Mapping Material Culture through Indian Ocean Trade: Cotton in the Global Economy over Time and Today

Saturday, February 25, 2017, 9:00 am - 2:30 pm, ICC#141

Teaching economics can be challenging, and is often done—when it is done at all—in a rushed survey course focused on abstract principles. This workshop offers the opportunity to add dynamism to economic history by focusing on fashions made of cotton cloth, which are as old as trade itself. Cotton is one of many ancient products that are now global trade commodities, which achieved global reach through Indian Ocean monsoon trade. The workshop/seminar will feature presentations ranging from the origins of cotton technologies and designs to the apprenticeship of European cotton production to Indian artisans, and concludes with economic, labor and consumer issues around the global fashion industry in the region today.

Teachers will receive a teaching unit specially commissioned for this workshop, on the influence of Indian cotton on early European industrialization, as well as a fascinating book on globalization of fashion, and other materials. This approach focuses on the tangible and familiar, giving students the ability to interact with the subject material based on their own experiences and in order to revisit the industrial revolution as a moment of upheaval and disruption, but also vital influence from an ancient industry that lent the modern world products so familiar that they seem indigenous to our own culture.

Lunch will be provided.  Register here.

This workshop is made possible by Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies and a Title VI grant from the U.S. Department of Education, which is funding a National Resource Center on the Middle East at Georgetown.