This book explores the fascinating history and present-day practices associated with cotton. This is a story of commercial and cultural enterprise, of the ties and tensions between East and West, of technological and industrial revolution, social modernization, colonialism and slavery. Cotton's history mirrors profound global transformations. And cotton remains one of the most significant mass commodities today.
Cotton's track record on labor conditions in factories and plantations has tarnished its history and reputation, even as cotton clothes became the hallmark of modern industrialized society. Cotton expressed popular fashions and popular politics in dynamic ways. Yet cottons also take other cultural forms and are part of vibrant craft traditions in many parts of the world. This book explores the history, impact and ongoing life of this hugely influential textile.