Jonathan E. Robins

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  • Assistant Professor of History
  • Undergraduate History Major Coordinator
  • PhD, University of Rochester, 2010
  • BA, St. Mary's College of Maryland, 2004

Links of Interest

Areas of Expertise

  • History of Globalization
  • Economic History
  • History of Imperialism and Colonialism
  • International Business Organization
  • Commodity Studies
  • History of Food

Recent Publications

  • Cotton and Race across the Atlantic: Britain, Africa, and America, 1900-1920 (University of Rochester Press: Rochester, 2016) Read More
  • Robins, Jonathan. “Lancashire and the ‘Undeveloped Estates’: Cotton and development in the British Empire,” Journal of British Studies 54, vol. 5 (2015) Read More
  • Robins, Jonathan. “ ‘A Common Brotherhood for their Mutual Benefit’: Sir Charles Macara and the Internationalization of the Cotton Industry.” Enterprise and Society 16, vol. 4 (2015), 847-888. Read More
  • Robins, Jonathan. “Coercion and Resistance in the Colonial Market: Cotton in Britain’s African Empire,” in Jonathan Curry-Machado (ed.), Global Histories, Imperial Commodities, Local Interactions, pp. 100-120. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013. Read More
  • Jonathan E. Robins. 2012. “Slave Cocoa and Red Rubber: E.D. Morel and the Problem of Ethical Consumption.” Comparative Studies in Society and History 54. 3: pp. 591-611. Read More
  • Jonathan E. Robins. 2010. “Colonial Cuisine: Food in British Nigeria, 1900-1914.” Cultural Studies – Critical Methodologies 10. 6: 457-466. Special issue on Food and Power. Read More

Recent Funding

  • Cornell College of Human Ecology Dean's Fellowship (2016)
  • Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning Blended Learning Grant: "Global Issues Blended Learning Initiative" (January 2015), with Don LaFreniere.


  • Scheduled: “Transnational business encounters in the twentieth century: informal company networks, cartels and business interest associations compared.” World Economic History Conference, Economic History Association and International Economic History Association, Boston, July-August 2018.
  • Scheduled: “Suited to Malaya? Origins of the Oil Palm Industry in Colonial Malaysia.” American Society for Environmental History conference, Riverside, CA, March 2018.
  • Scheduled: “Nucleus Estates and Pioneer Mills: Models for Development in the Oil Palm Industry.” African Studies Association conference, Chicago, November 2017.
  • “Capitalists, smallholders, and states on the oil palm frontier.” Global Commodity Frontiers in Comparative Historical Context workshop, Commodities of Empire British Academy Research Project (Institute of Latin American Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London and the Institute of the Americas, University College), and the international ‘Commodity Frontiers’ research initiative (International Institute of Social History, Amsterdam, the University of Ghent, and Harvard University). London, December 2016.
  • “‘Easy-made drink’ and the struggle over oil palm trees in colonial Ghana, 1900-1939.” African Studies Association conference, Washington DC, December 2016.
  • “Food comes First: Creating a ‘Food Problem’ in Colonial Ghana.” Midwest Conference on British Studies, Ames, IA, September 2016.
  • “From Hogless Lard to Smart Balance: Vegetable fats and the transformation of global food industries , 1850-1950.” American Society for Environmental History Conference, Washington DC, April 2015.

Research Projects

  • I am current researching a book on the global history of the oil palm tree and the palm oil industry. Based on archival research on four continents, the book will trace the origins and evolution of the oil palm industry, highlighting the ways in which technology, markets and state power reshaped landscapes, altered foodways, and transformed the oil palm tree itself.

Courses taught

  • SS4500 – Historiography
  • SS2504 World History to 1500
  • SS2505 World History since 1500
  • SS3951 Topics in World History
  • UN1025 Global Issues