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Eating the World: A Global History of Law and Commodities

Martin Clark and Yoriko Otomo

Commodities have always been the building blocks of trade, commerce, and industry. They are nature made into resource: gathered, cultivated, bought and sold for the consumption and continuation of all aspects of human life. Today’s major commodities — from staple crops like wheat and rice, to precious minerals like coltan or diamonds, to the basis of transportation in rubber and oil — tell the story of the global economy in microcosms. Law’s role in this story is profound. It justifies the taking and sale of natural resources. It has always regulated, categorised and structured transfers of materials across the world. It creates certain kinds of ‘justice’ and ‘rights’ by facilitating other injustices, dispossessions and oppressions.

Eating the World: An Introduction to Global Histories of Law and Commodities is the first textbook to cover the complex questions of law, regulation, theory and impacts of global commodities. It covers the histories and theories of a range of important commodities and their contexts of empire, gender, consumption, luxuries, free/fair trade. It offers texts, case studies, legal instruments and case law, joined together by expert commentary and placed in context, to guide readers in thinking through this complex and significant area of modern life and law.

This book is an ideal central or supporting text for a wide range of college and university courses throughout the world, suitable for undergraduate, postgraduate and research higher degree students in law, history, critical studies, international relations, development studies, economics, political theory and sociology. Finally, Eating the World speaks directly to the student’s place in today’s neoliberal university. It urges them to reflect critically not just on commodities and trade, but also on the commodification of their own learning, to see pathways for understanding, critiquing and resisting global capitalism in the era of catastrophic climate change.

Due 2024 (Notify when available)