The Commodities of Empire Project

The Commodities of Empire Project

Project owner / organizer
Open University's Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies; London Metropolitan University's Caribbean Studies Centre ()
Hosting organization
United Kingdom
From - Until
31.07.2008 -
Curry-Machado, Jonathan

The mutually reinforcing relationship between ‘commodities’ and ‘empires’ has long been recognised. Over the last six centuries the quest for profits has driven imperial expansion, with the global trade in commodities fuelling the ongoing industrial revolution. These ‘commodities of empire’, which became transnationally mobilised in ever larger quantities, included foodstuffs (wheat, rice, bananas); industrial crops (cotton, rubber, linseed and palm oils); stimulants (sugar, tea, coffee, cocoa, tobacco and opium); and ores (tin, copper, gold, diamonds). Their expanded production and global movements brought vast spatial, social, economic and cultural changes to both metropoles and colonies.

In the Commodities of Empire project we explore the networks through which such commodities circulated within, and in the spaces between, empires. We are particularly attentive to local processes – originating in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Latin America – which significantly influenced the outcome of the encounter between the world economy and regional societies, doing so through a comparative approach that explores the experiences of peoples subjected to different imperial hegemonies.

The Commodities of Emipre Project is a joint research collaboration between the Open University's Ferguson Centre for African and Asian Studies and London Metropolitan University's Caribbean Studies Centre.

The Commodities of Empire project is pleased to announce the publication of the latest addition to its Working Papers series:
No.8, David Hyde, 'Global coffee and decolonisation in Kenya: overproduction, quotas, and rural restructuring'

This paper, along with the others in the series, can be downloaded from the Commodities of Empire website, at

Further announcements:
'Commodities in evolution: historical change in different ages of globalisation, 1800-2000' The 2nd Annual Workshop of the Commodities of Empire project, Council Room, the British Academy, London, 11 - 12 September 2008.

A Conference on the Moral, Economic, and Social Life of Coffee, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio, Friday October 31 and Saturday November 1, 2008.

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