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Volume 92, Number 4 (Fall 2018)


The Devil Was in the Englishman that He Makes Everything Work”: Implementing the Concept of “Work” to Reevaluate Sugar Production and Consumption in the Early Modern British Atlantic World NEIL OTSVALL and VAUGHN SCRIBNER

This article utilizes a scientific definition of “work” to shift enslaved laborers and the environments within which they toiled to the heart of the historical conversation. Though British plantation owners and consumers often figure prominently in historical analysis of Caribbean sugar plantations and rum production, this article’s perspective necessarily relegates them to the fringe of the historical conversation. The preponderance of work on early modern sugar plantations took place at the nexus of human labor and environmental processes. When we understand work as a form of energy transfer, and place it at the center of sugar production, then the Atlantic world emerges as a series of interconnected energy flows rather than merely a collection of shared human experiences. Just as in the present day, early modern sugar agroecosystems were organized around the goal of creating products for blissfully unaware consumers in order to extract as much profit as possible from the work of humans and the environment, often with devastating outcomes for both.

Generating New Production Knowledge: Competitive Agricultural Events in the British Australian Colony of Victoria, c. 1840-1890 DMYTRO OSTAPENKO

Profound environmental differences between Europe and Australia compelled early European settlers to acquire and develop new farming technologies to make cropping a viable activity in the new country. This article demonstrates how competitive agricultural events facilitated the development of rural society in the colony of Victoria. A large number of annual agricultural shows and contests held by local farmers’ associations with active government support encouraged innovation and experimentation among producers by awarding prizes for the best results. Such events further created an effective medium through which agricultural improvements were rapidly disseminated among the rural population. These special events had an important role in generating and spreading new production knowledge in the conditions of an underdeveloped economy.

"Tired of Being Exploited”: The Grassroots Origin of the Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 CHRISTOPHER W. SHAW

The Federal Farm Loan Act of 1916 repudiated the creed of laissez-faire by declaring that government had a responsibility to assist ordinary citizens economically. Farmers had made affordable credit a political issue well before the Panic of 1907 thrust banking reform to the center of national policy discussions. Following this crisis, farmers called for the national government to make agricultural loans. Farmers’ advocacy—which was often channeled through their voluntary membership organizations—both compelled legislative action on agricultural credit and ensured a governmental role in the Federal Farm Loan System. Progressive Era farmers had succeeded in institutionalizing an idea that bankers opposed and the political elite otherwise never would have considered. The full consequences of this innovation in governance were unanticipated. The Federal Farm Loan System provided a precedent for subsequent New Deal programs that aided ordinary Americans.

A Tale of Two Forests: Knowledge Circulations between French and American Naval Stores Chemistry, 1900-1970 MARCIN KRASNODEBSKI

Two pine forests, one in France, the other in the United States, gave birth to two distinctive naval stories industries. Faced with economic difficulties, these industries resorted to science to improve the extraction methods and the quality of their final products. As a consequence, a new discipline, naval stores chemistry, developed on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean in the service of two competing industries. A new set of complex knowledge circulation patterns also emerged between scientists in both countries as they sought to protect their economic environment, and at the same time to reform the increasingly obsolete industries that had given rise to their field. Paradoxically, what was initially considered a disadvantage of the American industry became the most important factor in the development of naval stores chemistry in the United States after World War II, thus exemplifying the “messiness” of the relations between science and environmental policy.

ROUNDTABLE: Agricultural History and the History of Science

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In Memoriam: Richard Lowitt, February 25, 1922-June 23, 2018 ALAN I MARCUS


Book Reviews

Featured Review

Working at the Intersection of the Histories of Science, Technology, and Agriculture, a review of Helen Anne Curry, Evolution Made to Order: Plant Breeding and Technological Innovation in Twentieth-Century America, by Kim Kleinman


Hashim, Hemp and the Global Economy: The Rise of Labor, Innovation, and Trade, by Andrew Patrick

Isett and Miller, The Social History of Agriculture: From the Origins to the Current Crisis, by Dale E. Potts

Swan, Where Honeybees Thrive: Stories from the Field, by Corey Campion


Alfani and O Grada, Famine in European History, by Aaron Hale-Dorrell

Ash, The Draining of the Fens: Projectors, Popular Politics, and State Building in Early Modern England, by Lucy Kaufman

Latin America and the Caribbean

Buckley, Technocrats and the Politics of Drought and Development in Twentieth-Century Brazil, by Nathalia Capellini C. de Oliveira

Barcia, West Africans Warfare in Bahia and Cuba: Soldier Slaves in the Atlantic World, 1807-1844, by Matt Childs

Pestana, The English Conquest of Jamaica: Oliver Cromwell’s Bid for Empire, by Katharine Gerbner

Wolfe, Watering the Revolution: An Environmental and Technological History of Agrarian Reform in Mexico, by Bert Kreitlow

Wilcox, Cattle in the Backlands: Mato Grosso and the Evolution of Ranching in the Brazilian Tropics, by David McCreery


Miles, Upriver Journeys: Diaspora and Empire in Southern China, 1570-1850, by Brigid E. Vance

Songster, Panda Nation: The Construction and Conservation of China’s Modern Icon, by Zach Smith

Mirzai, A History of Slavery and Emancipation in Iran, 1800-1929, by Belle Cheves

North America

Edwards, Friefeld, and Wingo, Homesteading the Plains: Toward a New History, by Ronald G. Walters

Shefveland, Anglo-Native Virginia: Trade, Conversion, and Indian Slavery in the Old Dominion, 1646-1722, by Julie Anne Sweet

Bourne, In Essentials Unity: An Economic History of the Grange Movement, by Michael Belding

Young, Heading Out: A History of American Camping, by Michael Childers

Wallach,Dethroning the Deceitful Pork Chop: Rethinking African American Foodways from Slavery to Obama, by Katie Rawson

Vail,Chemical Lands: Pesticides, Aerial Spraying, and Health in North America’s Grasslands since 1945, by David K. Hecht

Watt,The Paradox of Preservation: Wilderness and Working Landscapes at Point Reyes National Seashore, by Cameron L. Saffell

Berlage,Farmers Helping Farmers: The Rise of the Farm and Home Bureaus, 1914-1935, by Jaclyn J.S. Miller