CFI Opportunities

Call for Papers: "The Raw and the Refined: Commodities, Processing, and Power in Global Perspective," University of London, 17-18 September 2020

There has long been a tendency to suppose that commodities exported from the Global South have been ‘raw’, and destined for manufacture in the Global North. They have certainly been labelled as such. The assumptions underlying this stated division of labour derived from theories of colonial pact, underdevelopment, dependency, and unequal exchange. However, prior to export, many commodities were subjected to a growing degree of processing, which was increasingly industrial and capital-intensive in nature. Thus, sugar famously came from ‘factories in the fields’. The industrial treatment of goods prior to export became the road to development in Japan (silk and tea) and Australia (wool and flour). Commodities were processed to varying degrees, partly due to their physical characteristics, such as the need to prevent spoiling (sugar, palm oil, meat and fish), or to save on transport costs (mineral ores and timber). However, the same commodity was processed to a higher degree in different localities, indicating that other factors were at play, such as cost, productivity, and availability of capital, labour, land, energy, and technical education. Policies of settlers, merchants, and imperial powers further affected outcomes, while organised labour sought to keep manufacturing jobs located in the Global North.

In this two-day workshop, we aim to explore, through case studies, how and why the history of commodity processing unfolded so unevenly. We are interested in all geographical regions and approaches from various disciplines. Papers will be grouped in thematic panels, pre-circulated to workshop participants, and panel discussion will be opened by a chair/discussant. Paper-givers can then reply succinctly, giving way to open discussion. Papers presented at the workshop may be considered for online publication in the Commodities of Empire Working Papers series: We encourage graduate students to propose papers, and we have limited funds to help them, especially those coming from the Global South. Those receiving funding will be asked to submit revised versions of their texts as Working Papers.

Please e-mail expressions of interest, with a title and an abstract of no more than 300 words, by 31 March 2020, to:

This two-day workshop aims to explore, through the prism of port cities and the agency of those connected to them, what new approaches mean to the study of commodities that were mobilised within and between empires in the early modern and modern eras. Cases from all geographical regions are of interest, and particularly in cases of provincial ports. Contributions on the role of Scottish ports and Scottish agents in global commodity history are especially welcome. We strongly encourage graduate students to propose papers. There are limited funds to help participants, especially those from the Global South. In addition to historians, we are interested in the involvement of anthropologists, sociologists, economists, environmentalists, and other scholars whose research intersects with these concerns.
You can find further information here. Please e-mail expressions of interest, with a title and an abstract of no more than 300 words, by 31 January 2019 to Jelmer Vos, University of Glasgow,
The IV International Conference of the Portuguese Centre for Humanities (CHAM) on Innovation, Invention and Memory in Africa will take place 17-20 July, 2019. The panel "Commodity Frontiers and Knowledge Regimes in Africa, 1800 to present" is currently accepting paper proposals. This panel examines the formation, implementation and interaction of global and local bodies of ecological knowledge at different commodity frontiers in modern Africa, paying special attention to agriculture and animal husbandry. For further information on the panel theme, please see the extended panel abstract. To submit a paper proposal, please see the panel website, or contact convenors Jelmer Vos of the University of Glasgow and Samuël Coghe of Humboldt University Berlin. Further information about the CHAM conference can be found here.
The Fate of Nations Project at the Norwegian University of Science and Technologyin Trondheim is seeking one PhD and two postdocs to join the Fate of Nations Project. For more information about the project and the research group, see 
The CFAs can be found here:
A scholarship offered by The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) for candidates to purdue Ph.D. studies at the Institute within the Strategic Research Programme ICTA-UAB, Units of Excellence ‘María de Maeztu’ Programme. The successful candidate will develop their Ph.D. in the project “Unburnable Coal and Environmental Justice in China (supervised by Prof. Joan Martínez Alier, Prof. Antoni Rosell, Dr. Juan Liu, Dr. Armin Scheidel) on anti-coal activism (coal mining, transport and power plants) in China and China’s area of economic influence. Deadline for pre-applications is 10 September 2018.