Category: capitalism

Beautiful Trouble: $1 eBook

In the wake of the Trump election in the USA, our favourite book is now available at discount prices – e.g. $1 as an eBook – until the end of this week:

It’s perfect of our purposes and is available until the end of this week – in the wake of the Trump election – for only $1 as an eBook. It comes with a free study guide. There’s a website, too. But books are best!

Shopping and subversion

This week, for the module behind our website, we held an arts and activism symposium at the University of Exeter. One of our speakers was artist Louise Ashcroft, who worked with us on our sister project the Museum of Contemporary Commodities earlier this year (what she made is here)Never have we heard students laugh so hard and be so inspired in an academic classroom. Watch Louise’s TED talk and you’ll see what we mean.

 

New publication: Teaching media literacy and the geographies of consumption

How can encouraging students to cut up, rearrange and otherwise mess with adverts’ imagery and messages help them to better appreciate the complex geographies of consumption and international trade? How can the teaching of controversial issues build on students’ senses of injustice, mischief and creativity?  We have a suggestion…

Earlier this year, a booklet called Medialukutaitoa vastamainoksista became a booklet called Teaching media literacy and the geographies of consumption These booklets come from a series of workshops developed by former followthethings.com intern Eeva Kempainnen in a variety of educational settings in Finland. The hands-on and entertaining methods she sets out are suitable for a variety of ages, and the booklets are crammed with ‘how to’ advice and excellent examples of student work. Watch our cheaply produced promo, download the booklets by clicking the links, and find out more about Eeva’s work here.

Thanks to Mary Biddulph and Alan Parkinson for their help in this process.

Fashion Revolution sessions at the RGS(IBG) conference next week

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We’ve organised three sessions on ‘Scholar Activism and the Fashion Revolution: who made my clothes?’ at the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) conference in London next week. We are excited to bring together scholars from many countries and disciplines and key members of Fashion Revolution’s Global Coordination Team. Everything takes place on Thursday 1st September. Here’s the line-up (click the session titles for the full details):

Session 1: ‘connecting producers and consumers’

Chair: Ian Cook, Geography, University of Exeter

Rebecca Collins, Geography and International Development, University of Chester: New-Old Jeans or Old-New Jeans? Unpicking perverse, provocative and paradoxical temporalities in young people’s clothing consumption.

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Do ‘follow the thing’ documentaries affect their audiences?

This is one of the questions that drives our work at followthethings.com. We tend to find our answers – yes, no, maybe, depends, etc… – in the user-generated comments on video-sharing websites like YouTube and in the comments on newspaper reviews. We’re currently wading through thousands of comments on a 2015  ‘follow the fashion’ film called The True Cost, and came across this powerful video response. We’re giving a paper about the True Cost and fashion activism at a conference next month. There’s an argument in the literature that work like this makes prescriptive arguments about responsibility that are so infinitely demanding they can generate a sense of powerlessness in consumer audiences. This doesn’t seem to be the case, at least for this viewer. Watching this film was a powerful experience. For us, this kind of response changes the question that’s asked. Now it’s ‘how do ‘follow the things’ documentaries affect their audiences? What vocabulary can we develop to describe this? That’s what we’re working on.

Guest post: Gavin Bridge on ‘Who mines sulphur anymore?’

Passengerfilms – a London-based ‘car crash of cinema and geography’ – invited Ian to suggest a film and panel discussants for a screening in February this year. He chose Sasha Friedlander’s documentary Where Heaven meets Hell in which audiences get to know four men who mine sulphur from inside a live volcano in Indonesia. A new followthethings.com page was published on the film and he recommended it again as part of the film programme for the Museum of Contemporary Commodities in Exeter. The screening is tonight. Is all sulphur mined in volcanoes? NO! Says London panellist Prof Gavin Bridge in this guest post. It is ‘mined’ in more surprising places…

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Where Heaven Meets Hell conveys the aspirations, social relations and hard physical labour of a group of men who earn their living by prying chunks of sulphur free from the mouth of an Indonesian volcano. Viewers are drawn into a world of work one can scarcely imagine exists – a world of cloying smoke, hacking coughs, scarred muscles and bodyweight-loads hauled up over the volcano’s rim and down the mountain to be sold. The filmmaker, Sasha Friedlander, artfully works a trope familiar to other ‘revelatory’ commodity stories, exposing the social lives through which natural materials become objects of economic exchange.    Continue reading

Fashion Revolution call for papers at RGS(IBG) annual conference

We’re involved in running a session at the Royal Geographical Society (Institute of British Geography) annual conference this summer whose aim is to bring academic fashion experts into dialogue with the Fashion Revolution movement. We’re asking how fashion research can contribute to what is becoming a worldwide movement for a more ethical / sustainable fashion industry in the wake of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013. We’re looking for academic research from any discipline that can contribute to Fashion Revolution’s five year planning. Here’s what we’re doing. Please get in touch with Ian, Lousie and/or Alex to discuss any ideas. The deadline for abstracts is Friday 12th February.

– Call for papers –

Scholar activism and the Fashion Revolution: ‘who made my clothes?’

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Abstract

The collapse of the Rana Plaza factory complex on April 24th 2013, which crushed to death over 1,000 people making clothes for Western brands, was a final straw, a call to arms, for significant change in the fashion industry. Since then, tens of thousands of people have taken to social media, to the streets, to their schools and halls of government to uncover the lives hidden in the clothes we wear. Businesses, consumers, governments, academics, NGOS and others working towards a safer, cleaner and more just future for the fashion industry have been galvanised.

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Playing cards: ftt’s Ethical Trade Trump game

It’s a game

Students at the University of Exeter designed an Ethical Trade Trumps card game in November last year using data from free2work.org. This summer, we worked this up into a ftt-‘branded’  game, complete with rules, and templates so that groups of people could make and play cards with their stuff. You can download its templates here. This was designed with advice from the secondary school teachers involved in our #followtheteachers project. Natalie is using them with her A-level class to help with Globalisation revision: look!

The idea

When you make cards for your stuff and play them with others, you learn about the companies who make your stuff, their labour policies, transparency, monitoring  and worker rights. In one sense, it’s a simple game of trumping –  ‘Ha! My shoes’ worker rights score beats your Kitkat’s!’ – but making and playing the cards also raises questions about what you can find out about your stuff, what ‘monitoring’, ‘worker rights’ and a ‘living wage’ mean, how they are measured, and what to think about this.

Playing cards

Yesterday, we ran our first Top Trump workshop, at Bath Spa University, with Ranji Devadason and her students (a big thanks to them for giving this such a good go). Here we share the cards that were played at this first ever Ethical Trade Trump tournament!

The experience

The atmosphere was tense but fun. Poker faces were everywhere. Imagine being dealt some of these cards! How would you play them? What was it like for them to play with their stuff like this? We’re inviting them to say so, in comments on this post…

PS if you are unfamiliar Trump card games, check this Wikipedia page.

Credits

This game was devised in 2012 as coursework ‘Geographies of Material Culture’ at the University of Exeter by Joe Thorogood, Michael Franklin, Sophie Angell, Florence Flint, Bryony Board, Toby Swadling, Jack Saxton, Jake Pincock, Emma Hargreaves & Joe Harrison. This pack was re–designed by Ian Cook, in consultation with the #followtheteachers ‘user crew’ Alan Parkinson, Oprah Whipp, Victoria Salt, Charlotte Wild, Jenny Thomas, Natalie Batten, Heather Taylor & Mary Biddulph for use in schools and universities.

Update

This pack was revised in 2014 as followthethings.com’s contribution to Fashion Revolution Day, an Ethical Fashion Trump Card Game is part of its Education Pack (download link to be added when this this is live).

Our 2nd #followtheteachers blog post

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Over the course of the 2013-4 academic year, we’re following seven school teachers and they use and adapt followthething.com in their classrooms in England. Our second post is by Natalie Batten. She reflects on how she encouraged her students to use our site last year to help compare and contrast multinational corporations. This year, she will be using one of our new  game-based teaching resources to encourage her students to better appreciate corporations’ diverse policies regarding workers’ rights and monitoring.

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I covered a similar topic to the one discussed in Oprah’s #followtheteachers blog post – that of globalisation and multinational companies.  This scheme, however, was implemented for AS Level Geography students (studying the OCR exam syllabus). This highlights the versatility of  followthethings.com site as a resource for a variety of student ages, even when covering the same topic area. For example, while Oprah used the site to introduce globalisation at Year 7, I used it at A level to consolidate pupils’ prior learning and provide them with examples and case studies for their exams.

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Click the seat!

The pupils were not familiar with the site, so time was incorporated into the scheme of work for them to explore it. They really liked the layout and navigation of the site and its recognisable format – like other online stores such as Amazon – which made the site personal to them and their interests.

ftt trump LEGO card

Click to play!

The different forms of data presentation on the site (eg. film reviews, travel journals, newspaper articles and Lego re-creations) provided opportunities for differentiation with more able pupils challenging themselves through interpretation of more abstract research sources. In particular, some used the Ford Car Seat page  – based on a 2006 film called ‘Made in Dagenham’ – to explore social and historical geographical topics such as feminism and women’s rights. This was important as it allowed pupils to ‘find the geography’ and make synoptic links to other geographical topics during their MNC research task.

An extension to a task like this could be to incorporate followthethings.com’s new teaching resource – Ethical Trade Trump Cards as a way to compare and contrast global MNCs on categories such as worker’s rights, policies and monitoring in an exciting and familiar game for pupils.

Both they and myself as a trainee teacher took a lot of positives away from this activity and I will certainly be using followthethings.com in my future teaching for this and other topics.