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Past Event

Saturday University: Jute and Peasant Life

Feb 16 2019

Seattle Art Museum

Plestcheeff Auditorium

10 AM – 11:30 AM

Jute and Peasant Life in the Bengal Delta
Tariq Omar Ali, University of Illinois

Before the advent of synthetic fibers, jute was the second-most widely consumed fiber in the world, after cotton. While the jute sack circulated globally for shipping goods, the plant was cultivated almost exclusively by peasant smallholders in a small corner of the world: the Bengal delta. Ali’s talk examines how jute fibers entangled the delta's peasantry in the rhythms and vicissitudes of global capital.

Unlike global plant economies for cotton, tea, sugar, tobacco and others, jute-growing was not organized into plantations. Ali describes global impact on these peasants on their work and leisure, their enjoyment of poetry and practice of religion, and over time, how global market cycles took them to prosperity and then poverty.

About the Presenter

Tariq Omar Ali is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Illinois. He holds a PhD from Harvard University, and has research interests in Modern South Asia, Agrarian Histories, and Histories of Capitalism. His 2018 book on jute and peasant life is A Local History of Global Capital.

Please note: South Hall doors open at 9:30 am.


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206.442.8480 [email protected]

Full series tickets: $73; SAM members $39
SAVE: winter and spring series: $120; SAM members $62
Individual lecture tickets available at the door: $11, SAM members $6; free at the door for students with ID
Please arrive to your seat 10 minutes before the program starts, or your seat may be released.

Photo: Munem Wasif

The Seattle Art Museum acknowledges that we are located on the ancestral land of the Coast Salish people.