Think critically about geographic scale.

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Sep 18, 2022


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What is a commodity chain? Geographers have long analyzed and traced commodity chians to tells toreis about globalization, global interconnection, and social change. In this essay, you will follow in this tradition. To complete this essay, you will be asked to watch and analyze this film: With These Hands: The Story of An American Furniture Factory” (2009)
Section 1 Your essay should first answer a series of specific questions about commodity chains: What is the commodity featured in your film? What is a commodity chain? Does the documentary provide any evidence to help you understand how the geography of your specific commodity chain has changed over time? Your essay should then critically analyze changes to this commodity chain. More specifically, can you identify how the (1) production, (2) circulation, and (3) consumption of your commodity have changed over time? Try to be specific about how and why production, circulation, and consumption of your commodity have changed in the period covered in the film. Think critically about geographic scale. Have these changes been brought on by events at the global scale, national scale, local scale, or a combination of scales? Use evidence from the documentary— quotes from local residents/workers, supervisors, and experts—to support your analysis of these changes. In this section, you should also weave your interpretation of these events with analysis from our course readings, specifically: Matthew Sparke, Chapters 3 and 4. Summarize or quote directly from Sparke to help you make sense of these changes and pair his analysis with evidence from the film. Section 2 Next, analyze how these changes have impacted the local community featured in your film. Draw on and consider directly analyzing subjects’ interviews to think about how social life and individual and collective senses of identity have changed. In this section, you should also push beyond the interviews with subjects and develop your own analysis. Using clues offered in the film, speculate on what you think will happen next in these communities and to the people who live there. In this section, you might think back to our class discussion on scale as a tool of analysis (i.e. How do changes at other scales impact the local scales and the intimate scale of everyday life?).


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