A world of copper: Globalizing the Industrial Revolution, 1830-70

Chris Evans, Olivia Saunders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


For most of human history the smelting of metallic ores has been performed immediately adjacent to the ore body. In the 1830s the copper industry that was centred on Swansea in the UK departed abruptly from that ancient pattern: Swansea smelters shipped in ores from very distant locations, including sites in Australasia, Latin America, and southern Africa. Swansea became the hub of a globally integrated heavy industry, one that deployed capital on a very large scale, implanted British industrial technologies in some very diverse settings, and mobilized a transnational workforce that included British-born 'labour aristocrats', Chinese indentured servants, and African slaves. This paper explores the World of Copper between its inception c.1830 and its demise in the aftermath of the American Civil War. It asks what the experience of this precociously globalized industry can contribute to some current concerns in global history.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-26
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Global History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2015


  • Australia
  • Britain
  • copper
  • Industrial Revolution
  • Latin America
  • nineteenth century


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