Fieldwork: Fair trade, free trade

To better understand barriers to Fair Trade and the limitations of free trade, Wake Forest anthropology and business students are visiting Chiapas, Mexico, during the University’s spring break March 5-13.

They are enrolled in the class, “Free Trade, Fair Trade:  Independent Entrepreneurs in the Global Market,” taught by Jeanne Simonelli, professor of anthropology, and Betsy Gatewood, professor of entrepreneurship.

Students and their professors gather on a street in Guadalupe

The field-based seminar compares the barriers to market participation experienced by independent entrepreneurs in the United States and developing countries, particularly Mexico.

“Visiting the people of Chiapas will help show us the changes that need to be made to the Free Trade system that rules the world so that small producers can actively and fairly interact in the world market,” said junior anthropology major Ella Douglas.

While in the field, the 13 students hope to learn about how communities work to establish markets for their products and understand the Fair Trade certification process.

In addition to learning from members of cooperatives and family businesses, the group will visit ancient Maya sites and meet with Maya people. Chiapas is the southernmost state in Mexico.

In preparation for the trip, students discussed readings concerning the ideologies of capitalism, socialism, and fair trade.

To view photos, video and reflections on their daily adventures, visit the class blog.

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