Control on the ground and from afar: plantation written records across the Atlantic
Cocoa plantations in 1900s São Tomé, a small island in the Gulf of Guinea, were fairly sophisticated colonial enterprises. Sharing some attributes with modern corporate governance, such as the separation of ownership from management, several of these plantations were superintended in loco by professional administrators but governed remotely from the directors' desks in Lisbon. This paper examines plantations’ paperwork flows across the Atlantic. It shows how the exchange of information was central to systems of feedback and control that allowed for the functioning of these productive machines.
Marta Macedo is a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute of Social Sciences at the University of Lisbon. Her research focuses on São Tomé plantations, colonialism and empire, linking approaches from the history of science and technology, environmental history and labour studies.
Macedo, Marta/Irene Peano/Colette Le Petitcorps (2023) (eds.): Global Plantations in the Modern World: Sovereignties, Ecologies, Afterlives. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
Macedo, Marta (2021): “Coffee on the move: technology, labour and race in the making of a transatlantic plantation system.” In: Mobilities Vol. 16, 2, 262–272.
Macedo, Marta (2019): “Disrupted Ecologies: Conflicting Repertoires of Colonial Rule in Early Twentieth-Century São Tomé.” In: Nuno Domingos, Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo, Ricardo Roque (eds.), Resistance and Colonialism Insurgent Peoples in World History. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 229–250.