Archives par mot-clé : technologies et techniques

Materiality of Rubber: An Emerging Past from the Brazilian Amazon that Entangled the World

Article de Tiago Muniz publié dans la revue International Journal of Historical Archaeology.

Résumé : This article analyzes the history of the natural rubber industry in the Brazilian Amazon, including the colonialist involvement of the British Empire and the industrial heritage of rubber. It provides an overview of the natural rubber species, tapping and extraction systems, and the establishment of rubber plantations that entangled and modernized the world. The present article considers the role of actants and entanglements between human and non-human agencies in the forest as coproducers of knowledge and resistance. In conclusion, the wide variety of works and approaches on the archaeology of rubber and its industrial heritage is presented and offers perspectives for new debates.

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The struggle for natural rubber  

 or how its local processes and global stories moved (around) the world

Participation de Tiago Muniz à la Journée des Jeunes Chercheurs du Centre Alexandre-Koyré, les 11 et 12 mai 2023.

Résumé :

The rubber case is probably the best example of botanical colonialism in global history. During the 19th century, it became massively common to acquire other country’s flora. In 1876, Sir Henry Wickham shipped 70.000 Hevea brasiliensis seeds from the Lower Amazon (Para State, Brazil) to Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanical Gardens in London. Rubber plantations were very profitable investements worldwide – with different lactescent species and actors involved. The high demand for rubber items for the industry (gaskets, personal proctetive equipement and tires) and medicine (surgical gloves) made the economy in Brazil grow. But that boom was faded to collapse as the southeastern asia plantations entered the global market. So, by the end of the rubber boom (1850-1920) the rubber tappers and entire villages were left behind at the Amazon – and yet we can see these fading tales of nature domination in the landscape. In pursue of historical records, museological discourses and materiality debates this research aims to identify rubber types, enterprises and historical characteres that played an important role in the colonial circulation of plants and knowledge around the globe – with special fous in comparing the British and French empires’ efforts in the struggle for rubber. Follow the rubber path, from the Amazon to Europe and so on Asia, this project aims to collaborate with many research centers worldwide. After its first phase analyzing collections in Europe, the project aims to go back to fieldwork at the very same place where Sir Wickham collected the rubber seeds and document elder practices, techniques systems, environmental perceptions and amazonian knowledge. Finally, the expected outputs are to contribute to the history of science and technology, global south debates in globalization  and the materialities of rubber within the environmental hummanities approach.

Keywords: Ethnology of nature and envinronment, Technologies and techniques, Plantations and plantionocene, Entanglements and non-humans, Globalization and commodities, Amazon/Asia.