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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Transforming Nature Into Value: A Case-Study of the Palm Oil Commodity Chain in Indonesia

  • Author(s): McCollum, John Kenyon
  • Advisor(s): Smith, David A
  • et al.
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License

This extended case study of palm oil production examines its labor and environmental issues in a global perspective through the commodity chain framework. I give a genealogy of scholarship on commodity chains in Chapter 1. Chapter 2 incorporates Bunker’s new historical materialism to explain the global beginnings of local issues. Chapter 3 examines the economic inequalities within palm oil production to answer the empirical problem of whether palm oil is improving the lives of those involved in its production and the theoretical issue of where the bulk of value produced in agricultural commodity chains accumulates. Chapter 4 uses interview data to examine how and where non-governmental organizations target their activism towards the commodity chain and questions their role in commodity production.

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