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Keywords:

  • natural resources;
  • Foucault;
  • government;
  • brands and branding;
  • teak;
  • British Empire;
  • Burma

This paper explores the branding of natural resources using a case study of teak. While scholars write about brands and branding as well as natural resources, few of them connect the two, let alone trace geographical and historical patterns of development. Yet studying the intersection of brands, natural resources, geography and history yields rich insights about how both brands and natural resources have come to be defined. Rejecting narrow understandings of branding, the paper instead builds a broader appreciation of this phenomenon using a Foucauldian framework that sees it as a form of government. It identifies three tools – science, violence and marketing – that inform the genesis of brands, exploring their deployment in the making of teak with reference to selected historical and geographical entanglements of the British Empire and former colonies (notably Burma as prime country of origin).