School of Global Studies


Yiwu: Trust, Global Traders and Commodities in a Chinese International City

The project is multi-sited and interdisciplinary, engaging researchers and theoretical approaches in anthropology, area studies, business studies, and history; it will also draw on expertise from law, commercial shipping, and international trade policy.

YiwuThe issue of how researchers should go about studying and analysing globalisation remains a key source of debate in the social sciences. Much of this debate has been initiated and sustained by anthropologists. For this reason, this project, though interdisciplinary in its scope, is led by anthropological methods and approaches. Importantly, given that the form of commodity trading with which this project is concerned is predominantly ‘informal’, there is a paucity of reliable published or available data on the nature, direction, and volume of the flows involved. As a result, one of the most reliable methods for gathering such empirical data will be to engage in sustained fieldwork and deploy associated methodology. In so doing, the project will also seek to stimulate the development of further methodological advances within anthropology (especially those associated with multi-sited and multi-scalar methods) and promote the wider application of these across the social sciences. While anchored in the study of Yiwu, the project comprises dynamic and multiple research sites. This is because the object of the research—Yiwu city, traders, trading routes, and commodity flows—is in perpetual flux.