IV-8.”Spatiotemporal Analysis of Tropical Commodity Chains: Toward the Creation of Global Multidisciplinary Studies”(H23 FY2011)

  • Project Leader : Soda Ryoji (Graduate School of Literature and Human Sciences, Osaka City University)
  • Collaborators : Fujita Motoko (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University)
  • : Ubukata Fumikazu (Graduate School of Environmental Science, Okayama University)
  • : Endo Tamaki (Faculty of Economics, Saitama University)
  • : Samejima Hiromitsu (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University)
  • : Sadamichi Yucho (Research Institute of Science for Safety and Sustainability, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology)
  • : Ishikawa Noboru (Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University)

Outline of Research

This study examines the interrelationships between human and equatorial highbiomass environment, by analyzing biological resources that generate commodity chains at local/regional/global levels. Project members with different academic backgrounds will accumulate case studies on the flows of high-biomass products such as timber, mammal meat, bird’s nest, rattan, gutta-percha, rubber, oil palm, and acacia, each of which will make clear equatorial resource utilization and its commoditization. Integrating these case studies, we will try to create a new multi-scale Area Studies methodology which deals with human-nature interactions.


The purpose of this study is to construct new multidisciplinary global Area Studies by examining the process of equatorial biomass application from production to consumption at various spatiotemporal scales. Instead of conventional studies that focused on commodity chains from macro perspectives, our study is more multidimensional including perspectives of disturbance ecology, lifecycle assessment, anthropology, and Area Studies, in order to make clear the interactions between people and high-biomass environment in tropical regions.

In this study, each member conducts case studies to analyze the commoditization of high-biomass generated products, setting up effective units of spatiotemporal scales based on the method of each academic discipline. Then accumulated case studies will be theoretically integrated by using methodologies employed in geography and historical science that may articulate studies with different time/spatial scales. This will be an experimental attempt at creating a new type of integration between the humanities and science.

Looking at the flow mechanisms of tropical high-biomass products and inter-regional relationships through commodity chains, we will try to deconstruct conventional Area Studies which are bound to a specific research site and present a new model of ‘interdisciplinary and trans-regional’ Area Studies with equatorial perspectives.

An inland market town in Borneo. Although selling wild animals is prohibited by the law, some kinds of meat are still locally-distributed.

Reloading of timber. Timber from Indonesian Borneo is temporarily deposited in borderland log ponds to be ‘exported’ to Malaysia, and farther to Japan and other countries.