[URBANTH-L] CFP: Commodities in Evolution: Historical Change in Different Ages of Globalization (London)

Angela Jancius jancius at ohio.edu
Thu Jan 31 12:32:46 EST 2008

'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: 
j.currymachado at londonmet.ac.uk

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, 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
* 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,
particular commodities?
* 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

Companies Act 2006 : http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/companyinfo

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