a1 Macalester College
With the sudden, almost ubiquitous reentry of The Coca-Cola Company to India during economic liberalization, the branded commodity became a sign of both aspirational global consumer-citizenship for India's urban middle class and of corporate enclosure for those dispossessed of material and symbolic resources to fuel this consumption. Village communities around several of Coca-Cola's rural plants, including in Mehdiganj, Uttar Pradesh, organized against the company's operations, which they accused of exploiting and polluting common groundwater in the production of bottled drinks as an increasing expanse of the country fell into a crisis of water scarcity. This “environmentalism of the poor” has articulated a powerful critique of corporate globalization and privatization, illuminating the exploitation of the resources of the rural poor for the consumption of those on the other side of an increasingly widening economic divide.
Amanda Ciafone is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Macalester College. She is currently at work on a book about The Coca-Cola Company and the politics, cultural representations, and social movements around the multinational corporation.