Matthew Archer: Sustainable Supply Chains in the Age of Big Data

This essay describes an early stage research project that examines the effects of sustainability certifications like those developed by Fairtrade International and the Rainforest Alliance in the tea supply chain. It draws together theories of infrastructure from anthropology and accounting to suggest that supply chains can be understood as a kind of infrastructure that connects different places, objects, ideas, people, knowledges, etc. This is not a novel observation on its own, of course, but by combining this insight with recent developments in critical data studies, the essay explores the possibility of an ethnography of sustainability certification regimes that attends to the datafication of both supply chains and sustainability (corporate sustainability as well as sustainable development).

Mattew Archer

Matthew Archer (b. 1989) is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Management, Society, and Communication at Copenhagen Business School. After earning his bachelor’s degrees in international studies and Chinese at the University of Mississippi and an MSc in environmental economics at the London School of Economics, he completed a PhD at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. His research has appeared in Semiotica, Lo Squaderno, Energy Research & Social Science, and Cultural Anthropology, and he has presented papers at the annual meetings of the American Anthropological Association, the Association of American Geographers, the European Association of Social Anthropologists, the Association of Social Anthropology, and the Royal Anthropological Institute.


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