Whether we are out on the streets or between the sheets, cotton is our constant companion. But behind this ubiquitous fibre prized for its softness lies a darker story of exploitation and hardship. In this penetrating analysis, Adam Sneyd explores the power politics that envelop cotton as major corporate players and countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas compete to control it.
In the aftermath of sweatshop scandal exposés and factory collapse disasters, merchants and retailers have called for better cotton farming practices. But in seeking to prevent the next transnational media circus, will companies simply end up cementing business-as-usual? Corporate public relations strategy now competes directly with the voices of an alternative global community that seeks to fundamentally transform the way that cotton is farmed. Yet these demands for cotton to work better for people and the planet have flown under the radar as media attention has focused instead on farmer subsidies and prices. From the local to the global, this book takes the reader on an illuminating journey through the multifaceted and often grubby politics of the fluffy white stuff in the world economy. The pile of political laundry it uncovers is voluminous but, as Sneyd argues, must be aired in the interests of sustainability and development.