Eric Tagliacozzo - How the Indian Ocean Spice Trade Made the World Modern

Keynote address at the 11th annual ADI conference, University of Copenhagen

Eric TagliacozzoEric Tagliacozzo, Professor of History, Cornell University, will give a keynote address "How the Indian Ocean Spice Trade Made the World Modern", as part of the 11th annual ADI Conference held at University of Copenhagen.

The quest for spices brought the world together in ways that we only recognize now. Though spices have been in circulation since Antiquity, it really was roughly from the "Contact Age" forward (circa 1500 CE) that they began to play an absolutely vital role in connecting the world's scattered societies. Prior to that, the Mediterranean Basin and India were thinly connected by spices; further to the east, India and Southeast Asia were too, as were Southeast Asia and China further east from that. Han Dynasty princes were found buried with cloves in their mouths two thousand years ago (and cloves only grew thousands of kilometers away in Indonesia then). Venice built an empire on the control of spices from Asia, and Istanbul did the same after the age of the Venetians was gone. This lecture looks at these old histories as an engine for global connection.  The barks and seeds of Asia ended up launching the beginnings of the imperial age, when European state-making projects under the guise of "East India Companies" eventually carved up much of the known world. We will follow this process and learn a bit about the objects of this unparalleled affection-the spices themselves-along the way. We take the pepper, seasonings, and salt on our dinner tables for granted. We shouldn't. What could be more prosaic? Yet these and other spices are one reason we are all here together, in a world that today we all commonly share.

All are welcome!

The lecture is part of the 11th annual ADI Conference.