Call for papers:

The UC World History Workshop  
invites contributions for a conference on

"Production and Consumption in World History"

February 2-3, 2008
University of California, Santa Cruz

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, Piya Chatterjee 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.

General Information

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 organizers.
Paper proposals (or proposals for entire panels) should be sent by email to Terry Burke (eburke(at) 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, (klpomera(at)

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