Conflicting Interpretations: On Analyzing An Agribusiness’ Concerns About Critique

Tijo Salverda


This article explores different ways to interpret the extent to which (capitalist) critique influences corporate practice. Starting from (self-) reflection upon negotiations between the author and a European company involved in land-based investment in Zambia, this contribution shows that corporate actors may be more responsive to their critics, such as NGOs, journalists, local communities, and (activist) scholars, than often assumed. It may be argued that anthropology partly misses this dynamic, due to its limited interest in ethnographic engagement with the powerful and its critical interpretations of capitalism. At the same time, with persistent unequal corporate advantages and wrongdoing, critical interpretations remain of significant relevance to understanding the limits of corporate responses. Reflecting on the balance between these different interpretations, the article aims to discuss the intricacies of analyzing and critiquing corporate practices.       


Corporations; critique; capitalism; self-reflection; Zambia

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