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Global Trade and the Transformation of Consumer Cultures
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Book description

The oceanic explorations of the 1490s led to countless material innovations worldwide and caused profound ruptures. Beverly Lemire explores the rise of key commodities across the globe, and charts how cosmopolitan consumption emerged as the most distinctive feature of material life after 1500 as people and things became ever more entangled. She shows how wider populations gained access to more new goods than ever before and, through industrious labour and smuggling, acquired goods that heightened comfort, redefined leisure and widened access to fashion. Consumption systems shaped by race and occupation also emerged. Lemire reveals how material cosmopolitanism flourished not simply in great port cities like Lima, Istanbul or Canton, but increasingly in rural settlements and coastal enclaves. The book uncovers the social, economic and cultural forces shaping consumer behaviour, as well as the ways in which consumer goods shaped and defined empires and communities.


‘This exquisitely crafted book transforms our understanding of early modern material culture and provides a new global framework of analysis. Lemire shows how cloth and clothing, fur, tobacco and other global commodities reshaped people's habits, social practices and material expectations in different parts of the world.'

Giorgio Riello - University of Warwick

‘Beverly Lemire, a leading scholar of the history of European fashion, clothing and consumer culture, suggests that changes to consumer consumption in the early modern period were inherently global. In so doing, she refocuses the agents of globalization from Europe to the globe, from elites and the middle class to the subaltern, and from where things are produced to where people live their lives.'

Kaoru Sugihara - Research Institute for Humanity and Nature, Kyoto

‘Lemire takes the study of early globalization and material culture a large step further with this book. Cosmopolitan consumption, her term for the integration of new goods into the material cultures of the world's peoples, succeeds in creating a truly global history of evolving consumer practices. This study abounds with fresh insights into the agency of goods and agency of ordinary people.'

Jan de Vries - University of California, Berkeley

'… an important project dedicated to decentering our understanding of global commodity flows through both written and material cultural evidence.'

Jane Hooper Source: Canadian Journal of History

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