Jonathan E. Robins
- Associate Professor of History
- PhD, University of Rochester, 2010
- BA, St. Mary's College of Maryland, 2004
Jonathan Robins is an award-winning historian of commodities, environments, and politics. He has published on oils and fats, fiber crops and textile industries, food and consumption, economic development, and environmental and labor history broadly. He serves on the steering committee of the Commodities of Empire projectand as global book review editor for Agricultural History
For prospective graduate students:
I work with graduate students in the IHA, EEP, and Sustainable Communities programs. I typically do not serve as primary adviser for students in these programs, but I welcome inquiries from applicants interested in the historical dimensions of industry, heritage, environments and environmental policy, and other related topics. Applicants should identify another faculty member as a possible primary adviser, unless the proposed topic is primarily historical in nature.
Links of Interest
Areas of Expertise
- Commodity history
- Global economic and business history
- History of colonialism
- Food history
- Oil Palm: a Global History. University of North Carolina Press, 2021. Winner of the 2022 AHA Bentley Prize for best book in world history and 2022 Agricultural History Society Wallace Award for best book in agricultural history outside the US.
- "Shallow Roots: The Early Oil Palm Plantation Industry in Southeast Asia, 1848-1940." Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 51, no. 4 (2020)
- "Humans and other pollinators in the oil palm plantation complex." Arcadia no. 8 (Spring 2021)
- "Oil Boom: agriculture, chemistry, and the rise of the global plant fats industry," Journal of World History 29.3 (2018)
- "Smallholders and machines in the West African oil palm industry," African Economic History 46.1 (2018)
- "Imbibing the lesson of defiance": Oil palms and alcohol in colonial Ghana, Environmental History 23.2 (2018)
- Cotton and Race across the Atlantic: Britain, Africa, and America, 1900-1920 (University of Rochester Press: Rochester, 2016) Read More
- Aluminum Critical Mineral Production via Landfill Mining: Environmental, Community, and Technical Feasibility for Integrated Multi-Material Resource Recovery, Department of Energy (co-PI with PI Paul Sanders and co-PI Tim Eisele, 2023-2026)
- University of Connecticut Humanities Institute visiting fellow (2018-2019)
- American Philosophical Society-British Academy Joint Fellow (2018)
- 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.
- "Oil Palms at the End of Empire," Robinson Business History Conference, Portland State University, 2022
- “Suited to Malaya? Origins of the Oil Palm Industry in Colonial Malaysia.” American Society for Environmental History conference, Riverside, CA, March 2018.
- “Nucleus Estates and Pioneer Mills: Models for Development in the Oil Palm Industry.” African Studies Association conference, Chicago, November 2017.
- Landfill Mining: this DOE-funded project examines the possibilities for extracting aluminum and other materials from landfill sites.
- Oil palm in the 20th century: this project builds on my recent book, Oil Palm: a Global History. It will explore USAID and other US government support for oil palm in Latin America and beyond, and compare successful models for oil palm development globally.
- Chaga: history, culture, and commercialization of a foraged fungus
- Forgotten Fibers: an exploration of natural fibers like abaca, kapok, henequen, and hemp that were vital in modern industry and warfare but swiftly abandoned after the advent of nylon, polyester, and other synthetic materials.
- Swamp, trees, and peat soils: exploring small- and large-scale exploitation of wetland tree spaces and peatlands.
- SS3501 Making History
- SS2504 World History to 1500
- SS2505 World History since 1500
- SS3951 Topics in World History
- SS5551 Global Industrial History
- UN1025 Global Issues