BLANC - Blanc


Submission summary

Much research has been devoted to the issue of globalisation. However stimulating they may be, these different points of view fail to address an essential question: how, in concrete terms, the institutions and organisations that manage globalisation actually function. In the field of economics, for example, the World Trade Organization (WTO), whose purpose it is to liberalize global trade by putting into effect a system of rules designed to ensure free trade in goods, is hardly a well-known organisation. We propose to carry out an anthropological research that will focus on the negociation process and the internal functioning of the WTO and that will take into account the transnational and intercultural features of this organization. The WTO was created in 1995 with the purpose of liberalizing trade. It provides a framework for the negotiation of trade agreements and a forum for settling trade disputes. In addition, the WTO administers a system of trading rules. We will study the WTO's most characteristic characters: its multiculturalism, its use of negotiation, the different representations of exchange within the organisation, the search for consensus and the endeavour for making a global community, the WTO as an emerging public space, the procedure of dispute settlement and the overlapping of legal and political spheres. This research will be based on an ethnographic fieldwork within the various organs of the WTO. The principle of our research is not to impose a pre-existing grid of interpretation on the problems, but to listen to what is being said and thought within the organisation and to elaborate working hypotheses based on this listening process. We will observe the daily routine of civil servants and will follow the progress of meetings taking place in the building where the secretariat works; interviews will be held with the protagonists. Collection of empirical data in this way will comprise the research base. The team includes anthropologists from several regions of the world - Latin America, North America, Asia and Europe in order to better approach the diversity of the problems and to provide a cross-fertilization of views on the organisation.

Project coordination

Marc ABELES (Université)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


Help of the ANR 200,000 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 36 Months

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