Cropscapes and History

Reflections on Rootedness and Mobility

in Transfers
Author:
Francesca Bray University of Edinburgh, UK francesca.bray@ed.ac.uk

Search for other papers by Francesca Bray in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
Barbara Hahn Associate Professor, Texas Tech University, USA b.hahn@alumni.unc.edu

Search for other papers by Barbara Hahn in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
,
John Bosco Lourdusamy Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology Madras, India jblsamy@iitm.ac.in

Search for other papers by John Bosco Lourdusamy in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
, and
Tiago Saraiva Associate Professor, Drexel University, USA tsaraiva@drexel.edu

Search for other papers by Tiago Saraiva in
Current site
Google Scholar
PubMed
Close
Restricted access

Abstract

Crops are a very special type of human artifact, living organisms literally rooted in their environments. Crops suggest ways to embed rootedness in mobility studies, fleshing out the linkages between flows and matrices and thus developing effective frameworks for reconnecting local and global history. Our focus here is on the movements, or failures to move, of “cropscapes”: the ever-mutating ecologies, or matrices, comprising assemblages of nonhumans and humans, within which a particular crop in a particular place and time flourishes or fails. As with the landscape, the cropscape as concept and analytical tool implies a deliberate choice of frame. In playing with how to frame our selected cropscapes spatially and chronologically, we develop productive alternatives to latent Eurocentric and modernist assumptions about periodization, geographical hierarchies, and scale that still prevail within history of technology, global and comparative history, and indeed within broader public understanding of mobility and history.

Contributor Notes

Francesca Bray is a historian of science, technology, and medicine in Asia, specializing in gender and technology, the politics of historiography, and the history of agriculture and food. Recent publications include Technology, Gender and History in Imperial China (2013) and Rice: Global Networks and New Histories (2015). She is Professor Emerita of Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh, where she recently completed a term as President of the Society for the History of Technology. The coauthored project presented here, “Moving Crops and the Scales of History,” uses crops to experiment with the chronologies and geographies of global history. Email: francesca.bray@ed.ac.uk

Barbara Hahn is Associate Professor of History at Texas Tech University and Associate Editor of Technology and Culture. She is the author of Making Tobacco Bright: Creating an American Commodity, 1617–1937 (2011) and, with Bruce E. Baker, The Cotton Kings: Capitalism and Corruption in Turn-of-the-Century New York and New Orleans (2016), as well as numerous articles and book chapters. She is currently completing Technology in the Industrial Revolution for Cambridge University Press and a project supported by “Rethinking Textiles” (principal investigator Regina Lee Blaszczyk) was recently a Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship at the University of Leeds (2014–2016). Email: b.hahn@alumni.unc.edu

John Bosco Lourdusamy is Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras and a historian of science, technology, and medicine. His latest academic interest, the history of tea plantation and the evolution and transfers of technology in the tea industry in colonial India, has led to an interest in the history of global circulation of (other) crops and commodities. Recent works include “Betwixt Science and Religion East and West: Jesuits in 17th and 18th Century Southern India,” in Science and Religion: East and West, edited by Yiftach Fehige (2016). Email: jblsamy@iitm.ac.in

Tiago Saraiva is Associate Professor of History at Drexel University, coeditor of History and Technology, and author of Fascist Pigs: Technoscientific Organisms and the History of Fascism (2016), winner of the 2017 Pfizer Prize. A historian of science and technology, he is interested in the connections between science, crops, and politics at the global scale. After revisiting the history of European fascism through stories of technoscientific organisms such as wheat, pigs, and sheep, he is currently studying the significance of Californian oranges for experiments in racialized democracy in South Africa, Algeria, Palestine, and Brazil in the interwar period. Email: tsaraiva@drexel.edu

  • Collapse
  • Expand

Transfers

Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies