Welker, Mariana : Seed Grant, 2014-2015


Mariana Welker (Anthropology)

Project Title: 
An Ethnography of PT Sampoerna and Clove Cigarettes in Indonesia
Project Abstract: 
This project is an ethnographic research on PT Sampoerna, Indonesia’s largest cigarette producer. Through close ethnographic study of the making, marketing, distribution, and consumption of Sampoerna’s kretek, the research will address the subjective experiences and moral and cultural narratives and practices individual (farmers, factory workers, managers, consumers) and collective actors (company, union, government, NGOs) draw on to interpret, justify, and contest how Sampoerna inflicts harms and confers benefits. This multi-dimensional study of Sampoerna will build on and contribute to four domains: (1) theory on corporations, understood as a set of processes and relations rather than as reified entities; (2) commodity chain scholarship, by illuminating how companies get made alongside commodities; (3) tobacco scholarship, by examining neglected arenas of production and distribution in the global South; and (4) scholarship on Indonesia, where kretek are ubiquitous features of social life whose economic, political, health, and moral consequences are subject to polarized depictions.