Commodities in evolution: historical change in different ages of globalisation, 1800-2000
The 2nd Annual Workshop of the Commodities of Empire project
British Academy, London. 11–12 September 2008

The workshop explored 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.


Karl Gerth, ‘Making and unmaking commodity chains in 20th century China’

Camilo Quintero, ‘Fancy hats, exotic birds and happy naturalists: a different kind of commodity in Latin America’s international relations’

Ian Phimster, ‘Commodities in demand: base minerals and the City of London before World War II’

Patrick Neveling, ‘A periodisation of globalisation according to the Mauritian integration into the international sugar commodity chain (1825-2005)’

Jan-Frederik Abbeloos, ‘Globalisation as metaphor: the spatial changes of the world copper business (1870-2000)’

Karin Pallaver, ‘“The fastidious taste of African women”: Venetian glass beads in 19th century East Africa’

Jennifer P. Nesbitt, ‘Rum histories: Commodity chains and literary figurations of rum and sugar in 18th and 20th century literature’

Alasdair Brooks, ‘Speaking in Spanish, Eating in English’ (co-authored by Ana Cristina Rodríguez Yilo)

Juan José Baldrich, ‘From handcrafted tobacco rolls to machine-made cigarettes: The transformation and Americanization of Puerto Rican tobacco, 1847-1903’

Jorge Ibarra, ‘British Indian rice in the Cuban market. Conflicts with US monopolies’

Emma Reisz, ‘The culture of economic imperialism: rubber in the British Empire, 1800-1940’

Paul Ashmore, ‘Understanding globalisation: the Dominions Royal Commission as imperial archive’

Swarnalatha Potokuchi, ‘Controlling commodity culture: indigenous knowledge and Indian cotton textile industry: Andhra region, 1790-1900’

Elizabeth Heath, ‘Citizenship, labor and assimilation in colonial Guadeloupe’

Cyrus Veeser, ‘Forced labor as a strategy for commodity production in colonial Africa and Asia’

Walter Cordero, ‘Cultivation of coffee in the Dominican Republic: factors and models for development’