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Ecology and Power in the Age of EmpireEurope and the Transformation of the Tropical World$
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Corey Ross

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780199590414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199590414.001.0001

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Cultivating the Colonies

Cultivating the Colonies

Agriculture, Development, and Environment

(p.307) 9 Cultivating the Colonies
Ecology and Power in the Age of Empire

Corey Ross

Oxford University Press

One of the central aims of colonial rule was the ‘development’ of Europe’s overseas territories. The key focal point was agriculture, which was the fundamental basis of most tropical economies. Yet how best to ‘improve’ tropical agriculture was a matter of debate. Whereas the initial emphasis was on export crops, colonial agriculture departments gradually began to study indigenous farming systems as well. Over time, field researchers acquired an appreciation of indigenous farming skill, and sought to build on rather than replace existing systems. This chapter explores the various aims, methods, and effects of colonial agricultural development and how they evolved over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It first focuses on the expansion of croplands and the intensification of farming techniques in tropical Asia, before turning to sub-Saharan Africa and the increasingly determined efforts to conserve agricultural resources from the threat of overexploitation.

Keywords:   agriculture, agronomy, development, improvement, shifting cultivation, irrigation, agricultural settlement, ecology, soil conservation

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