This workshop is part of a project bringing together a core group of scholars working collectively at the intersection of history of science and technology, history of commodities and history of food, to experiment with space and time scales in historical writing. Our goal is to produce narratives of crops on the move through areas of the globe beyond the West crossing different time periods. The enlargement of historical scale reveals important size-scale effects with crops originally cultivated and processed small-scale converted into large-scale enterprises. We are particularly interested in detailing the planning processes involving circulation of knowledge, artefacts and skills necessary to move crops around.
Considering the increasing interest in questions of circulation by historians of science and technology, the project constitutes an opportunity to engage with the more ambitious historical accounts of global histories. This may be particularly useful in avoiding the typical over-simplifications of world history when invoking science, technology, or nature in its explanations of globalization processes. Not all moved crops became commodities integrated in world markets. Sometimes a new class of smallholders developed around introduced crops, complicating a history that has too often been written as a natural evolution from local to global, from small to large, from subsistence to commercialization, from traditional to modern.