The linked histories of production and
consumption afford an understanding of how the world economy has
fashioned and refashioned the world, linking South Asian spinners,
textile factory workers in the East Midlands, and consumers in Europe,
the Americas and Australasia, most of them predominantly female. In her
Time For Tea,
helps us see the links between the dainty fingers of child workers in
tea plantations in India and middle class women in Boston. Sidney
Mintz, in Sweetness and Power,
asks us to see production and consumption as interdigitated. In his
forthcoming Domesticating the World,
Jeremy Prestholdt asks us to consider the “forgotten histories
of mutuality” that links African consumer desires and their effects on
societies beyond Africa.
The subject of production and consumption provides a point of entry for
a variety of approaches to the study of the emergence of the modern
world economy. Since many producers and consumers were in fact female,
histories of consumption and production are a superb site for tracking
gender in world history. Histories of commodity chains are also grist
for our mills. What are commodities? There are many definitions,
ranging from the Ricardian to the Marxian, to more recent systems
theory. Charting commodity trade is charting the history of the
world economy since ancient times.
Our theme also raises important questions about the relative importance
of markets, states, and cultures in the production and consumption of
commodities and in the crafting of their international networks.
Finally there are concerns deriving from the work of Arjun Appadurai
and Victoria de Grazia, in which "commodities" have more than
just use and exchange value and can move in and out of the market
sphere, having symbolic, religious, clan etc. meanings and values.
Papers that pick up on all (or none) of these themes are especially
welcome. But off-theme papers are also warmly encouraged. Graduate students are especially encouraged
to submit proposals.
Conferences of the World History Workshop MRG typically include 2-3
panels that are "on theme" as well others that reflect a variety of
concerns. Proposals that are not "on theme" are therefore encouraged as
well. Proposals for either individual papers or panels are
welcome; individual papers will be aggregated into panels by the
Paper proposals (or proposals for entire panels) should be sent by
email to Terry Burke (eburke(at)ucsc.edu). The deadline for submission
of proposals is Friday, December 14th.
People interested in attending the conference without submitting a
paper should contact the same address.
Funds are available to reimburse travel and local expenses for all UC
faculty and graduate student paper-givers. Non-UC participants are also
welcome, but we cannot reimburse your expenses.
The UC World History Workshop, begun in 1999, is a multi-campus
research group (MRG) sponsored by the UC Office of the President and
contributions from participating campuses. Participation by
non-UC faculty and students is welcome to the extent that space and
budgets allow. For further information, see our website
or contact Kenneth
Pomeranz, Director of the World History Workshop MRG,
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