Making deforestation risk visible. Discourses on bovine leather supply chain in Brazil

Aynur Mammadova*, J.H. Behagel, Mauro Masiero

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Large-scale agricultural production and trade of commodities is linked to deforestation risk in the tropics. This article explores political discourses of deforestation risk in the bovine leather supply chain in Brazil. It discusses how specific interpretations and practices of transparency in the leather supply chain affect legitimacy, fairness and sustainability outcomes. The article applies a political discourse analysis to data collected in multiple localities in Brazil between May and July 2018. The data entails thirty-nine semi-structured, recorded, and transcribed interviews, in the form of both face-to-face and video call interviews. We find that the concept of sustainable supply chains is as much a political term, as it is an economic and managerial term. The results show that different discourses articulate deforestation risk of bovine leather differently and highlights how the storylines of each discourse bring attention both to what is made visible and invisible in relation to sustainability, legitimacy, and fairness. Moreover, the results emphasise the importance of the role and voice of frontier settlers, by presenting how their storylines inform a political discourse on livelihoods. We argue that a simplistic understanding of transparency may lead to negative implications for livelihoods and sustainability outcomes. Accordingly, there is a need for increased public scrutiny of supply chains, including the leather one, and for special attention to unequal power relations and the importance of meaningful inclusion of vulnerable groups and populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-95
Early online date7 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2020


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