History of Cotton

with Teju Adisa-Farrar, Sha'Mira Covington

Filed under:

Material Literacy

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In the growing sustainability movement, organic cotton has been used as a tool of greenwashing by many brands while leaving many questions about its history, farming and processing unanswered. This course looks at the origins of cotton and how they relate to colonialism, cultural erasure and the ongoing struggle of Black Brown and Indigenous Peoples around the world.


Books/Literary Texts/Articles

  • Empire of Cotton: A Global History by Sven Beckert

  • The Half Has Never Been Told : Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist

  • Black Bodies, White Gold: Art, Cotton, and Commerce in the Atlantic World by Anna Arabindan-Kesson

  • African Textiles by John Mack and John Picton

  • Fibershed Blog - Cotton Content

Who/What to Follow

Photo of

Teju Adisa-Farrar

Teju is a Jamaican-American writer, poet and geographer. Her focus is on contemporary and historical Black geographies as they relate to the environment, urban ecologies and culture. Having lived in 7 different countries, Teju uses a transnational lens that is informed by history, art and activism. Her work supports developing alternatives, creating infrastructure for regenerative projects, and participating in co-creation. She advocates for and speaks about environmental and climate justice focusing on urban areas, communities of color, and postcolonial populations.

Sha'Mira Covington

Sha’Mira Covington is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising and Interiors and the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia. Her research explores fashion as an embodied cultural, historical, social, and political phenomenon involved in and affected by histories of colonial domination, anti-colonial resistance, and processes of decolonization and globalization. Her personal, artistic, and spiritual work is informed and guided by her ancestors, communities in which she lives, nature, Spirit, and love.

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