Proposal preview

Crops, Food, and Environmental Transformations Across Time and Space

The ‘waves of globalization’ that form the theme of this iteration of the World Economic History Congress have to date largely been explored in terms of patterns of economic change across time and space. The patterns of increasing and decreasing intensification of human movement have led to the organization of time into distinct periods, and the geographical patterns of expansion to the mapping of space in distinct geo-political units. Certain dichotomies or assumed differences have emerged from this imposition of order: between premodern and modern; between the West and the rest; between global and local; and between centre and periphery. This session focuses on the movement of crops, and the environmental transformations that occurred as part of that movement. Environmental transformation is understood here in a broad sense, including not only the natural environment, but also agricultural practices, diet and culinary cultures, and perceptions of taste and flavor. It asks to what extent the stories we tell about waves of globalization change if we centralize not the human story, but the stories of plants, animals, food and crops. Our proposed session will focus on several specific crops, and aim to tell new stories of agricultural, social and environmental transformations on a global scale. These new stories seek extend the usual historical scales and periods, thereby challenging the myth of distinction between premodern and modern; they seek to extend the spatial reach to challenge both the centrality of Western Europe in narratives of change as well as the presupposed distinction between ‘the West’ and the ‘peripheral Rest’; and they seek to integrate local stories of environmental change into larger patterns of global transformation.

Organizer(s)

  • Anne Gerritsen University of Warwick a.t.gerritsen@warwick.ac.uk

Session members

  • Rebecca Earle, University of Warwick
  • Barbara Hahn, Texas Tech University
  • John Bosco Lourdusamy, Indian Institute of Technology Madras
  • Jonas Albrecht, Johannes Kepler University, Linz
  • Anne Gerritsen, University of Warwick

Discussant(s)

  • Ernst Langthaler Johannes Kepler Universität Linz ernst.langthaler@jku.at

Papers

Panel abstract

This session focuses on the movement of crops, and their concurrent environmental transformations. The ‘waves of globalization’ have to date largely been explored in terms of patterns of economic change across time and space. The patterns of increasing and decreasing intensification of human movement have led to the organization of time into distinct periods, and the organization of space in distinct geo-political units. Certain dichotomies or assumed differences have emerged from this imposition of order: between premodern and modern; between the West and the rest; and between centre and periphery. This panel asks how stories we tell about globalization change if we centralize not the human story, but the stories of plants, animals, food and crops. These new stories seek extend the usual historical scales and periods, thereby challenging both the myth of distinction between premodern and modern and the centrality of Western Europe in narratives of change.

1st half

Of Tulips and Bubbles, and the Place of Istanbul in the History of Capitalism

Barbara Hahn

Tea, Technology and Global Flows

John Bosco Lourdusamy

Useful Knowledge, Population and Diet in the Eighteenth Century

Rebecca Earle

2nd half

The Conquest of Cornucopia: Vienna's Wheat Supply, 1800-1840

Jonas Albrecht

From root to stalk: the transformation of rhubarb in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century narratives of food and medicine

Anne Gerritsen