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Conference on the Moral, Economic, and Social Life of Coffee

A Conference on the Moral, Economic, and Social Life of Coffee
Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (fall 2008)

organized by Robert Thurston, Professor of History, Miami U.
[email protected]

Dates: Friday, October 31-Saturday, November 1, 2008.

Participants are asked to reach Oxford, using the Cincinnati (CVG) or Dayton (DAY)
international airport, one day before the conference begins.

Purpose: To bring together people from business and academia, drawing
from various sectors and levels of the coffee business and from
scholars who study the industry, the drink, and its impact on
societies around the world. To discuss the problems facing coffee
farmers, sustainable production, the environment, and the future of
coffee. To increase public awareness of issues of politics, ecology,
and social justice connected with the industry. To develop materials
for a book that will draw together stories and opinions from many
areas and levels of coffee production, processing, and marketing. To
develop a portal web site for coffee studies.

Audience: General and academic. Miami University, a beautiful campus,
is located an hour from both Cincinnati and Dayton, two hours from
Columbus; Lexington, Kentucky; and Bloomington and Indianapolis,
Indiana. Oxford, Ohio is an hour from both the Cincinnati and Dayton
airports. Announcements of the conference will be placed on listservs
and in academic and trade journals. Anticipated attendance is

Background: Coffee is the second most valuable commodity traded
legally around the world. It has played a crucial role in
globalization since the 17th century, and it is central to the study
of globalization's continuing effects. Grown in more than 50
countries by 20-25 million families, then processed, traded, and sold
by millions of other people. Coffee is an immensely important item in
the world economy. Beginning with English coffee houses in the 1650s,
the drink's impact on western social, cultural, and political life has
been huge. It has played a major role in social upheaval in Latin
America but also in achieving stability in Costa Rica. Coffee has
been a basic factor in bringing profound social and racial change to
various regions of the world, while it has provided an important
source of foreign exchange to many producing countries.

Keynote Speaker: Sidney Mintz, one of the world's foremost
anthropologists, author of Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in
Modern History. Professor Mintz will speak on issues of how and why
consumers "choose" various commodities among all those available to
them. His talk will bring insights from anthropology and history
together and will provide a framework for the conference.

The Conference: Speakers will consider coffee's past and continuing
impact on issues of labor supply and conditions, market fluctuations,
new technology, the environment (including eco-tourism), political
change, and social justice. Bringing people involved in the business,
from farms to roasters to multi-national firms, together with scholars
concerned with many aspects of coffee's impact in past and present
should produce a forum for lively and productive interchange.

Anticipated Results: A book drawn from conference proceedings should
have wide appeal for classroom use and general readers. The organizer
has experience in producing such a volume. The book will present
stories and opinions about what is involved at each level of the
coffee business and present case studies of coffee's social,
political, and environmental impact. Since the point of the
conference is to allow participants to communicate with each other and
the general public about coffee, articles will be jargon-free and
clear. We also plan to create a permanent web site as a portal to
other sites, articles, and bibliographies on coffee.

A nominal charge will be made for attendance, which will cover costs
of the program, lunch on Friday and Saturday, coffee and snacks.

Other participants include:

Kennedy T. K. Gitonga, Research Officer - Economist, Ruiru, Kenya

Stuart McCook, Guelph University, on coffee rust disease

Charlie Kwit, Wittenberg U.

Geoff Watts, Intelligentsia Coffee, on sustainability

Ernest Carman, Café Cristina, Costa Rica, on running a sustainable farm

Ilhem Baghdadli, World Bank

Procter &Gamble rep to be named

Kim Moore, Dir. of Business Development–Coffee and Hot Beverages, TransFair USA

Manoel Correa do Lago, Rio de Janeiro, coffee exporter

Kenneth Davids The Coffee Review

Robert Thurston, Miami U.

Bruce Robbins, Columbia U.

Steven Topik, UC Irvine

Jonathan Morris, U. of Hertfordshire

William Clarence-Smith, School of Oriental and African Studies, U. of London

Posted by David Fahey on February 4, 2008 at 02:41 PM in Academia, Coffee | Permalink