Professor Jean Stubbs is founding co-director of the Commodities of Empire project; founder member of the Commodity Frontiers Initiative; Associate Fellow at the Institute of Latin American Studies (School of Advanced Study, University of London), and the Institute for the Americas (University College London); and Professor Emerita of London Metropolitan University, where she directed the Caribbean Studies Centre (2002-2009). She is a member of the Academy of History of Cuba, and, since her early monograph Tobacco on the Periphery: A Case Study in Cuban Labour History, 1860-1958 (Cambridge University Press, 1985), she has published widely on Cuba, her specialist interests spanning tobacco, labour, gender, race and migration. She is currently co-editing the Oxford University Press Handbook of Commodity History (with Prof. William Gervase Clarence-Smith, SOAS; Dr Jonathan Curry-Machado, ILAS, University of London; and Dr Jelmer Vos, University of Glasgow). She is also working on two other books, one provisionally titled The Havana Cigar Universe: Transnational Migration and Commodity Production, 1756-2020 (single-authored) and the other, Nation-Branding and the New Cuban Diasporas in Canada and Western Europe, 1989-2019 (co-authored with Dr Catherine Krull, University of Victoria, Canada).
Her foundational work on Cuban tobacco, and especially the Havana cigar, has led her to trace cultivation, trade, manufacture, labour and consumption on a global scale, linking commodity and migration histories. Spanning the late-eighteenth to the twenty-first centuries, her work draws on sociological, anthopological and agronomic approaches, as well as archival and oral history. Her work on contemporary Cuban migration builds on this to explore how commodity and nation-branding have shaped the new Cuban diasporic mobilities. Her more recent interest in commodity frontiers and environmental history led her to co-produce the documentary Cuba: Living Between Hurricanes (2019, dir. Michael Chanan, co-producer Jonathan Curry-Machado), funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council.