The Global Lives of Things considers the ways in which ‘things’, ranging from commodities to works of art and precious materials, participated in the shaping of global connections in the period 1400-1800. By focusing on the material exchange between Asia, Europe, the Americas and Australia, this volume traces the movements of objects through human networks of commerce, colonialism and consumption. It argues that material objects mediated between the forces of global economic exchange and the constantly changing identities of individuals, as they were drawn into global circuits. It proposes a reconceptualization of early modern global history in the light of its material culture by asking the question: what can we learn about the early modern world by studying its objects?

This exciting new collection draws together the latest scholarship in the study of material culture and offers students a critique and explanation of the notion of commodity and a reinterpretation of the meaning of exchange. It engages with the concepts of ‘proto-globalization’, ‘the first global age’ and ‘commodities/consumption’. Divided into three parts, the volume considers in Part One, Objects of Global Knowledge, in Part Two, Objects of Global Connections, and finally, in Part Three, Objects of Global Consumption. The collection concludes with afterwords from three of the leading historians in the field, Maxine Berg, Suraiya Faroqhi and Paula Findlen, who offer their critical view of the methodologies and themes considered in the book and place its arguments within the wider field of scholarship.

Extensively illustrated, and with chapters examining case studies from Northern Europe to China and Australia, this book will be essential reading for students of global history.

chapter |28 pages

The Global Lives of Things

Material culture in the first global age 1

part |74 pages

Objects of global knowledge

chapter |22 pages

The Coral Network

The trade of red coral to the Qing imperial court in the eighteenth century 1

part |78 pages

Objects of global connections

chapter |23 pages

Beyond The Kunstkammer

Brazilian featherwork in early modern Europe 1

chapter |17 pages

The Empire in the DUKE'S Palace

Global material culture in sixteenth-century Portugal

chapter |17 pages

Dishes, Coins and Pipes

The epistemological and emotional power of VOC material culture in Australia

chapter |19 pages

Encounters around the Material Object

French and Indian consumers in eighteenth-century Pondicherry 1

part |78 pages

Objects of global consumption

chapter |15 pages

Customs and Consumption

Russia's global tobacco habits in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries

chapter |23 pages

Sugar Revisited

Sweetness and the environment in the early modern world

chapter |20 pages

Coffee, Mind and Body

Global material culture and the eighteenth-century Hamburg import trade