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Postcolonial perspectives on global production networks: insights from Flower Valley in South Africa

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Alexandra Hughes, Dr Cheryl McEwan, Dr David Bek



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


This paper proposes dialogue between postcolonial theory and the analytical frameworks of global value chains (GVCs) and global production networks (GPNs). It does so in order to open up more culturally-sensitive accounts of global supply networks and exporting localities than those provided by prevailing political-economic approaches. Particular focus is placed on Zein-Elabdin’s (2009) postcolonial notion of economic hybridity to advance understanding of the institutional contexts shaping production networks. The value of applying this concept to GVC/GPN studies is illustrated in the case of a sustainable wildflower harvesting supply network in South Africa’s Western Cape, which supplies ethically-promoted bouquets to domestic and European markets. Transnational cultural politics, including those associated with colonial encounters, are shown to shape the hybrid institutional context of this production network. It is suggested that such a perspective on institutional hybridity offers just one fruitful conversation between postcolonial approaches and GVC/GPN frameworks.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Hughes A, McEwan C, Bek D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Environment and Planning A

Year: 2015

Volume: 47

Issue: 2

Pages: 249-266

Print publication date: 01/02/2015

Online publication date: 01/01/2015

Acceptance date: 30/09/2014

Date deposited: 02/10/2014

ISSN (print): 0308-518X

ISSN (electronic): 1472-3409

Publisher: Pion Ltd


DOI: 10.1068/a130083p


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Funder referenceFunder name
University of Sydney
F/00128/BELeverhulme Trust