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Kapfhammer, Wolfgang and Winder, Gordon M. (2021): Slow Food, Shared Values, and Indigenous Empowerment in an Alternative Commodity Chain Linking Brazil and Europe. In: Sociologus, Vol. 70, No. 2: pp. 101-122

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This article explores governance and power relations within the guarana (Paullinia cupana) global commodity chain (GCC) of the Satere-Mawe, an Indigenous group of the Lower Amazon, Brazil. The paper draws on ethnographic work and joint field research in Para, Brazil and pursues an interdisciplinary approach combining economic geography and anthropological interest in ontological diversity. It describes the guarana value chain in commodity chain terms, and discusses issues of narrative, transformation, and power in the community of values associated with the chain. Guarana is a ritual beverage of central importance to Indigenous cosmology and is now a commodity traded within the global Fair Trade network. We found that the commodity chain is the result of not only economically, but also politically motivated Indigenous and European actors. It has a simple organization and is based on inter-personal business relations, with neither retailers nor producers controlling the chain. In this context, diverse actors, including Indigenous and non-Indigenous agents, cooperate in a joint project despite their, at times, differing values. These values are discernable in the narratives and discourses braided around the chain. This paper identifies the values at work and the tensions and dissonances produced as they rub against each other. It argues that, far from making the chain unmanageable, the tensions are creative and help the chain's participants to bridge between Brazil and Europe.

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