"Global Rubber and the Temporalities of Ecological Imperialism"
Moritz von Brescius, John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellow & Visiting Scholar 2021-2022, Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University; Senior Lecturer, University of Bern
This work revisits the historical conjuncture of the nineteenth-century plantation revolution for the key industrial commodity of rubber. The consequences of this planting revolution impinge on contemporary environmental predicaments, since rubber – produced from the tapped latex of certain tropical trees – remains one of the most widely cultivated plantation-crops. The larger book project provides a global microhistory of the first extensive rubber estate worldwide, the Charduar plantation, established in 1873 in the northeast Indian province of Assam by the British colonial state. While extensively analysing the plantation’s protracted genesis, its sustaining ideologies and revenue output, I am particularly concerned with the temporal calculations and pressures that sustained the imperial ambition to transform rubber from a ‘wild’ into a systematically planted, industrial resource.
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This graduate-faculty research seminar is designed to bring together interested faculty and students on a continuing basis to cover topics on global history. It is part of History 2950A/B, Approaches to Global History, and includes both reading sessions designed for graduate students and research sessions open to the interested public during which students and faculty participants will present current research. Faculty participants will be drawn from a number of schools, and, most especially, from the group of fellows in global history who are spending the academic year 2021-2022 at the Weatherhead Initiative on Global History. Discussions will be moderated by Professors Sven Beckert and Charles Maier.