Footprints in the cotton fields: The Industrial Revolution as time-space appropriation and environmental load displacement
Summary, in English
This paper offers a method for quantifying the global exchange of (natural) space and (labor) time underlying the economic success of the British textile industry in the late 18th and early 19th century. Using historical statistics on inputs of land and labor embodied in cotton and wool production, respectively, estimates are made of the amount of British land and labor that were ‘saved’ by displacing fibre production to North America. By comparing inputs of land and labor in the textile exports of England with those in some commodities imported from its colonial periphery, and juxtaposing these data with exchange rates, estimates are also made of unequal exchange. Using such methods, it is possible to bring together the Marxist concern with unequal exchanges of labor time, on one hand, with the more recent concern with ecological footprints, on the other.