Dried cod in the international chain of commerce, between Newfoundland, Brazil, and Salvador.
Showcasing original research in the field, the Working papers are an initiative of the Commodities of Empire project and have their origins in papers presented at the workshops organised under its auspices since 2007. We welcome suggestions for new papers.
Nineteenth-Century Bahia's Passion for British Salted Cod: From the Seas of Newfoundland to the Portuguese Shops of Salvador's Cidade Baixa, 1822-1914
A Scots Émigré, Imperial Systems and Global Commodities: Gillian Maclaine and his Mercantile Network, 1816–1840
This paper focuses on the life of Gillian Maclaine (1798-1840) and the history of the firm of Maclaine Watson that he co-founded in Batavia (present day Jakarta), seven years after his arrival there in 1820.
The Black Diamonds of Bahia (Carbonados) and the Building of Euro-America: A Half-century Supply Monopoly (1880s-1930s)
This paper traces the birth, maturity and decline of what was Bahia’s natural supply monopoly of black or industrial diamonds: first used in polishing materials (for consumption); then in drilling; and by 1940 they were employed in making parts for the Third Reich’s premier fighter plane, the Messerschmitt bF 109.
El Habano: The Global Luxury Smoke
Cuban ethnographer Fernando Ortiz used tobacco and sugar as metaphorical constructs, highlighting the fetish power of the commodities and a counter-fetish interpretation that challenged essentialist understandings of Cuban history.
Commodity and Anti-commodity: Linked Histories of Slavery, Emancipation and Red and White Rice at Sierra Leone
This paper concerns the introduction of ‘white’ Carolina rice to the abolitionist settlement at Freetown in the early-nineteenth century and what happened to ‘commodity’ rice when it was reshaped by local farmers to serve emancipatory purposes.
A Periodisation of Globalisation according to Mauritian Integration into the Sugar Supply Chain
Using the case study of Mauritius, and its integration into the international sugar commodity chain, this paper shows that the analysis of commodity chains can be fruitfully employed to respond to recent calls in the field of global/world history for a periodisation of globalisation. The entry of Mauritius into the British Empire brought about a particular kind of integration of the island into the capitalist world system.
Tobacco growers and resistance to American domination in Puerto Rico , 1899-1940
Puerto Rico's absorption into the United States market after 1898 created new and dynamic economic and political opportunities for the island's farmers. In the highland regions of Puerto Rico, the expansion of the tobacco market resulted in a boom in tobacco cultivation that transformed the region and provided an arena for political participation and activism.
In cane's shadow: the impact of commodity plantations on local subsistence agriculture on Cuba 's mid-nineteenth century sugar frontier
The fertility of the Cuban soil should have meant that the island be capable of feeding itself, yet during the nineteenth century such self-sufficiency appeared to be sacrificed in favour of spreading commodity cultivation – in particular sugar plantations, with this single crop coming to dominate the national economy.
Cuban Popular Resistance to the 1953 London Sugar Agreement
In 1953, faced with a catastrophic fall in the price of sugar, representatives of the major sugar producing and consuming nations of the world met in London to agree a mechanism for stabilising the international sugar market. Cuba was heavily dependent on the export of sugar and any change in either the price received for the sugar crop, or the amount that could be sold, had a huge effect on the island's economy.
The Battle for Rubber in the Second World War: Cooperation and Resistance
Control of certain raw materials assumed an enhanced significance during the Second World War, due to the mechanisation of the armed forces of the world. Together with petroleum and a handful of rare minerals, rubber became crucial to the ability to wage successful war, and every belligerent was short of it at some point during this global conflict. Indeed, shortages of rubber and fuel structurally prevented the Axis powers from mechanising sufficiently to mount a true blitzkrieg .