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Rice: Global Networks and New Histories

  • No other books offer a comparative overview of the history of rice
  • A comparative study spanning regional divides, historical eras, and fields of study
  • Of interest to scholars of world, global, economic, agrarian, environmental, and food history, as well as anthropologists

By: Francesca Bray (Editor), Peter A Coclanis (Editor), Edda L Fields-Black (Editor), Dagmar Schaefer (Editor), Giorgio Riello (Foreword By)

436 pages, 28 b/w illustrations, 13 maps, 8 tables

Cambridge University Press

Hardback | Feb 2015 | #221013 | ISBN-13: 9781107044395
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £66.99 $87/€80 approx

About this book

Rice today is food to half the world's population. Its history is inextricably entangled with the emergence of colonialism, the global networks of industrial capitalism, and the modern world economy. The history of rice is currently a vital and innovative field of research attracting serious attention, but no attempt has yet been made to write a history of rice and its place in the rise of capitalism from a global and comparative perspective. Rice: Global Networks and New Histories is a first step toward such a history. The fifteen chapters, written by specialists on Africa, the Americas, and Asia, are premised on the utility of a truly international approach to history. Each brings a new approach that unsettles prevailing narratives and suggests new connections. Together they cast new light on the significant roles of rice as crop, food, and commodity and shape historical trajectories and interregional linkages in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia.


Foreword Giorgio Riello
Preface: global networks and new histories of rice Francesca Bray

Part I. Purity and Promiscuity: Introduction Francesca Bray
1. Global visions vs local complexity: experts wrestle with the problem of development Jonathan Harwood
2. Rice, sugar, and livestock in Java, 1820–1940: Geertz's Agricultural Involution 50 years on Peter Boomgaard and Pieter M. Kroonenberg
3. A desire to eat well: rice and the market in eighteenth-century China Sui-wai Cheung
4. Rice and maritime modernity: the modern Chinese state and the South China Sea rice trade Seung-Joon Lee
5. Promiscuous transmission and encapsulated knowledge: a material-semiotic approach to modern rice in the Mekong David Biggs
6. Red and white rice in the vicinity of Sierra Leone: linked histories of slavery, emancipation and seed selection Bruce Mouser, Edwin Nuijten, Florent Okry and Paul Richards

Part II. Environmental Matters: Introduction Edda Fields-Black
7. Rice on the Upper Guinea Coast: a regional perspective based on interdisciplinary sources and methods Edda Fields-Black
8. Reserving water: environmental and technological relationships with colonial South Carolina inland rice plantations Hayden Smith
9. Asian rice in Africa: plant genetics and crop history Erik Gilbert
10. When Jola granaries were full Olga F. Linares
11. Of health and harvests: seasonal mortality and commercial rice cultivation in the Punjab and Bengal regions of South Asia Lauren Minsky

Part III. Power and Control: Introduction Peter Coclanis
12. The cultural meaning of work: the 'Black Rice Debate' reconsidered Walter Hawthorne
13. White rice: the Midwestern origins of the modern rice industry in the United States Peter Coclanis
14. Rice and the path of economic development in Japan Penelope Francks
15. Commodities and anti-commodities: rice on Sumatra 1915–25 Harro Maat


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Francesca Bray is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of The Rice Economies: Technology and Development in Asian Societies (1994); Technology and Gender: Fabrics of Power in Late Imperial China (1997); Technology and Society in Ming China, 1368–1644 (2000); and Technology, Gender and History in Imperial China: Great Transformations Reconsidered (2013).

Peter A. Coclanis is Albert R. Newsome Distinguished Professor of History and director of the Global Research Institute at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He is the author of The Shadow of a Dream: Economic Life and Death in the South Carolina Low Country, 1670–1920 (1989) and Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle: Globalization in South East Asia over la Longue Durée (2006) and the co-editor of Environmental Change and Agricultural Sustainability in the Mekong Delta (2011).

Edda L. Fields-Black is Associate Professor of History at Carnegie Mellon University. She is the author of Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora (2008).

Dagmar Schaefer is director of the Centre for Chinese Studies and Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Manchester. She is the author of The Emperor's Silk Clothes: State-Run Silk Manufacturing in the Ming Period, 1368–1644 (1998) and The Crafting of the 10,000 Things: Knowledge and Technology in 17th-Century China (2011) and the co-author of Weaving an Economic Pattern in Ming Times, 1368–1644 (2002).

- Giorgio Riello
- Francesca Bray
- Jonathan Harwood
- Peter Boomgaard
- Pieter M. Kroonenberg
- Sui-wai Cheung
- Seung-Joon Lee
- David Biggs
- Bruce Mouser
- Edwin Nuijten
- Florent Okry
- Paul Richards
- Edda Fields-Black
- Hayden Smith
- Erik Gilbert
- Olga F. Linares
- Lauren Minsky
- Peter Coclanis
- Walter Hawthorne
- Penelope Francks
- Harro Maat

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