Coffee and Colombian Identity

Finding a Sense of Place in a Globalized World

The Power of Colombian Coffee

“Because more than 50 percent of Colombia’s legal foreign exchange earnings is derived from coffee, changes in the world price of coffee profoundly affect the Colombian economy, including foreign exchange revenues, real income, and expenditures."

-Garcia and Llamas, Coffee boom, Government Expenditure, and Agricultural Prices : the Colombian Experience.

When a product such as coffee has such a profound and ever changing effect on the economy, then the day to day lives of Colombian citizens are more unstable. Such instability can cause nationwide unrest, especially during difficult times. Such a product will, therefore, have an effect on how Colombians view themselves and the world around them.

Anthropological Theory Concerning Identity

“In the twentieth century, cultures and identities reckon with both local and transnational powers to an unprecedented degree. Indeed, the currency of culture and identity as performative acts can be traced to their articulation of homelands [...] Cultural action, the making and remaking of identities, takes place in the contact zones, along the policed and transgressive intercultural frontiers of nations, peoples, locales.”

-James Clifford, Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century

As may be inferred from this idea, Colombian identity in the 21st century is determined by both external and internal forces of both a political and economic nature. This includes forces such as:

  • The global marketplace
  • Powerhouse countries such as the United States
  • Internal political parties (such as the CTC)
  • The Colombian Coffee Growers Federation
  • The climate in both Colombia and surrounding areas

Colombian identity, or how Colombian people come to understand themselves and where they live is going to be determined at some junctures along these lines.

Not-So-Peaceful Contours of Coffee Production

Ethnographic Research

My work on this subject has been primarily based in research and historic accounts. To truly delve into how Colombians view coffee and how it affects their identity, in-depth ethnographic research would need to be conducted within the country itself examining this concept.

Remaining Aware of the Real Cost of Globalized Foods

In conclusion, it is important to be aware, in a globalized world, just where a person's food goods are coming from and the struggles that might be caused by large scale consumption of such products. This awareness can help lead consumers to make wise and sustainable decisions regarding their food products.

Works Cited:

Clifford, James. Routes: Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century. Harvard University Press, 1997.

García García, Jorge and Gabriel Montes Llamas. Coffee boom, Government Expenditure, and Agricultural Prices : the Colombian Experience. International Food Policy Research Institute, 1988.

Note: This flyer works in conjunction with my research paper