About Commodity Histories

Commodity Histories is a public forum for research postings, news and information about the history of commodities. Our aim is to raise public awareness of the rich histories and cultures of Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America via their crucial role in the growing of crops and the production of commodities that have become an indispensable aspect of people’s daily lives throughout the world.

The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the energy that powers our modes of transport all contain complex histories that connect and open doors to a wider world. The study of commodities such as sugar or coffee, cotton or oil offers an exciting way of approaching global history by highlighting the various peoples and productions grounded in specific localities and environments. This burgeoning field has also enabled the flowering of a genuine multidisciplinarity revealing not only economic, social and political transformations, but also ecological, cultural and spatial outcomes of commodity production, consumption and exchange.

The website enables researchers both within and beyond academia to talk about and share their enthusiasms through text, audio and video media. It provides an opportunity for scholars to come together, explore issues and share ideas, experiences and problems across disciplinary and geographical frontiers. Through this process, Commodity Histories emphasises the benefits of collaborative research and produces insights on the use of digital technologies for collaborative purposes.

Commodity Histories is a community-building project, and we invite participation from the global community of scholars and public activists working on some aspect of the history of commodities. You may want to comment on a featured research or news post; offer interesting news items from your part of the world; share your knowledge of digital technologies; or you may have an idea about contributing a story from your own work to our Research Journeys section. If so, please send us a message through the form in our Contribute section.

Commodity Histories is the outcome of one of the original aims of the Commodities of Empire project, identified in a conversation between Sandip Hazareesingh  and Jon Curry-Machado in the spring of 2007.