Orchids are one of the most popular plants in the world. But back in the nineteenth century, orchids, specially the tropical ones, were a botanical curiosity and an exotic and expensive item only a few could afford. Those plants were extracted from the tropical jungles of South America to be sold in auctions in Britain. In this blog post, Camilo Uribe Botta shows how the networks created between Colombia, Belgium and Britain in the 1840s led to a constant supply of plants from the tropical Andes and also to new botanical discoveries and innovative methods on how to cultivate them in Britain.
Managers from the British World: A Global Approach to Sheep Farming Industry Labour Disciplines in Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, 1837-1956
From the late nineteenth century onwards, enterprising men from Britain and the British Empire began arriving in Southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, in Argentina and Chile. Part of a wider process of Europeanisation and capitalist colonisation, these men managed an imported activity which deeply transformed this South American borderland region: the sheep farming industry. An important part of this process was the installation of labour regimes, where managers from the British world introduced new practices of disciplining the local workforce. However, as Nicolás Gómez Baeza argues in this blog post, this history of Patagonian local capitalisms was also one of British-global-imperial transfers of diverse capitalist and management knowledge and behaviours.
A cotton growing scheme in the British ruled Aden Protectorate, the Abyan Scheme was built on transfers of knowledge from across Britain’s shrinking empire that were truly global in scope. From the immense cotton fields in Sudan to the agricultural methods taught at the Imperial College of Tropical Agriculture in Trinidad, there was much more to the cotton grown at Abyan than met the eye. Equally, the Abyan Scheme was also not immune to the existential threat of Arab nationalism in the 1950s, as its cotton crops soon became embroiled in Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s criticisms of British imperialism. As William Harrop argues in this blog post, Abyan stands as an important case study of how global ideas of development, expertise and anti-colonialism interacted and became reshaped on a local scale.
Every Tuesday evening in August, Oxford-based orchestra Instruments of Time & Truth in collaboration with Warwick's Global History and Culture Centre and Early Modern and Eighteenth-Century Centre presents a digital series of performances and talks exploring the lives of musicians and their patrons in eighteenth-century London. The series will premiere on Youtube on 4 August at 7pm. This blog post features an historical essay accompanying the concert series by Professor Maxine Berg, detailing the rich musical culture of eighteenth-century London and Britain more generally and its historic links to empire, slavery, and changing global patterns of consumption.
On 21 February 2020, the Global History and Culture Centre hosted a workshop to celebrate the career of Professor Maxine Berg. Focused on the question "Why Does Economic History Matter?", the event concluded with the presentation of a volume of essays written and edited by Maxine's friends and colleagues, titled Reinventing the Economic History of Industrialisation (McGill-Queen's University Press: 2020). In this guest blog, Professor Tirthankar Roy (LSE) responds to the book and the central place of Berg's scholarship in shaping the field of global economic history.