The changing political economy of the Philippines' banana sector

Over the past three decades, the Philippines’ export banana sector has undergone significant changes in terms of land tenure arrangements, marketing practices and agro-ecological challenges. Beyond classical historical accounts that focus on land reform, elite politics and/or social mobilization, this project studies the more hidden historical trajectories of ‘unexpected’ actors. Small-scale banana contract farmers have outwitted a large multinational banana firm by side-selling their produce. Meanwhile, microscopic fungal spores spread throughout the region’s monocrop plantation systems, provoking a devastating wilt epidemic. The research investigates how seemingly insignificant social actors not only shape their own trajectories amidst changing environments, but how these trajectories in turn are (re)shaping networks of capitalist commodity production and exchange.

  • Funded by: Fund for Scientific Research (FWO) PhD fellowship
  • Staff involved: Robin Thiers (PhD candidate); Jeroen Adam (supervisor)