Through this paper I will explore the role of fair trade in promoting economic development and cultural preservation simultaneously, specifically for the Mayan population in Guatemala. To address this topic I will give a brief history of the Maya of Guatemala and their current campaign for Mayan cultural activism. I will contrast the theory that to advance economically means the loss of traditional culture and the move towards western ideals and materialism, with the Maya idea of ethno-development. This research will take the concept of fair trade a step forward in not only using it to promote economically sustainable development for producers in the Third World, but using it as a means of cultural preservation, or ethno-development, as well. Joint Effort, the fair trade organization I have been working with in Guatemala, will serve as my model to illustrate this concept.

In the course of this paper I will explore the following questions:

Can economic development and cultural preservation occur simultaneously? Who are the Maya and how do they define development for themselves? What is fair trade and how can it promote the Maya's definition of development? What role do weaving and other traditional arts play in cultural preservation? Does Joint Effort promote both economic development and cultural preservation? Is Joint Effort a sustainable project and how can its sustainability be improved?


Anthropology | Economics | Growth and Development | Social and Cultural Anthropology