Interviews | January 26, 2015
Read more about `Unweaving Sven Beckert's "Empire of Cotton: A Global History"`
A global history of cotton, Sven Beckert explains in Empire of Cotton, is enlightening for several reasons. Firstly, its spatial organization shifted radically during the last three hundred years. Due to the difficulties of growing cotton in cold, damp Europe, Eurasia or North America, it should come as no surprise that most cotton cultivation–and, for ages–production was confined to local industries in places like China and, above all, India. But by the 18th and 19th century, a radical shift was underway, as the finished production of cotton goods shifted towards what we now identify as the industrial heartlands of the North Atlantic economy: the textile mills of northern England and a panoply of mill towns in Continental Europe and North America.