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Cotton and the Ecology of Industrial Capitalism in the Indo-Atlantic

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Abstract:

This paper derives from a dissertation chapter. The broader project uses cotton, the world’s first global industrial commodity, as an analytical lens into the environmental history of capitalism. It injects a material and environmental perspective into a field of study that has enjoyed renewed scholarly interest since the onset of the most recent American economic recession. The dissertation argues that the industrialization of cotton textile production created a transnational ecology linking urban “shock cities” such as Manchester and its surrounding complex of cotton towns with rural environments oceans away from it that was increasingly conditioned by the imperatives of industrial capitalism.

“Cotton and the Ecology of Industrial Capitalism in the Indo-Atlantic” examines environmental change associated with industrial cotton production in the global countryside and the emerging urban industrial core between the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the expansion of cotton-driven settler colonialism in the American Southwest, and the widespread adoption of steam powered spinning and, later, weaving in Lancashire. Mutually-reinforcing environmental change based on the imperatives of industrial cotton production facilitated an expansion of slavery and cotton monoculture in the Deep South and the industrial ecology of Lancashire within environmental constraints. The frontier plantation, the factory, and the ecological network linking these otherwise unrelated environments emerged as definitive spaces of industrial capitalism. Meanwhile, British merchants, the East India Company, and manufacturers sought with marginal success to recast the relationships between capital, land, and labor in the Indian countryside based in part on the American model in order to improve cotton resource security. This was increasingly important to the social metabolism of urban industrial regions such as Lancashire. While the Indian smallholder’s resilience to European capital and the coercion embedded within it frustrated these efforts, Lancashire’s textile producers drove India’s once prosperous weaving class out of business and into the fields.
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Name: ASEH Annual Conference
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http://aseh.net


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171333_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Ippen, William. "Cotton and the Ecology of Industrial Capitalism in the Indo-Atlantic" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL, <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171333_index.html>

APA Citation:

Ippen, W. "Cotton and the Ecology of Industrial Capitalism in the Indo-Atlantic" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ASEH Annual Conference, Drake Hotel, Chicago, IL <Not Available>. 2018-01-10 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p1171333_index.html

Publication Type: Panel Paper
Abstract: This paper derives from a dissertation chapter. The broader project uses cotton, the world’s first global industrial commodity, as an analytical lens into the environmental history of capitalism. It injects a material and environmental perspective into a field of study that has enjoyed renewed scholarly interest since the onset of the most recent American economic recession. The dissertation argues that the industrialization of cotton textile production created a transnational ecology linking urban “shock cities” such as Manchester and its surrounding complex of cotton towns with rural environments oceans away from it that was increasingly conditioned by the imperatives of industrial capitalism.

“Cotton and the Ecology of Industrial Capitalism in the Indo-Atlantic” examines environmental change associated with industrial cotton production in the global countryside and the emerging urban industrial core between the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the expansion of cotton-driven settler colonialism in the American Southwest, and the widespread adoption of steam powered spinning and, later, weaving in Lancashire. Mutually-reinforcing environmental change based on the imperatives of industrial cotton production facilitated an expansion of slavery and cotton monoculture in the Deep South and the industrial ecology of Lancashire within environmental constraints. The frontier plantation, the factory, and the ecological network linking these otherwise unrelated environments emerged as definitive spaces of industrial capitalism. Meanwhile, British merchants, the East India Company, and manufacturers sought with marginal success to recast the relationships between capital, land, and labor in the Indian countryside based in part on the American model in order to improve cotton resource security. This was increasingly important to the social metabolism of urban industrial regions such as Lancashire. While the Indian smallholder’s resilience to European capital and the coercion embedded within it frustrated these efforts, Lancashire’s textile producers drove India’s once prosperous weaving class out of business and into the fields.


 
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