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Conservation and Society
An interdisciplinary journal exploring linkages between society, environment and development
Conservation and Society
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Year : 2014  |  Volume : 12  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 398-407

Wild Commodities and Environmental Governance: Transforming Lives and Markets in China and Japan

Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada

Correspondence Address:
Michael Hathaway
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0972-4923.155583

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This paper explores the relationship between forms of environmental governance and a transnational commodity chain for a wild mushroom that is picked in China and shipped to Japan. I argue that unlike some portrayals of environmental governance that largely assume a unified system working towards similar goals, governance comes from a number of sources and exhibits a range of forms, which at times overlap and contradict each other. In particular, this paper reflects on notions of commodification that are often argued to be part of neoliberal environmental governance. I show that diverse forms of environmental governance are shaping the texture of commodity chains, but not always working towards the overall increase in commodification. For example, in the last decade, the matsutake economy in China has been strongly influenced by several forms of environmental governance, such as a large-scale logging ban, the declaration of the matsutake as an endangered species, and its scrutiny in Japan as a potential object of contamination. I suggest that each of these forms of governance shapes the conditions of possibility and inflects the dynamics of this chain in different ways.

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