The American Historical Association awarded Oil Palm: a Global History (UNC Press, 2021) the 2022 Jerry Bentley Prize. The Bentley prize recognizes the best book published the prior year on any topic in world or global-scale history.
Author Archives: jonathanrobins
Oil Palm wins Agricultural History Society Award
Oil Palm: a Global History received the 2021 Henry A. Wallace award from the Agricultural History Society. The award recognizes the best book on agricultural history outside the United States published in 2021.
I was interviewed about Oil Palm: a Global History for Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley’s award-winning Gastropod podcast. The episode titled “The Most Interesting Oil in the World” aired in December 2021.
Conference:”Raw and Refined: Commodities, Processing, and Global Perspectives”
‘The Raw and the Refined: Commodities, Processing, and Power in Global Perspective’ – Keynote Lecture Date2 September 2021, 4.30pm – 5.30pm Keynote Lecture for the 2021 Commodities of Empire Workshop ‘The Raw and the Refined: Commodities, Processing, and Power in Global Perspective’ Visit this link to register for the public keynote presented by Dr. Erika Rappaport titled “Tate andContinue reading “Conference:”Raw and Refined: Commodities, Processing, and Global Perspectives””
Hot industries in cold places
Oil palm is arguably the most important tropical tree crop. A few decades ago, the title would have gone to rubber, a tree that is well-commemorated in Britain’s Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. A decent specimen grows in the Palm House, though the tree is not a palm at all. (For a history of theContinue reading “Hot industries in cold places”
Illustrating oil palms
Who drew the first scientific illustration of an oil palm? Not this guy!
Palm oil and soap marketing
This image didn’t make the cut for Oil Palm: a Global History, but it’s remarkable for three reasons. First, it actually (or at least attempts to) depicts a West African person. Most Palmolive advertising pointed to a fictive Egyptian origin for palm oil, erasing West Africans from the commodity chain (see ad at bottom ofContinue reading “Palm oil and soap marketing”
The second in a series of palm oil photos that didn’t make the cut for Oil Palm: a Global History. This is the clearest photo of a hulk I’ve been able to locate. Unfortunately it’s still pretty boring. But these “hulks” played a vital role in turning southeastern Nigeria into the world’s biggest exporter ofContinue reading “Incredible hulks”
Making palm oil
This is the first in a series of images that didn’t make it in my new book, Oil Palm: a Global History. This photo was taken in the early twentieth century and printed on a postcard sold in the Gold Coast (today, Ghana). The back of the postcard unfortunately says nothing interesting. The photo showsContinue reading “Making palm oil”
Oil Palm: a Global History coming June 2021
My new book on the global history of the oil palm industry has a cover and a release date! Look for it in June 2021, from the University of North Carolina Press. Preorder now to take advantage of a 40% discount off the list price! Tracing the history of the oil palm tree out ofContinue reading “Oil Palm: a Global History coming June 2021”