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Accepted Paper:

Elena Sischarenco (University of Fribourg)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyses ethnographically how businesses in Northern Italy find strategies to solve the logistical problems of recent resource shortages. Changing supply chains or rethinking material life cycles are addressed by adapting social relations and adjusting good practices.

Paper long abstract:

Covid 19, and recently the war in Ukraine, have shown the fragility of our global interdependence, with shortages of goods and raw materials never expected before. This period brings businesses to think about changes in their way of working and making use of resources. It also leads to a reconsideration of their supply chains, and to the local production of certain components no longer available on the global market.

In this paper, I address resource shortage and logistical challenges by drawing on different fieldwork experiences inside businesses in the Northern part of Italy. Firstly, based on ethnographic fieldwork in manufacturing companies in Emilia, I analyse how businesses try to be resilient and face up shortages through social relations and good practices. I especially investigate the relations they entertain with their local providers and clients, as well as with businesses from outside this area. Secondly, based on observations from ongoing fieldwork in the construction and demolition industry in Lombardy, I engage with the logistics and life cycle of construction materials, the ways in which they are being recycled, reused, or thrown away. A more circular supply chain is often difficult to implement. Energetic standards to meet often complicate the situation, and the effect of environmental policies and state subsidies push the construction sector but aggravates the situation of the scarcity of materials.

How can we use this crisis to rethink material resources and the reorganisation of work and value chains? I emphasize good practices, difficulties on the ground, and future possibilities.

Panel P006a
Logistical Transformations: Supply Chains and the Politics of Circulation I
  Session 1 Wednesday 27 July, 2022, -