Why ‘Big Sugar’ Survives: A Seminar with Dr Roger Knight, March 9, 2016

Food Values Research Group Seminar Series

Our new seminar series presented by the Food Values Research Group aims to bring together researchers from diverse fields with an interest in food production and consumption. At our initial seminar in February, we enjoyed engaging presentations from Dr Christine Knight (University of Edinburgh), Ms Jessica Loyer (University of Adelaide), and Dr Michelle Phillipov (University of Tasmania). For our second seminar, we are pleased to present:

Why ‘Big Sugar’ Survives: The Strange Case of Indonesia Since the 1930s

Assoc Professor Roger Knight, University of Adelaide

Dr Roger Knight, scholar of sugar history in IndonesiaIt was remarked recently that sugar is likely to become the ‘new’ tobacco – a product whose human consumption is coming under increasingly critical scrutiny. Seen in this context, my paper is about the political economy of the persisting production and consumption of one the world’s major – and increasingly contested – commodities. Its focus is on developments in Indonesia, where the island of Java was once one of the world’s greatest producer-exporters of industrially manufactured sugar and where, against the odds it might seem, the commodity has continued to be produced since its export potential collapsed in the middle years of the last century. It sets out to explain why an ex-colonial industry survived – and still survives – in the seemingly very different circumstances of the postcolonial era.

G. Roger Knight recently retired as Associate Professor in the Department of History, University of Adelaide. He is author, inter alia, of Commodities and Colonialism. The Story of Big Sugar in Indonesia 1880-1940 (Leiden & Boston, Brill, 2013) and Sugar Steam and Steel. The Industrial Project in Colonial Java 1830-1885 (Adelaide, Adelaide University Press, 2014). His latest book – which has blissfully little to do with sugar – is Trade and Empire in Early Nineteenth Century Southeast Asia. Gillian Maclaine and his Business Network, 1816-1840 (Woodbridge UK and Rochester NY, Boydell & Brewer, 2015).

When: Wednesday, 9th of March, 1-2 PM

Where: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

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