commodity chain analysis essay

Clearly identifies 3-5 distinct sites involved in the commodity chain. There is ample research that demonstrates each sites economic role and relationship in the commodity chain.

A thorough description of what, when, where and who of each of the 3-5 sites that includes supporting research and evidence.

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GEOG 123/JSIS 123 – Introduction to Globalization
Autumn 2017
Commodity Chain Analysis Project
Step 1 due Friday, October 13 by 11:59pm (on Canvas)
Step 2 due Friday, October 20 by 11:59pm (on Canvas)
Final collaborative Google map due Sunday, October 29 by 11:59pm (on Canvas)
Presentations in section on October 30 & 31
For this assignment, you will work in a group with 2-4 other students in your section to trace
the places and routes of production, transportation, and consumption that form a single
global commodity chain. You will map the economic as well as social, political, and cultural
relations that intersect in and around this commodity. In this process, by focusing on one
commodity chain, you will seek to understand the larger, multi-scalar processes of
globalization discussed in this course.
While there is a strong collaborative element to this project, group members will receive
individual grades for their contributions. On the final map, each group member’s
contributions will be organized into a separate map layer. Each group member should make
an individual submission on Canvas for the two preliminary assignments that are due on 10/13
and 10/20.
Some questions to consider throughout this project:
• Whose labor is involved in the production of the commodity? Is the labor gendered in
any specific way? What are the labor conditions under which it is made?
• Who consumes the commodity? Have its consumption patterns changed over time?
• Who transports it? How is it transported?
• Who benefits and who bears the risks of the production, transport, and sale of the
• What are the environmental impacts of this commodity chain? Where are the
environmental impacts concentrated?
• Who, if anyone, protests against this commodity at any point along the chain?
• What historical processes may have contributed to the spatial patterns of production
and consumption of this commodity?
• Are there any elements of the commodity chain that you are not able to find
information about? Why was this information unavailable? How might you represent
these absences in your map?
There are three main steps that you will go through to complete this project:
Step 1: Choose your commodity (due 10/13)
Your first step will be choosing a commodity for your group to investigate. A commodity is
any product bought and sold on the market. You may choose any material commodity. This
could be anything made in the following sectors:
Textiles and apparel
GEOG 123/JSIS 123 – Introduction to Globalization
Autumn 2017
Raw materials (rubber, lumber, minerals, precious metals, glass, etc.)
Chemicals, plastics, and other synthetic materials
Paper products
Food (grains, packaged meals, beef, etc.)
Machinery (military weapons, medical tools, furniture, industrial machinery, robotics, etc.)
Transport equipment (cars, airplanes, bikes)
Petroleum, natural gas, coal
Electronics and telecommunications (smart phones, etc.)
Live animals
You may choose any material commodity. However, you may not choose immaterial or
abstract commodities like foreign or online currencies (e.g. Bitcoin), carbon emissions,
Internet bandwidth, or financial instruments. In addition, you may not choose services like
business consulting. However, services will likely form one part of your commodity chain, as
in the case of a fast food service worker who sells you a falafel sandwich or a venture capital
firm that provides funding for a startup.
Do a little online research before you make your choice. Is your commodity global in its
production? Does it have a transnational supply chain? (Your commodity may or may not be
sold in more than one country, but it must have a global supply chain.) Is your commodity
supply chain sufficiently complex? Is there enough “there” there for you to map and analyze?
Discuss amongst your group.
Be aware that different kinds of commodities will have different kinds of commodity chains.
Different commodity chains may be complex in different ways. For instance, the economic
chains, social relations, and global history surrounding petroleum production look very
different from those surrounding an iPhone. This means your research into these commodity
chains will look different. Maybe your commodity is made of many different raw materials
from many different places – like an iPhone. Or maybe your commodity is made of one raw
material but it is processed across multiple sites owned by multiple companies and sold in
multiple markets – like oil.
When you make your choice, it is recommended that you define your commodity in a way
that is moderately specific. “Oil” will be too broad. But “the gasoline used in all Boeing 747
planes” will be too specific. “Persian gulf crude oil” is appropriate. “Cell phones” will be too
broad. “The iPhone 7” is appropriate. When in doubt, talk to your TA.
Do a little research. Brainstorm and debate before you decide. Once your group chooses a
commodity for this assignment, you cannot change. Your TA and the librarians at UW can
help you as you do this preliminary research.
Research resources:
A general introduction to using library resources for research.
GEOG 123/JSIS 123 – Introduction to Globalization
Autumn 2017
Encyclopedias can be helpful places to learn a lot of general information about a
commodity or a topic in a short amount of time. Use the Gale Virtual Reference
Library and Oxford Reference Online to see what you can learn about your potential
commodity of choice. For instance, try searching “Sugar” or “Electronics” and see what
you find.
Search news articles by geography and time period.
Information on different countries – maybe a country along your supply chain…
Geography research guide
Other topical research guides
You can use these same resources as you complete the rest of your commodity chain map.
Once your group has chosen a commodity, please answer the following questions, and submit
your responses as a .pdf file on Canvas.
1. What is your commodity? Be specific about the parameters of your commodity. (1-2
2. What do you know so far about the where, when, who, and what of your commodity
and commodity chain? What and where is the supply chain? Where and how is it sold?
Who makes it? Who buys it? (1-2 paragraphs)
3. What are at least 4-5 questions you have about your commodity? What are you most
curious about? These can be about any aspect—economic, political, social, cultural,
environmental, etc.—of your commodity chain.
It is okay for each group member’s responses to be very similar for this assignment, but you
should each submit the worksheet before the deadline to receive credit.
Make sure to include a reference list with APA-style citations for all data sources you used for
the preliminary research you conducted.
GEOG 123/JSIS 123 – Introduction to Globalization
Autumn 2017
Step 2: Identify and research sites and relations of production, transportation, and consumption (due
Once you have chosen your commodity, you will research its various sites of production,
transportation, and consumption. Of course, it is unlikely that you will be able to find every
single site involved in this chain. Instead, each commodity chain will include an illustrative
sample of economic sites, including places of production, transportation, and consumption.
For this stage of the project, your group will identify and research at least 10-12 distinct sites
involved in your commodity chain.
At least 5 of these sites must be sites of production.
o At least one of these sites must discuss land or raw/natural materials.
o At least one of these sites must discuss labor.
o At least one of these sites must discuss money capital (e.g., corporate
headquarters, regional office[s], stock market, investment firms, etc.)
o At least one of these sites must discuss processing and/or manufacturing.
At least 2 of these sites must be sites of consumption.
o These could include sites of market sale (e.g., wholesale distribution, fish markets,
BestBuy, commodities trading, etc.) and sites of consumer use (e.g., restaurants,
workplaces, homes, everyday life)
At least 1 of these sites must discuss transportation, including shipping yards, logistics
companies, or ships/trains/trucks and those who work on them.
Each group member will be responsible for a minimum of 3-4 of these sites, but you may
divide them up among yourselves as you see fit. Fill in the following table with as much detail
as possible for each of your sites:
Economic role/relation in the
commodity chain
Details: what? when? where? who?
Connecting themes, ideas, and
histories from class or your research
Political, social, cultural dimensions
Each site should include some discussion of the social, political, and/or cultural dimensions of
that site in the commodity chain (this is the final row of the table above). This section may
look very different for different sites along the commodity chain.
Political dimensions may include issues like political organization, uneven decision-making,
sovereignty in relation to resource use, corporate lobbying, representative democracy or
authoritarian government, taxation and tax breaks, citizenship, activism and protest, criminal
legal systems, law enforcement and extra-legal use of force, international commercial law, etc.
GEOG 123/JSIS 123 – Introduction to Globalization
Autumn 2017
Social dimensions may include issues like family forms and kinship, religious and spiritual
practice, social authority, educational institutions and vocational training, migration, food and
eating practices, and relations of power, privilege, and oppression organized around race,
gender, class, sexuality, dis/ability, nationality, religion, or other categories of social
Cultural dimensions may include any of the social or political issues listed above. What they
will add is an explicit discussion of the meanings, values, and ideas that are made through
these social and political processes. These meanings may be expressed through traditionally
artistic media like visual art, graffiti, TV, or poetry. Or they may be expressed in everyday
ways like the way people dress, how they feel about their work, the priorities they set, etc.
Compile your completed tables into a single .pdf document and submit on Canvas to receive
credit for this assignment.
GEOG 123/JSIS 123 – Introduction to Globalization
Autumn 2017
Step 3: Map your commodity chain (due 10/29)
Now that you have gathered information about each site in your commodity chain, you are
ready to create your map! Create a separate map layer for each member of your group, so that
your TA can clearly differentiate among individual contributions. Each of your sites will be
represented using a place marker on the map. Each place marker on Google Maps allows you
to customize the marker symbol and add text, images, videos, and audio files. As you create
your Google Map, each of your sites must include:
A descriptive title
A meaningful symbol
1-2 paragraphs of text synthesizing the information in the table from Step 2
A photo, video, and/or audio clip
After all of your group’s sites have been added to the map, add lines connecting them to
represent the path of the commodity chain and the sites’ relationships with each other.
Different colors or styles of line might represent different types of relations. Your group must
work together to create a coherent and consistent design scheme for your map. Be strategic
about your use of cartographic representation—map symbols should have some logical and
meaningful relationship with the sites they represent, different sections of the commodity
chain (e.g. resource extraction, manufacturing, transportation, consumption, etc.) might be
color-coded, and users should be able to easily navigate and interpret your map.
You must clearly indicate where you found all of the information represented on your map.
You may use hyperlinks within your map annotations in place of parenthetical citations, but
you should also submit a reference list with complete, properly formatted APA-style citations
for all of your data sources.
To turn in this assignment, make sure that your map’s sharing settings will permit your TA to
view the map, and submit a .pdf file with a link to the map and your reference list.
Thanks to Will McKeithen and Ben Gardner for inspiration for this assignment design.
Google ‘My Maps’ as a Collaborative Research Tool
1.) Go to
NOTE* It is critical you sign into My Maps NOT Google Maps. These are different platforms.
2.) Select Create Your Map
3.) Click Create or Open a Map
4.) Open Google My Maps
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
4.) Use your UW Net ID to Sign into Google
6.) Now you can begin creating your research map!
(Even if you have an individual google account)
7.) Click on the Map Title to Title Your Map
8.) Enter the names of your group members and map description.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
9.) Select ‘Share’ to invite your collaborators to edit.
10.) Invite collaborators through their UW Net ID address
11.) Manage Privacy
Settings: Set to OnUW and Can Edit
* remember to save
after each step
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
* Google My Maps features work best with Google Chrome. Firefox is compatible, Microsoft Edge is extremely glitchy
and Explorer compatibility is limited at best.
12.) Adding layers is an important step for
collaboration. Only map owners can add layers
and you can have up to ten layers total. Adding
all ten layers at this stage will allow for easier
collaboration as you move through the mapping
process. Simply click on the add layer icon until
you have all layers in the map legend.
Each layer adds deeper context to your map.
You can use layers to show different elements
in a commodity chain, add textual richness or
incude divergent perspectives.
At any step in the map building process you can click ‘learn more’ in a layer to find Google guides and tutorials regarding
the map building process.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
13.) The tool bar located at the top offers undo, redo, select, add marker, draw a line, add directions and measure features.
14.) Search Bar locates exact points for plotting on your map.
15.) Select layer and rename to begin mapping
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
16.) Click the ‘add marker’ icon in the toolbar to place your
first Point of Interest on the map. Place the marker where
you want and start adding textual, image, video and citation
17.) You can edit Point of Interest (POI) data, change the
marker icon features and add or delete images or video by
selecting the marker.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
18.) The choose image or video feature acts like any basic web platform. You can upload your own videos/images, insert an
external URL or search and embed YouTube, Google Images or website content.
19.) When searching YouTube or Google Images you can
preview videos before making your selection. Once you
have chosen your video simply click and a blue box will
appear around your selection. Move to the bottom of the
screen and click the blue ‘select’ button and the
video/image will appear in your map box. Be sure to
save and include citation data in the text box.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
20.) You can add multiple images/videos to each POI but you cannot change the ORDER unless you delete and
start over. The viewer can scroll through your data by clicking the forward button at the bottom. The text box
appears at the bottom of the image/video display. Add additional video or image content by clicking the plus
sign at the bottom of the display.
Grab an image from your own files, insert a
URL copied from an external source or search
Google Images.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
21.) Copy image or video link into the space provided
to embed external digital content.
*Click SAVE after each change, edit or addition!
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
22.) Draw lines and shapes to highlight relationships
Google maps/shapes tutorial here:
In the left panel, click the layer you want to use. The
selected layer will be blue on the left edge
In the toolbar, click the line or shape icon
Choose whether you want to add a line or shape, or
add a route.
Your cursor changes to a “+”. Move the cursor to
where you want to start drawing, then click once.
Click at each point of your line or shape. The more
you click, the more precise your line or shape will be.
To move the map, click and hold the mouse.
To finish drawing your line, double click on the last
point. To finish drawing your shape, click on the
starting point. Text boxes appear
Hit Enter to save.
Click edit icon for line/shape text box. You can add
images, videos, citations and descriptions here.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
23.) Customize Map Markers. Change color, icon or shape with Google icons or create individualized markers.
Click the marker in the legend/layer that you are working in. Change the color or select from popular icons.
To use your own unique image click ‘custom icon’ to upload
image URL or local files. Once uploaded, your customized icons will appear in ‘more icons’.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
Additional Map Features:
Delete or rename a layer, make sure you have the correct layer
selected. The selected layer will be blue on the left edge. Click
the drop-down layer options menu button . Then click Delete
or rename. Deleted layers cannot be recovered. (edited from
Google tutorial)
Layers are an excellent feature for map collaboration. You can
assign each group member their own layer, or highlight diverse
research date in different layers.
Data Tables: Layer menu tab brings up open data
table option:
The data table allows quick text editing, adding
columns and arranging point and marker sequence.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
Customize Layer Appearance allows custom titles, labels and data to appear on your map. Once you select the individual
styles icon group styles and labels tabs
Order the way data and labels appear on
the map with uniform style, sequence of
colors and letters, individual styles (recommended) or style by data column.
Caution: Long titles and large amounts
of data will show up directly on the map
and can appear cumbersome. To keep
data and titles off your map select
individual styles and no labels. You can
return to individual styles and no labels
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
Map Background:
Base map feature provides nine style options to customize the look
and feel of your map.
Print, Delete and Export:
Select the title menu tab to open a new map, copy a map, delete maps,
export to KML and print.
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016
Google My Maps Support:
Google Earth Online Tutorials:
Sample Map:
Ronnie Thibault 9/20/2016

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