From the transatlantic slave trade to empire building by the great colonial powers; from international trade to the second-hand clothing industry in developing countries; cotton, it seems, is a subject for all the ages, yet also an industry in real peril. Here is a selection of book reviews and blog posts examining cotton’s place in history and our modern world.

Photo Credit: Gloria Cabada-Leman via Flickr ( CC BY 2.0

  1. Book Review: Cotton by Adam Sneyd
    In Cotton, Adam Sneyd brings the reality of international trade into focus through tracing the local and global politics behind the circulation of one of the most everyday of materials: cotton. This is a vividly told, interrogative read that establishes its author as a leading expert on the politics of commodities and development, finds Dr Milasoa Chérel-Robson.
  2. Book Review: Cotton and Race Across the Atlantic: Britain, Africa, and America, 1900-1920 by Jonathan E Robins
    Cotton and Race Across the Atlantic: Britain, Africa and America 1900-1920 tells the story of how African farmers, African-American scientists and British businessmen struggled to turn colonial Africa into a major exporter of cotton. In doing so,  it makes a significant contribution to the global history of cotton and our understandings about the long durée of capitalism, according to Jonathan Silver.
  3. Book Review – Clothing Poverty: the Hidden World of Fast Fashion and Second-hand Clothes by Andrew Brooks
    Clothing Poverty uncovers how fast fashion retailers and charity shops are embroiled in commodity chains which perpetuate poverty. This volume should be of immense intellectual stimulation to anyone searching for inspiring examples of writing about a capitalist system as a whole rather than isolated capitalist actors, says Dagna Rams.

  4. Indian cotton textiles in the eighteenth-century Atlantic economy
    Kazuo Kobayashi explains how the demand for Indian cotton textiles among Africans underpinned the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the eighteenth century.


The views expressed in this post are those of the author and in no way reflect those of the Africa at LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.