Commodities, Nature, & Society

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Materialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999). The remainder of the .... Walter LaFeber, Michael Jordan and the new global capitalism (New York:.

Commodities, Nature, & Society Instructor: Edward D. Melillo Rice 307 Office Phone: (440) 755-5828 [email protected]

C, N, & S (Fall 2007) meets on Monday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in King 339

Office Hours (Rice 307): Tuesday: 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. Wednesday: 1:00 – 2:30 p.m.

Illustration from: Philippe Sylvestre Dufour, De l'usage du café, du thé, et du chocolat (1671)

Course Description: Participants in this seminar will explore the environmental and social histories of six commodities: silver, silk, coffee, tobacco, sneakers, and microchips. Each of these commodities represents a complex array of linkages among producers, consumers, and intermediaries over time and space. Readings draw upon the disciplines of history, ecology, and geography to place these commodities in their social, environmental, and spatial contexts. One of our aims is to understand the changing roles of natural systems and the divisions of labor that underlie the long-term processes of “globalization.” Format: The course meets on Monday evenings from 7:00-9:00 p.m. in King 339. We will all come prepared to engage with each other and discuss the material. Our weekly meetings are far too important to miss, unless you face an urgent, life-threatening situation. Each week, two students will lead our discussions. These individuals will prepare and distribute a list of discussion questions and pertinent themes prior to our Monday meetings.

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Readings: We will read the equivalent of a book and three articles per week. The three required texts for the course are: 1) Sidney W. Mintz, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History (New York: Penguin Books, 1986) 2) Arjun Appadurai, ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986) 3) James B. Twitchell, Lead Us Into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999) The remainder of the readings will be available on Blackboard as linked texts or .pdf files. Assignments: Weekly writing: During most weeks, students will write two-pages of responses to the readings. These short papers will provide the basis for our discussions. Discussion leadership: Every week, two students will lead our discussions. Prior to Monday evening, they will prepare a list of questions and themes, which they will distribute to the rest of the group via e-mail or Blackboard. Final project: Each student will pick a commodity and produce a “commodity chain” of its production, marketing, and consumption. Projects may involve multi-media formats that include text-based and non-text-based approaches. Students will present their results to the seminar during our final session. Assessment of Your Work: This is a discussion-based seminar, so class participation and discussion leadership will count for 40% of your final grade. The weekly writing assignments will be worth 30%, while the final project will comprise the remaining 30% of your grade. Honor Code: The Oberlin community takes its honor code very seriously. You should be familiar with the honor code, which is available for download at: http://www.oberlin.edu/students/links-life/rules-regs.html It is crucial that you write and sign the honor code on all work you hand in for this class. The Code reads: “I affirm that I have adhered to the Honor Code on this assignment.”

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Schedule September 3 (no class due to Labor Day): What’s a Commodity? • Read Sydney Mintz, Sweetness and Power. Come to our first session prepared to discuss Mintz’s approach to commodities. September 10: Key Concepts of the Commodity: From Chains to Fetishes • Gary Gereffi and Miguel Korzeniewicz, eds., Commodity Chains and Global Capitalism (Westport, CT: Praeger Pub., 1994), pp. 1-50. • Michael T. Taussig, The Devil and Commodity Fetishism in South America (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980), pp. xi-38. • Ramachandra Guha, How Much Should A Person Consume: Environmentalism in India and the United States (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), pp. 220-250. • “The Commodity,” Ch. 1 in Karl Marx, Capital, Vol. I (reprint; New York: Penguin Books, 1990), 125-177.

Silver

September 17: The Coin Spent ‘Round the World • John Demos, “The High Place: Potosí,” Common-place, vol. 3, no. 4 (July 2003), available at: http://www.common-place.org/vol-03/no-04/potosi/

• Peter Bakewell, Miners of the Red Mountain: Indian labor in Potosí, 1545•



1650 (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984), 3-32. Dennis O. Flynn and Arturo Giráldez, “Cycles of Silver: Global Economic Unity through the Mid-Eighteenth Century,” Journal of World History, vol. 13, no. 2 (Fall 2002): pp. 391-427. Michael O’Malley, “Specie and Species: Race and the Money Question in Nineteenth-Century America,” The American Historical Review, vol. 99, no. 2. (April 1994), pp. 369-395. Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00028762%28199404%2999%3A2%3C369%3ASASRAT%3E2.0.CO%3B2-N 3

Silk

September 24: Silks by Roads and Silks by Sea • Look over the content a “WormSpit.com,” available at: http://www.wormspit.com/ • Ron Cherry, “Sericulture,” Bulletin of the Entomological Society of America, vol. 35 (June 1993), pp. 83-84. Available at: http://www.insects.org/ced1/seric.html • Lillian M. Li, “Silks by Sea: Trade, Technology, and Enterprise in China and Japan,” The Business History Review, vol. 56, no. 2, East Asian Business History. (Summer 1982), pp. 192-217. Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00076805%28198222%2956%3A2%3C192%3ASBSTTA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-9 • Akram Fouad Khater, “ ‘House’ to ‘Goddess of the House’: Gender, Class, and Silk in 19th-Century Mount Lebanon,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, vol. 28, no. 3. (August 1996), pp. 325-348. Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00207438%28199608%2928%3A3%3C325%3A%22T%22OTH%3E2.0.CO%3B28 • Arjun Appadurai, ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 3-63.

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Coffee

October 1: “Good to the Last Drop...” • Ralph S. Hattox, Coffee and Coffeehouses: The Origins of a Social Beverage in the Medieval Near East (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985), pp. 3-45. • Ross W. Jamieson, “The Essence of Commodification: Caffeine Dependencies in the Early Modern World,” Journal of Social History, vol. 35, no. 2 (Winter 2001), pp. 269-294. Available at: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/journal_of_social_history/v035/35.2jamieson .html • Benjamin Aldes Wurgaft, “Starbucks and Rootless Cosmopolitanism,” Gastronomica, vol. 3, no. 4 (Fall 2003), pp. 71-75. • William Jankowiak and Dan Bradburd, “Using Drug Foods to Capture and Enhance Labor Performance: A Cross-Cultural Perspective,” Current Anthropology, vol. 37, no. 4. (August - October, 1996), pp. 717-720. Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00113204%28199608%2F10%2937%3A4%3C717%3AUDFTCA%3E2.0.CO%3B 2-%23

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October 8: “The best part of wakin’ up ... is Folgers in your cup.” • Steven Topik and Mario Samper, “The Latin American Commodity Chain: Brazil and Costa Rica,” in From Silver to Cocaine: Latin American Commodity Chains and the Building of the World Economy, 1500-2000, Steven Topik, Carlos Marichal, and Zephyr Frank, eds. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), pp. 118-146. • William Roseberry, “La Falta de Brazos: Land and Labor in the Coffee Economies of Nineteenth-Century Latin America,” Theory and Society, vol. 20, no. 3, Special Issue on Slavery in the New World (June 1991), pp. 351-81. Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=03042421%28199106%2920%3A3%3C351%3ALFDBLA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-1 • Larry Owens, “Engineering the Perfect Cup of Coffee: Samuel Prescott and the Sanitary Vision at MIT,” Technology and Culture, vol. 45, no. 4 (December 03, 2004), pp. 795-807 • Ivette Perfecto, Robert A. Rice, Russell Greenberg, and Martha E. van der Voort, “Shade Coffee: A Disappearing Refuge for Biodiversity,” BioScience, vol. 46, no. 8. (September 1996), pp. 598-608. Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00063568%28199609%2946%3A8%3C598%3ASCADRF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-8

Tobacco

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October 15: “Come to where the flavor is.” • Jordan Goodman, Tobacco in History: The Cultures of Dependence (New York: Routledge, 1993), pp. 3-15, 191-245. • John R. Wennersten, The Chesapeake: An Environmental Biography (Baltimore, MD: Maryland Historical Society, 2001), Ch. 2. • Daniel P. Jordan and Maurice Duke, Tobacco Merchant: The Story of the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company (University Press of Kentucky, 1995), reading TBA. • Look over the content at: “Collection of Anti-Smoking TV ads,” available at: http://anti-smoking-ads.blogspot.com/ October 29: Welcome t o Global Hi gh • Lee V. Cassanelli, “Qat: changes in the production and consumption of a quasilegal commodity in northeast Africa,” Ch. 8 in Arjun Appadurai, ed., The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 236-257. • Paul Gootenberg, “Cocaine in Chains: The Rise and Demise of a Global Commodity, 1860-1950,” in From Silver to Cocaine: Latin American Commodity Chains and the Building of the World Economy, 1500-2000, Steven Topik, Carlos Marichal, and Zephyr Frank, eds. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), pp. 321-351. • Eric Schlosser, Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2003), pp. 1-74. • Michale Pollan, The Botany of Desire: A Plant’s Eye View of the World (New York: Random House, 2001), pp. xii-xxv, 111-179.

Sneakers

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Novemb er 5: “Just Do It!” • “Introduction” in Philip E. Steinberg, The Social Construction of the Ocean (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 1-5. • Thuyen Nguyen, “Nike in Asia: This is Prosperity?” letter, Wall Street Journal (June 4, 1997), A19. • Walter LaFeber, Michael Jordan and the new global capitalism (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2002), pp. 49-188 (note: this may change). • “Nike Goes For The Green: After 14 years, it figures out how to get greenhouse gas out of its sneakers,” Business Week (September 25, 2006), available at: http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_39/b4002108.htm • Naomi Klein, No Logo (New York: Picador USA, 2002), pp. 365-396.

Microchips

Novemb er 12: “Intel Inside” • Jeffrey Zygmont, Microchip: An Idea, Its Genesis, and the Revolution It Created (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Pub., 2003), pp. 133-219. • Ron Chepesiuk, “Where the Chips Fall: Environmental Health in the Semiconductor Industry,” Environmental Health Perspectives, vol. 107, no. 9. (September 1999), pp. A452-A457. Available at: http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=00916765%28199909%29107%3A9%3CA452%3AWTCFEH%3E2.0.CO%3B2-C • Mvemba Phezo Dizolele, “In Search of Congo’s Coltan,” Pambazuka News (August 8, 2007), available at: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/42959 • Listen to: “Coltan Mining and Eastern Cogo’s Gorillas,” NPR’s Radio Expeditions (May 2, 2001 & December 20, 2001), available at: http://www.npr.org/programs/re/archivesdate/2001/dec/20011220.coltan.h tml 8

Novemb er 19: “Globali ze This.” • Nancy Scheper-Hughes, “The Global Traffic in Human Organs,” Current Anthropology, vol. 41, no. 2 (April 2000), pp. 191-224. • Evelyn Hu-Dehart, “Globalization and Its Discontents: Exposing the Underside,” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, vol. 24, no. 2/3 (2003), pp. 244-60. • Joseph Kahn, “An Ohio Town Is Hard Hit as Leading Industry Moves to China,” New York Times (December 7, 2003), A24. • “The Market as Epistemology: The Exchange Abstraction in Theories of Power and Domination,” Ch. 5 in Nancy C. M. Hartsock, Money, Sex, and Power: Toward a Feminist Historical Materialism (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1983), pp. 95-114. • James Surowiecki, “What Weather Costs,” The New Yorker (July 23, 2001), available at: http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2001/07/23/010723tafi_talk_the_finan cial_page December 3: Perspectives on th e Wealth of Nations • James B. Twitchell, Lead Us Into Temptation: The Triumph of American Materialism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1999), entire book. • Bruce Bawer, “We’re Rich, You’re Not. End of Story,” New York Times Magazine (April 17, 2005), available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/17/weekinreview/17bawer.html?ex=1271 390400&en=44ea05b3e068feb5&ei=5090 • Bill McKibben, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (New York: Henry Holt & Co., 2007), reading TBA. December 10: Stud ent Presentations – Final Projects Due

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