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The Commodity Frontier Initiative

Providing a long historical perspective on problems that are often assumed to be modern, the Commodity Frontiers Initiative recasts our thinking about issues of sustainability, resilience, and contestations, contributing to the politics of our own times.

Commodity Frontiers Journal

Commodity Frontiers is the Journal of the Commodity Frontiers Initiative (CFI). Edited by a group of scholars and researchers from various disciplines and organizations in the CFI Network, Commodity Frontiers explores the history and present of capitalism, contestation, and ecological transformation in the global countryside. 

Issue 1. Mineral Frontiers.

Issue 2. Stimulant Frontiers.

Issue 3. Livestock Frontiers.


Commodity Frontiers Research Agenda

The CFI is actively developing its research agenda for studying the history and present of capitalism in the countryside through the lenses of commodity frontiers and commodity regimes.

PUBLICATIONS: In 2021, commodity frontiers was the focus of the first “Arenas in Global History” section of the Journal of Global History. The Arena included the CFI leaders’ position paper entitled, “Commodity Frontiers and the Transformation of the Global Countryside: A Research Agenda.” Historians Maxine Berg, Ruth Mostern, and Ronald Findlay and Kevin O’Rourke provided commentary on the paper, with a response from the authors. Access the papers using the buttons below.

“The history of the making of the modern world is a history of the expansion of commodity frontiers, a historical process so spatially, socially and structurally all-encompassing that it still awaits its persuasive analysis.”

Beckert, bosma, schneider, and vanhaute (2021)

Read the open access papers here:


ROUNDTABLE: On 9 December 2021, sociologists Neil Brenner, Philip McMichael, and Nancy Peluso gave their views on the proposed research agenda in an online roundtable discussion. Hanne Cottyn moderated.

CFI Research Agenda Roundtable Discussion 9 December 2021


Commodity Frontiers Lexicon

The Commodity Frontiers Lexicon proposes and explores some of the crucial concepts at the core of research in the Commodity Frontiers Initiative. It is a space of conversation and confrontation to explore existing ideas and forge new critical ones.

Keyword Conversation 1. Commodity Frontier

Keyword Conversation 2. Capitalism

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