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Research project

Making Coffee Global: World Collections, African Forests and Geopower (1933-1961)

Scholars have already made coffee into a major player in histories of imperialism, globalization and capitalism. This project aims to further investigate this theme by approaching it through the lens of scientific practices. How did coffee and scientists contribute to imagine new political relations at the global scale? This is the main question this project wants to address. 

This project builds on a previous research on the importance of Robusta coffee in defining the nature of Portuguese colonialism. It further explores the ways coffee and scientists shaped the social and political order, but this time from a transnational perspective that goes beyond the Portuguese case. It reflects on the notion of geopower as a kind of political rationality that takes the administration and control of the whole Earth planet as its subject. World collections of coffee seeds, plants and pests are the forms of geopower analyzed here, the window to discuss the role of scientists in weaving international, national and colonial agendas, and the ways Arabica and Robusta coffee plants, with their deep histories in Ethiopian and Angolan forests respectively, shaped processes of political imagination.

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