Please find below details of our forthcoming workshop. We have also
attached details as a pdf, please pass this on to colleagues who you think
may be interested.
Sandip Hazareesingh & Jonathan Curry-Machado,
Commodities of Empire Project
Commodities in evolution:
historical change in different ages of globalisation, 1800-2000
The 2nd Annual Workshop of the Commodities of Empire project
Council Room, the British Academy, London
11 - 12 September 2008
First Call for Papers
Please submit an abstract of 300 words by 14 March 2008 to:
Dr Jonathan Curry-Machado, Coordinator, Commodities of Empire project:
[log in to unmask]
The workshop will explore the long-term evolution of commodities in the
modern era, particularly from the perspectives of regions subjected to
colonial rule in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean. While
commodity chains were a major factor in promoting interrelations between
different parts of the world, this focus on the world outside Europe and
North America is designed to question dominant periodisations
of ‘globalisation’. Even when not identified purely with near contemporary
processes, many accounts still tend to privilege late nineteenth century
economic convergence between the nation states of the North Atlantic as
the most significant benchmark of a ‘globalising’ world.
That modes and areas of production as well as patterns and places of
consumption of commodities such as tea, coffee, tobacco, sugar and
cochineal underwent radical transformation during this period is not in
doubt. However, few accounts have focused on these changes over the longue
duree, which would open up exciting possibilities of identifying,
comparing and assessing the various mechanisms, both local and
international, that historically produced the major shifts. This may also
offer the promise of a more refined periodisation of ‘globalisation’, even
though we need perhaps to bear in mind that commodities, like other
interconnecting forces, were always uneven and limited in
their ‘globalising’ capacities and that they generated resistance,
conflicts and inequalities as well as convergence.
The workshop will critically explore the following propositions:
How significant were changes in political regimes (e.g. from colonial to
postcolonial) in the evolution of commodity chains between 1800 and 2000?
How far did the movement of commodities help bring about changes in the
technological and infrastructural environment?
What was the ecological and social impact (e.g. in terms of the
distribution of wealth) of export crops over the long term?
What factors promoted changes in the perception of, and demand for,
What promoted and how significant were changes in labour regimes?
Can local experiences and changing histories of commodities help us
towards a more refined periodisation of ‘globalisation’?
A British Academy Research Project, Commodities of Empire is a
collaboration between the Caribbean Studies Centre at London Metropolitan
University and the Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies at the
Open University. Further details can be found on the project website, at
Commodities of Empire Project
The Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies
Faculty of Arts, The Open University
Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 0044 (0)1908 655244
Fax: 0044 (0)1908 653973
Please visit our website at: http://www.open.ac.uk/Arts/ferguson-
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