Editors’ Introduction to the "Coke Complex"

Essay Excerpt

In “Labor and Human Rights: ‘The Real Thing’ in Colombia” (Transforming Anthropology 13[2]:110–115), Lesley Gill documented the record in Colombia of violent antitrade unionism, its backdrop of neoliberal restructuring, and the growing power of paramilitary forces in these relations. In early 2006, the American Anthropological Association’s Labor Relations Commission (Louise Lamphere, Lesley Gill, Bill Mitchell, Rob O’Brien, Paul Durrenberger, Polly Strong, and Lucille Horn) wrote to the AAA Executive Board, calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola products, in solidarity with the Columbian National Union of Food Industry Workers (Sindicato Nacional de Trabajadores de la Industria de Alimentos [SINALTRAINAL]),other labor unions, and campaigns such as United Students Against Sweatshops (see http://www.studentsagainstsweatshops.org, accessed July 8, 2007) and CorporateCampaign Inc. (see http://www.killercoke.org, accessed July 8, 2007). Gill proposed a draft resolution, and O’Brien labored to get AAA sections to adopt it over the next several months. In spring 2006, the membership and Board of the Society for Cultural Anthropology (SCA) began deliberations on the resolution, and subsequently endorsed boycott actions against The Coca-Cola Company. As editors of SCA’s journal, we then issued a call for papers that would address aspects of what we have come to call the “Coke Complex”—the multiplicity of beliefs, practices, organizational forms, and politicoeconomic dynamics that enable and index The Coca-Cola Company and the so-called “New Economy” that Coca-Cola indexes and operates within.

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