James Barrett is Reader in Medieaval Archaeology at Cambridge University. At Nature and Culture in Medieval Towns 6-7 March 2019 he will give a keynote speech titled Ecological Globalisation and the Medieval Town: Of Fish, Fur and Ivory.
Ecological Globalisation and the Medieval Town: Of Fish, Fur and Ivory
Ecological globalisation entails the (often inexorable) spatial displacement of our interface with nature. It creates interdependencies between rural (often indigenous) experts and cosmopolitan centres of consumption.
Although on-going, it is an ancient phenomenon that has ebbed and flowed in response to social, economic and demographic factors that unfolded among both town-dwelling consumers and rural producers.
Power was sometimes asymmetrical between these poles, but agency was always distributed.
This lecture explores the process and reality of ecological globalisation from the perspective of urban consumers and distant producers between the Viking Age and the end of the Middle Ages.
Its material focus is the trade of stockfish (dried cod), fur and walrus ivory. Norway’s medieval towns became central to these trades, within a network that extended across northern Europe and far beyond.