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Journal ArticleDOI

From "black rice" to "brown": rethinking the history of risiculture in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic.

01 Feb 2010-The American Historical Review (Am Hist Rev)-Vol. 115, Iss: 1, pp 151-163
About: This article is published in The American Historical Review.The article was published on 2010-02-01. It has received 20 citations till now. The article focuses on the topics: Historiography.
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01 Jan 2015
TL;DR: In this article, Brühwiler et al. examined the relationship between credit and debt in Kariakoo, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and showed that credit relations were constitutive of various aspects of urban life including multi-racial neighborhood sub-communities, respectable identities, urban membership and belonging, urban livelihoods and entrepreneurship, and urban planning and governance.
Abstract: MORALITIES OF OWING AND LENDING: CREDIT, DEBT, AND URBAN LIVING IN KARIAKOO, DAR ES SALAAM By Benjamin Amani Brühwiler The literature on Africans and credit and debt is marked by a double binary. Scholars have tended to separate “traditional” or “informal” credit and debt relations from “modern” or “formal” financial institutions and instruments. In addition, scholars have either focused on the role credit and debt relations played in the economic realm or they have examined the social and cultural significance of debt and credit. As a result, the prevailing picture of Africans and finance in twentieth-century urban Africa is one of inadequacy, lack, and exclusion: the inadequacy of traditional forms of credit in market economies, Africans’ lack of access to formal financial institutions, and their exclusion from the modern world of finance. This dissertation challenges this doubly binary conceptualization and locates the myriad views and uses of credit and debt in one conceptual frame. It shows that credit and debt relations were constitutive of various aspects of urban life, including multi-racial neighborhood sub-communities, respectable identities, urban membership and belonging, urban livelihoods and entrepreneurship, and urban planning and governance. The Kariakoo neighborhood in Dar es Salaam serves as the locus to examine how debt and credit shaped work and business, social and communal life, and people’s identities and subjectivities in urban Africa. If debt is an anthropological and historical constant, the relations of debt and credit also changed significantly over the twentieth century when economists and planners as well as urban traders and lenders debated and shaped these relations and the multiple – at times competing, at times intersecting – moralities undergirding them. This dissertation contributes to our understanding of the ways and meanings of borrowing, investing, and doing business in urban Africa. First of all, it challenges histories of credit and finance in colonial and postcolonial Africa, which have focused exclusively on formal financial institutions to which few had access. In fact, wholesale traders at the Kariakoo market relied on an informal and long-established credit system known as mali kauli to trade agricultural products while having little cash at disposal. Kariakoo residents also turned semi-formal pawnshop credit to their advantage and proved to be reliable borrowers. Second of all, it shows the significance of credit and debt well beyond the economic sphere of urban life. Credit and debt relations were central to cosmopolitan neighborhood communities Kariakoo residents formed across racial and class categories. The availability of shop credit and pawnshop credit was a constitutive element of the urban experience, urban living, and urban belonging. Third of all, I demonstrate how the morality at the center of discourses and practices of debt repeatedly acted as fulcrum for reforming urban subjects. Colonial and postcolonial governments undertook repeated efforts to make urban residents more business-minded by impelling them to work on their creditworthiness and become “good debtors.” However, multiple moralities continued to exist in Kariakoo, which allowed urban residents to critically evaluate new forms of credit and debt and the attending moral discourses. Finally, I illustrate that the racial antagonisms between urban residents, which have dominated the literature on credit from the colonial era to the present, have obscured the intimate and long-standing relations of credit and debt between people of African, Arab, and Asian descent in various aspects of urban life. Following commodity trails and describing the workings of urban sub-communities, I show how Kariakoo residents of all hues and colors not only worked and lived together but also shared cultural notions of respectability, generosity, and shame. Copyright by BENJAMIN AMANI BRÜHWILER 2015

21 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examines rice as a staple commodity, one that both reflected and generated inter-colonial dependencies in both ocean worlds, and how that dependency was ultimately fraught, focusing on rice that both directly linked the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds and highlighted some structural issues of colonialism, globalization, and food security.
Abstract: In this paper we are concerned with some issues of inter-colonial dependency, especially in food and with a focus on rice that both directly linked the Atlantic and Indian Ocean worlds and that highlight some structural issues of colonialism, globalization, and food security more generally. This paper examines rice as a staple commodity, one that both reflected and generated inter-colonial dependencies in both ocean worlds, and how that dependency was ultimately fraught. Because the rice trade did not operate in isolation, we also of necessity include some discussion of important non-food crops such as cotton and jute. In the Caribbean, to greater or lesser extents, the colonial plantation economies relied on imported rice and other foodstuffs, needs supplied by other “knots” in the web, especially in the Carolina low country. Other British colonial possessions, too, were developed as “rice bowls” critical to the sustenance of colonized peoples and the support of commercial crops. One of these newer servi...

20 citations

Book
31 Oct 2019
TL;DR: The authors examines the environmental and technological complexity of South Carolina inland rice plantations from their inception at the turn of the seventeenth century to the brink of their institutional collapse at the eve of the Civil War.
Abstract: This book examines the environmental and technological complexity of South Carolina inland rice plantations from their inception at the turn of the seventeenth century to the brink of their institutional collapse at the eve of the Civil War. Inland rice cultivation provided a foundation for the South Carolina colonial plantation complex and enabled planters' participation in the Atlantic economy, dependence on enslaved labor, and dramatic alteration of the natural landscape. Moreover, the growing population of enslaved Africans led to a diversely-acculturated landscape unique to the Southeastern Coastal Plain. Despite this significance, Lowcountry inland rice cultivation has had an elusive history. Unlike many historical interpretations that categorize inland rice cultivation in a universal and simplistic manner, this study explains how agricultural systems varied among plantations. By focusing on planters' and slaves' alteration of the inland topography, this book emphasizes how agricultural methods met the demands of the local environment.

18 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
05 Sep 2019
TL;DR: A brief history of U.S. rice consumption from 1680 to 1960 traces the influences of race and region in shaping the prevalence of rice in certain communities over others as discussed by the authors.
Abstract: This brief history of U.S. rice consumption from 1680 to 1960 traces the influences of race and region in shaping the prevalence of rice in certain communities over others. It examines the earliest...

17 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article explored the social and political context embedded in Atlantic child slave biography, such as claims about family, parentage, and orphanhood in narratives of child enslavement, and examined the claims of orphanhood and the fictive kinship relations marshaled by James B. Covey, the interpreter during the trials of La Amistad, during his Atlantic passages as examples of the struggle against alienation to “remake” his political and social being.
Abstract: This article explores the social and political context embedded in Atlantic child slave biography, such as claims about family, parentage, and orphanhood in narratives of child enslavement. I examine the claims of orphanhood and the fictive kinship relations marshaled by James B. Covey, the interpreter during the trials of La Amistad , during his Atlantic passages as examples of the struggle against alienation to “remake” his political and social being. More than adult slaves, children deployed kinship language and idioms as part of a larger struggle to forge and preserve relationships with benefactors. Although kinship claims are an experience common across slave populations, a focus on the difficulties of writing a biography of child claims draws attention to the extreme vulnerability of child slaves and their pressing need for patron/client relationships.

17 citations