A Periodisation of Globalisation according to Mauritian Integration into the Sugar Supply Chain

Author: Patrick Neveling

Working Paper Number: 18

PDF file: PDF icon -CSCO-3h--WP18.pdf

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. Central to this integration was the production of sugar under the West Indian Sugar Protocol, with this ultimately turning Mauritius from a free port into a plantation economy. This shaped the island's economic and political practice, and brought the formation of a range of institutions that sustained a high degree of inequality among Mauritians by finding ever newer ways of conciliating socio-economic mobility with exploitation. The paper discusses Mauritian history through the framework of bilateral and multilateral trading agreements that had a significant impact on the sugar industry, and kept the island economically dependent on this single crop. This only changed when the postcolonial state succeeded in diversifying the Mauritian economy during the 1970s and 1980s.