Journal of World History, Vol. 29, No. 3 (2018)

This issue of the Journal of World History includes the following scholarly articles:

Oil Boom: Agriculture, Chemistry, and the Rise of Global Plant Fat Industries, ca. 1850–1920
By Jonathan Robins

Fats extracted from plants and animals are an important and understudied part of the industrialization of the “global North” in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Demand for soap, lamp oil, candles, lubricants, and other products drove European and American efforts to extract fats from animals across the continents and oceans, and by the late nineteenth century a proportion of this fat entered the North’s food supply. Simultaneously, demand for edible and industrial fats appeared to be outstripping supplies. Plants emerged as an important source of fat in this period, as new technologies allowed plant fats to be transformed into more versatile and edible products. The transition to plant fats represented an important move down the food chain for Northern consumers, allowing for the efficient use of existing resources, as well as contributing to the ongoing extraction of raw materials from the tropics.

Spectacular Power in the Early Han and Roman Empires
By Rebecca Robinson

During their long reigns, Emperor Wu of the Western Han and Augustus of Rome respectively performed two spectacular ceremonies, the feng and shan sacrifices and the ludi saeculares. The performance of these ceremonies took place during a larger process of reforms to each state’s religious institutions and marked the culmination of these reforms. While there is no direct connection between the two rulers or their respective ceremonies, some of the salient characteristics can be compared. In both cases, the rulers claimed to revive ancient ceremonies, but incorporated new narratives of rulership into their performance. These spectacular ceremonies, performed in front of audiences, demonstrated the exalted position of the ruler, as well as the acceptance of the elites to the new order.

Beyond ‘Tribal Breakout’: Afghans in the History of Empire, ca. 1747–1818
By Jagjeet Lally

The narrative of ‘Tribal Breakout’ has allowed world historians to avoid narratives of the ‘decline of the East’ and the ‘rise of the West’—but only by casting Afghans as tribals whose incursions destabilized the Asian empires. This essay seeks to retrieve the constructive agency of Afghans during the so-called ‘colonial transition’ in South Asia. Their seizure of plunder was disbursed via the patronage of commercial groups, while careful economic management even led to economic expansion in a manner typical of some eighteenth-century states, thereby lubricating long-distance trade between south and central Asia. This was part of a process of Afghan state formation rooted in developments within the Mughal Empire, was typical of a process of imperial expansion evident in the histories of other empires, such as the Mughals, Ottomans, and Qing, and, thus, yields much to scholars interested in the patterns and processes of early-modern empires in general.

Plus book reviews.

Journal of World History 29-3 cover
Journal of World History, Volume 29, No. 3 (2018)