alternative versions of globalization from those with which we are familiar.
Paper long abstract:
This paper explores globalization from some of the more offbeat the small places in which it is constituted. It is based on an empirical study which follows the trail drawn by a pair of plastic flip-flop sandals from the oil fields of Kuwait and the spine of hydrocarbon economies, to petrochemical factories in Korea making plastic granules, to the Chinese factories in which they are manufactured, and on to their most important emerging market, in urban Ethiopia, from where they find their way to the city's landfill site. Along this insignificant back-road, which threads through the small places in which lives are lived, we glimpse another version of globalization from the one commonly proffered by globalization theorists. These small locales along the trail disrupt, and reconfigure from inside the logics of travel on the journeys of everyday life, what globalization might be. Globalization from this vantage point is more precarious, fragile, shifting and micro-context contingent that it at first appears.
Small places, large issues: thinking through anthropological conundrums