Negotiating politics and power: Perspectives on environmental justice from Jamaicas specialty coffee industry

Publicado en The Geographical Journal ( IF 3.384 )

Anne‐Teresa Birthwright

Año de publicación 2022

Inter‐American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Montevideo Uruguay


Inter‐American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI) Montevideo Uruguay

Proyecto IAI-1


The Jamaican specialty coffee industry operates in an ecologically sensitive landscape that is institutionally, politically and socio-economically complex. Birthed under colonial rule, the industry has undergone a confluence of events that have shaped its contemporary organisation and exacerbated deeply rooted institutional and structural conditions. Through the lens of environmental justice, the paper sheds light on the plural claims to justice under changing climatic conditions and reveals the politics of adaptation within the context of market capitalism. Using stakeholder interviews, the paper captures the articulations and manifestations of injustice by exploring the local perceptions of procedural justice and justice as recognition. Through an examination of power and politics, the paper begins by contextualising the pre-existing conditions that shape the disabling environment in which smallholders operate. This includes the neoliberal restructuring of the industry, smallholders' access to low farm gate prices, expensive farm inputs, low-value chain participation, and limited support services. As these conditions are exacerbated by climate change impacts, the paper then discusses the disparity in justice claims between farmers and industry stakeholders surrounding the deployment of suitable climate change adaptation response. This is an area of contestation, as even though smallholders face multiple stressors, industry leaders have continued to operate the island's major coffee-producing spaces as areas where profits can be mined and privileges reinforced. Effectively, the smallholder livelihoods embedded within Jamaica's coffee-producing landscapes have been subjected to asymmetrical structures of power which legitimise whose voices are heard and which adaptation pathway takes precedence, thus generating injustices, nurturing vulnerabilities and stifling agency.