Rice and the Rise of Global Capitalism

Speaker: Prof Francesca Bray # University of Edinburgh

2nd Dec 2013

15:30 - 17:00

Conference Room, David Hume Tower


The history of rice is intricately entwined with the emergence of the early modern world economy and the global networks of industrial capitalism. As a crop, food and commodity, rice has played a critical role in shaping and linking the histories of Africa and the Americas, Europe and almost every region of Asia. An essential staple of colonial growth and post-independence development programs, today rice is food to over half the world. How did this come about? How much can we recuperate of the history of the flows and interchanges, the introductions and métissages, and the shifts in patterns of production, consumption and trade that made rice into a global commodity? And what might a focus on rice and its multiple facets, dietary and symbolic, genetic, economic and political, contribute to the flourishing field of global history?


Speaker Biography

Francesca Bray is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Edinburgh. She is a historian of agriculture, technology, science and medicine in Asia, with anthropological and STS interests in technology, food and food-systems. She has also published extensively on technology and gender. In 1986 Bray published The Rice Economies: Technology and Development in Asian Societies (Blackwell/University of California Press); Rice: Global Networks and New Histories, co-edited with Peter Coclanis, Edda Fields-Black and Dagmar Schaefer, is due out in 2014 with Cambridge University Press.


For more information, please contact Alyson Macdonald (tel. 0131 650 9113).