Publication Date

April 2015

Advisor(s)

Maria Ospina, Ann Wightman

Major

Latin American Studies

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

Since the 1990s, the Colombian coffee industry has seen the emergence of a dynamic specialty coffee sector. The coffee sold in this niche market is distinguished from the mainstream commodity coffee market by its exceptional material, symbolic, and in-person service quality. For the hundreds of thousands of rural citizens engaged in coffee production in Colombia, the specialty sector offers new possibilities of increasing both their profits and their power. This thesis explores the experiences of rural farmers participating in the specialty sector, examining whether the opportunities offered by specialty coffee enable farmers to preserve their rural forms of economic and cultural rationality. By constructing an alternative framework for active engagement with the capitalist world-system, more aligned with the realities of rural life, this thesis will argue that the specialty coffee industry represents a clear departure from the historical exclusion of peasant communities from power.

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