Abstract: Commodity Chains: What Can We Learn from a Business History of the Rubber Chain, 1870-1910?
The literature on the rubber boom applies a dependendist view of rubber production in the Brazilian Amazon. Even though a sizable surplus was generated in the rubber chain, it was mostly appropriated by foreigners. This view is in tune with the Global Commodity Chain approach, which argues that manufacturing/core economies absorb the bulk of surplus generated in the commodity chain. This paper challenges both frameworks and asks for a more careful analysis of the business history of commodity chains: it is a first step in this direction through a business history of the relationship between two nodes of the rubber chain.