UTSC Anthropology Associate Professor Christopher Krupa has been awarded the 2023 Society for Economic Anthropology Book Prize for his book A Feast of Flowers: Race, Labor, and Postcolonial Capitalism (2022).
The ethnography goes behind the scenes in Ecuador's massive cut flower industry, which dominates the supply of cut flowers into North America and relies heavily on Indigenous labour.
In the book, Prof. Krupa goes inside the industry to chronicle the ways its capitalist pioneers built a booming export industry around a racial ideology, turning Indigenous people's purported differences into resources for industrial expansion. At the core of this racial system is a belief, central to postcolonial science and politics in Ecuador, is capitalism's unique capacity to change people's racial identity and to liberate oppressed populations from racial subordination. Prof. Krupa shows how such views not only guide how Indigenous people are today incorporated into demanding labor systems in Ecuador's new export plantations, but also how Indigenous minds and bodies became sites of study and intervention by scientists, politicians, and economic planners throughout the last century, all looking to change indigenous people in some way.
Combining nearly two decades of ethnographic and historical research, A Feast of Flowers shows how aggressive capitalist expansion in postcolonial contexts may revive longstanding intersections between race and economy to facilitate new modes of dispossession under the guise of humanitarian intervention.
In May 2022, we discussed the book with Professor Krupa. You can read that interview here.