a1 Rutgers University
A common feature in almost any world atlas is the colorful, symbol-driven commodity maps that identify national and global regions by the production of specific types of crops or the extraction of natural resources found there. Oranges grow in the state of Florida in the United States; copper is mined in the northern region of Chile; perhaps tiny representations of sheep indicate that Australia is a major producer of wool. These visual productions of space are both compelling and misleading, implying that access to the world's bounty is as simple as knowing where things are located within a larger division and ordering of the world. Yet oranges are not indigenous to Florida, and their contemporary mass production is made possible largely by the employment of undocumented migrant workers and the legal exclusions that make them a cheap source of labor. Without well-funded and meticulously crafted campaigns urging residents living in temperate climates to purchase and consume oranges year round, oranges' profitable hold in Florida would likewise not be sustainable. Such complexities raise the question, where are the maps that illustrate the dynamic cultural, labor, and political relationships between the commodities and the places where they are produced?
Andy Urban is an ACLS New Faculty Fellow in the American Studies and History departments at Rutgers University. In 2009–10, he worked as a Research Fellow at Emory University, where he conducted research on the relationship between colleges in the post-Civil War South and missionary work in Asia. His current project, The Empire of the Home: Race, Domestic Labor, and the Political Economy of Servitude in the United States, 1850–1920, examines how the nineteenth-century “servant problem” reflected anxieties about the maintenance of social order as the United States expanded nationally, ended slavery, and encountered new sources of labor through immigration.