Cotton and Race across the Atlantic

Cotton and Race across the Atlantic

Britain, Africa, and America, 1900-1920

Jonathan E. Robins


University of Rochester Press



The story of how African farmers, African-American scientists, and British businessmen struggled to turn colonial Africa into a major cotton exporter.
During the first two decades of the twentieth century, demand for raw cotton in Europe, Asia, and America outstripped production as African Americans migrated away from Southern cotton fields. Consequently, industrialists in Europe turned to Africa for new sources of cotton.

This volume documents the efforts by British financiers and colonial officials, along with some African-American allies, to bring the American model of cotton production to colonial Africa. In a narrative featuring a host of characters -- including British entrepreneurs, African kings, and African-American scientists -- author Jonathan Robins weaves together events in Africa, Britain, and the American South. Robins chronicles the origins, failings, and eventual evolution of Britain's colonial cotton project, revealing the global forces and actors that moved and transformed the international cotton industry.

Jonathan E. Robins is assistant professor of global history at Michigan Technological University.


11 black and white illustrations
312 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora
Hardback, 9781580465670, November 2016
eBook, 9781782048510, November 2016
University of Rochester Press
BISAC HIS001050, POL045000, BUS023000
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Related Titles

Table of Contents

The Cotton Crisis: Lancashire, the American South, and the Turn to "Empire Cotton"
"The Black Man's Crop": The British Cotton Growing Association and Africa
"The Scientific Redemption of Africa": Coercion and Regulation in Colonial Agriculture
"King Cotton's Impoverished Retinue": Making Cotton a "White Man's Crop" in the American South
Cotton, Development, and the "Imperial Burden"


This book makes a significant contribution to the global history of cotton and our understandings about the long durée of capitalism. Offering a detailed account, grounded both in well-researched detail and reflective attention to how historical knowledge is produced, Robins has succeeded in producing an important and timely publication. AFRICA AT LSE

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