Cover image for Corn & capitalism : how a botanical bastard grew to global dominance
Title:
Corn & capitalism : how a botanical bastard grew to global dominance
Author:
Warman, Arturo.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Historia de un bastardo
Publication Information:
Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, [2003]

©2003
Physical Description:
xiii, 270 pages ; 24 cm.
Summary:
Exploring the history and importance of corn worldwide, Arturo Warman traces its development from a New World food of poor and despised peoples into a commodity that plays a major role in the modern global economy. The book combines approaches from anthropology, social history, and political economy to tell the story of corn, a "botanical bastard" of unclear origins that cannot reseed itself and is instead dependent on agriculture for propagation. Beginning in the Americas, Warman depicts corn as colonizer. Disparaged by the conquistadors, this Native American staple was embraced by the destitute of the Old World. In time, corn spread across the globe as a prodigious food source for both humans and livestock. Warman also reveals corn's role in nourishing the African slave trade. Through the history of one plant with enormous economic importance, Warman investigates large-scale social and economic processes, looking at the role of foodstuffs in the competition between nations and the perpetuation of inequalities between rich and poor states in the world market. Praising corn's almost unlimited potential for future use as an intensified source of starch, sugar, and alcohol, Warman also comments on some of the problems he foresees for large-scale, technology-dependent monocrop agriculture.
Language:
English
Subject Term:
ISBN:
9780807827666

9780807854372
Format :
Book

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Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Status
Central Library SB191.M2 W34 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Summary

Summary

Exploring the history and importance of corn worldwide, Arturo Warman traces its development from a New World food of poor and despised peoples into a commodity that plays a major role in the modern global economy.



The book, first published in Mexico in 1988, combines approaches from anthropology, social history, and political economy to tell the story of corn, a "botanical bastard" of unclear origins that cannot reseed itself and is instead dependent on agriculture for propagation. Beginning in the Americas, Warman depicts corn as colonizer. Disparaged by the conquistadors, this Native American staple was embraced by the destitute of the Old World. In time, corn spread across the globe as a prodigious food source for both humans and livestock. Warman also reveals corn's role in nourishing the African slave trade.



Through the history of one plant with enormous economic importance, Warman investigates large-scale social and economic processes, looking at the role of foodstuffs in the competition between nations and the perpetuation of inequalities between rich and poor states in the world market. Praising corn's almost unlimited potential for future use as an intensified source of starch, sugar, and alcohol, Warman also comments on some of the problems he foresees for large-scale, technology-dependent monocrop agriculture.


Reviews 1

Choice Review

Writing in this social chronological world history, Mexican anthropologist Warman maintains that corn has played an important role in history. Corn has generated a more sustained world value than any other American resource. The seven major food crops of the world provide at least half the nutrients consumed, and the American contributions of corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and cassava account for more than a third of the world's food. Chapters describe American plants as world treasures, indicating the importance of these crops to feeding humankind; the history of corn; the origin of corn; and the early history of corn in the Orient. Other chapters discuss corn and slavery in Africa; corn's introduction into Africa and colonial struggle; corn throughout Europe; and the deficiency disease pellagra. "Corn in the United States" describes how a primary corn diet caused pellagra on this continent during the Civil War, and the treatment for the disease. Discussed are American trade policy, from fur export to dependency on corn; equilibrium between oil prices and grain prices and how this equilibrium has shifted in favor of oil; how food has become a powerful resource in political strategy and international negotiations; how scientific agriculture affects food production; and how genetic engineering achieves greater crop yields. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. H. W. Ockerman Ohio State University


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