Worldwide, plantations are key economic institutions of the modern era. From an environmental perspective, they are also the settings for some of the most powerful, consequential, and frequently destructive modes of production ever to have existed. Comparing Apples, Oranges, and Cotton assembles essays on commodities as diverse as coffee, cotton, rubber, apples, oranges, and tobacco, to provide an overview of plantation systems from Latin America to New Zealand that exposes the many dimensions of environmental history incorporated in these robust institutions. The global history of plantation systems not only highlights the great institutional resilience of our modern monocultures, but also the price that humans and environments have paid for them.
Frank Uekötter is a reader in environmental humanities at the University of Birmingham, UK. He is the author of many books, including, most recently, The Greenest Nation? A New History of German Environmentalism.