During the fall of 2022, Frank Uekotter recorded weekly videos on key issues of our research group. These videos paired with the MaMoGH reading group, where we discussed a key book in the field each week. Topics include commodity chains, global and regional approaches, capitalism and industrial ideals, the mystery of taste, organic and socialist alternatives, etc. These videos provide an idea of the breadth of topics covered by the research project, and they serve as reflections on the state of our discussions. You can see our evolving working arguments - and you can see that food history is one of the most exciting and dynamic fields in today's historical profession. We hope that you get a taste for it!
Industrial Ideal vs Agricultural Reality
First published in 2003, Deborah Fitzgerald’s Every Farm a Factory focuses on the rise of industrial farming that occurred in the US in the 1920s, seeing the emergence of corporate farms as evidence of a new way of doing business, involving new actors and new ways of thinking. In his assessment, Dr. Uekotter praises the book’s argument, which remains compelling almost 20 years later, while noting that although the push to industrialization emerged during a time of crisis, high tech solutions failed to remove biology from the equation at the same time that they created a rallying point of different groups of people with differing goals.
We Need To Talk About (War) Capitalism
This week Professor Uekotter turns his attention to Sven Beckert’s Empire of Cotton: A Global History which uses a global perspective to show how cotton plantations in the Americas represented a clear departure from earlier cotton cultivation. This transformation was achieved through military and colonial power, the implementation of land titles, and the wide-spread use of slavery. While accepting the book’s argument that capitalism survives through practice (daily behaviours), Dr. Uekotter contends that greater attention to the ecology of cotton production would illustrate the ways in which capitalism wrestles with crises on multiple fronts and survives because of its ever-changing nature.
A Material History of Coca-Cola
Using Bartow Elmore’s Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism as the basis for this week’s discussion, Dr. Uekotter presents his theories on why the Coca-Cola company has been so successful despite its decision to eschew vertical integration in favour of a strategy of limited control over resources flows.
Growth! Growth! Growth!- Making Food History
This week Dr. Uekotter examines Liz Truss’s pledge to combat the ‘anti-growth coalition’ and the integral role a quest for growth plays in food history.
Making Food History
In this video, Dr. Uekotter explains why food history is such a dynamic area of study and how the MaMoGH project approaches the history of food from a new angle in hopes of making it resonate with the experiences of the 21stCentury world.