Anthropology | Coffee, Culture, Production & Markets
E626 | 27761 | Tucker


Do you start your day with coffee? Coffee is an integral part of life
for consumers and producers around the world, and it is one of the
world’s most valuable commodities in terms of total trade dollars.
This course will consider the diverse expressions and ramifications of
“coffee culture,” from the farmers who see it as their life, to the
buyers and traders who know it as a living, to the consumers who start
their day with cups of java.  We will explore the historical roots of
coffee production and trade, including its roles in nation-building
and international power relations, and its modern implications for
environmental change, economic justice, and economic development.

Alternatives to dominant coffee production and marketing practices
will be considered, such as Fair Trade coffee, shade-grown coffee, and
organic coffee.  In light of the recent crisis in coffee prices, we
will address the impacts of market volatility on producers,
processors, distributors and consumers. Why do consumers in the United
States see little change in coffee prices while international prices
experience drastic declines? We will place current events in the
context of coffee's volatile history, including the continuing
controversies over coffee and health. The course will be run as a
seminar, and involve a fieldwork dimension in Bloomington’s coffee
shops.  Students will be graded on their participation in class
discussions, fieldwork, a midterm exam, a research paper, and class
presentations.