Call for Papers: Rural History 2021 Session Proposal – Starch: Production, commercialisation and effect on agrarian system

RHN 106/2020 | Call

Organisers: Luca Andreoni (Università politecnica delle Marche) and Laurent Herment (CNRS UMR 8558)

Rural History 2021, 23–26 August 2021, Uppsala, Sweden

Call for Sessions deadline: 15 September 2020


Call for Papers for a Rural History 2021 Session Proposal
Starch: Production, commercialisation and effect on agrarian system

Existing studies have largely explored the production and the commercialisation of grains, potatoes, and more generally edible carbohydrates. Yet, for centuries, grains (wheat) were used to produce starch. The same occurred with potatoes since the eighteenth century. During the nineteenth century, starch was a versatile product used by several industries, in culinary art, to feed animal, etc. We could find the same versatility in the crops used as raw materials to produce starch, such as wheat, potato, rice, maize, cassava, etc., and their by-products (oilseed cakes, bran, etc.). The production of starch is also a fertile ground to observe the relation between agriculture, agro-industry and chemistry, which became crucial during the 19th century. Finally, the diversity of raw materials, from wheat to cassava, to produce starch, and its derivative products, implied a competition between plants from all over the world. This competition became more and more pronounced with the revolution of transport and the enlargement of colonial territories during the second part of the 19th century.

Until today, the literature about the history of production of starch is poor (see Burton, 1948 and Salaman, 1985 who examine briefly the production of starch from potatoes). This session aims to shed light on the farming and the processing of crops used to produce starch during the 19th and 20th centuries. The present session will not only explore the technical and scientific issues but also the economic and social issues connected to these agro-industrial productions: prices and substitutability between different raw materials, competition between production for food and production for industrial purpose, etc. Thanks to the variety of raw materials used to produce starch, it will also be possible to compare cases from Africa, Europe, South and North America, and Asia.



The Rural History 2021 Call for Sessions can be found in RHN 61/2020.

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