Yesterday at the Shenzhen + China / Utopia + Dystopia Conference, the phrase “anxieties about unethical sourcing” abruptly organized the links between all sorts of personal obsessions, ranging from contaminated food through counterfeit goods to cheap Wallmart chochies. I do worry about how oysters end up on a SZ table of seafood because I have seen the contamination flowing into the sea (here and elsewhere). Likewise, I understand the economic environment in which desires for profit might override a more general altruism such that multinational executives moves factories to places like Shenzhen (taking away the livelihood of previous industrialized areas like Wisconsin).
This has me thinking about the original use of fetishes in trade to guarantee that traders would conform to accepted rules. A classical anthropological conundrum: how do we deal with the unknown?