Experiments at the edge: ecological crisis, resource security, and core-periphery dynamics in guitar global production networks

Prof. Chris Gibson1, Dr. Andrew Warren1

1University Of Wollongong, Wollongong, Australia


Disruptions to existing systems of provision arise from ecological crises and accompanying regulatory responses. Emblematic of Anthropocenic economic geographies, such disruptions challenge existing norms and practices, reconfiguring core-periphery relations. We illustrate from an ongoing project ‘following’ the guitar from musician to tree, encompassing manufacturing, resource processing, timber procurement and forest management. In guitar-making disruptions arise from resource scarcity. Heightened environmental regulation and restrictions on trading endangered timber species has forced upstream material resource suppliers and manufacturers to reassess methods and reevaluate practices. Traditional hubs of manufacturing, and dominant lead firms, have been slow to react. Meanwhile, amidst significant disruptions to established industry practices, significant innovations arise from ostensibly ‘peripheral’ actors in scattered places who experiment with new forestry techniques, alternative materials and collaborations with Indigenous resource owners. Conceptions of the peripheral thus shift once the analytical frame is questioned, and empirical scope widened ‘all the way out’ to the forest. Ecological crisis, regulatory agencies and resource worlds are brought deeper into the orbit of theorising global production networks. In the margins are found the unassuming and often overlooked characters responding to volatile circumstances, and in so doing, trialling new practices and challenging existing practices at the core.


Chris Gibson BA (Hons) PhD (Sydney), Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, Fellow of the Institute of Australian Geographers, Fellow of the Geographical Society of New South Wales. Professor of Human Geography at the University of Wollongong.



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