Conceptualizing Historical Commodity Studies: the Case of Soy
Sprache des Vortragstitels:
Rural History 2023
Sprache des Tagungstitel:
In recent years, the ?new history of capitalism? has revived commodities as a focus of historical research. In the first part, the paper discusses potentials and limitations of three approaches to historical commodity studies with regard to agriculture and food: food regime analysis, transition theory and commodity-focused approaches (commodity chains, social life of things, actor-network, etc.). The second part argues that food regime analysis, transition theory and commodity-focused approaches, sometimes conceived as competing approaches, in effect complement each other. The complementary interrelations between the separate approaches constitute an integrative framework that is more than the sum of its parts ? the triad of commodity studies. According to the triadic logic, the three approaches are mutually interwoven: each of them is necessary for the whole and none of them is sufficient in itself. In the third part, the case of soy is outlined in order to assess the applicability of the integrated framework. Soy is conceived as ?state-supported commodity? from the perspective of food regime analysis, as ?techno-scientific innovation? from the perspective of transition studies and as ?protagonist-antagonist? from the perspective of commodity-focused approaches. The paper concludes that soy emerged as a key commodity of global capitalism in the 20th century, similarly to sugar in the 18th century and cotton in the 19th century.