Accepted paper:

Transnational economy of resource extraction translated: Moroccan argan oil as global commodity and its local economy

Author:

Bertram Turner (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)

Paper short abstract:

This paper addresses translation efforts of local people in Morocco who are facing the situation that argan oil, their local staple food, has been transformed into a global commodity. Their innovative and creative local way to adapt to the new economic situation is explored.

Paper long abstract:

This paper addresses translation efforts of local people in Morocco facing the situation that argan oil, their local staple food, has been transformed into a global commodity as a niche product that exhibits all necessary requirements to be integrated in the economy of solidarity and equity as a fair-traded, certified and protected eco-organic product. Such transformation, so is argued, is driven forth by the intertwining and co-production of normative and technological strands in the politics of natural resource extraction. This development, I argue, while widely lauded for its beneficial effects on the ground in that it said to combine development goals such as poverty alleviation and the empowerment of the rural woman with nature conservation and a sustainable resource extraction, increasingly excludes some segments of the local population for whom argan previously used to be part of their economic portfolio. With regard to local strategies aimed at creating economic niches in the production of this global niche product for the world market, this paper analyzes how configurations of inventories of knowledge, legal repertoires and technologies have been locally translated in response to the global appropriation of the bio-resource and its product. The innovative and creative local way to adapt to the new economic situation was even more challenged through a perception of crisis attributed to the fact that argan was integrated in the suddenly suffering global economy on the one hand and to the course of events that are usually called the Arab spring on the other hand.

panel P113
Local entrepreneurial responses to global forces: new and alternative enterprise re-configurations in times of crisis and economic hardship (EASA Network for Economic Anthropology)