By David Pretel

This article reconsiders the production of tropical forest commodities during the industrial age. It argues that writing the global history of jungle commodities requires combining an analysis of local production with larger histories of trans-local interaction and exchange. To that end, this article exposes the nineteenth- and twentieth-century production connections between jungle frontiers in Africa, Asia, and Latin America and industries and research laboratories in Europe and North America. While tropical forests are usually seen as places of basic raw material extraction, this article alternatively presents them as complex technological landscapes, where production is entangled with chemical, consumer, electrical, and pharmaceutical industries. Significant accounts of tropical forest labor activities shed light on what techniques and skills were required for producing vital global commodities and how these changed over time.


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