Submarine Telegraphy and the Hunt for Gutta Percha

Challenge and Opportunity in a Global Trade


In Submarine Telegraphy and the Hunt for Gutta Percha, Helen Godfrey traces the connections between submarine telegraphy and the peoples of Singapore and Sarawak (Borneo) who supplied 'gutta percha', the latex insulating the world network of undersea telegraph cables. The book examines the complex inter-relationships linking metropolitan and local environments in a trade once described as a matter of interest to the whole civilized world. Using previously untapped corporate and official archives, trade data and a rich documentary record, the study explores the roles of cable producers, scientists, administrators, and local Chinese and indigenous traders. It reveals how a global trade may transcend technological, geographic and cross-cultural challenges, even hostilities. Motivations and outcomes are more complex than simple commercial gain.
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EUR €135.00USD $156.00

Biographical Note

Helen Godfrey, Ph.D. (2011), University of New England, is an independent researcher who has published related material as journal articles. Experiences living in Australasia, Africa, Britain and the Caribbean have widened her research perspectives.

Table of contents

List of Illustrations Abbreviations Currency Values, Weights and Measurements Glossary Introduction

Part 1: Submarine Telegraphy: The Forces of Science and Commerce

1 The Significance of Gutta Percha and the Rise of Submarine Telegraphy   Gutta Percha and its Significance   The Development and Significance of Submarine Telegraphy 2 Gutta Percha and the Challenge of Submarine Telegraphy   Gutta Percha and Submarine Telegraphy – The Early Years   Growth Years of Submarine Telegraphy and its Dependence upon Gutta Percha 3 The Rise and Challenges of the Gutta Percha Trade   The Lands of Plenty: Southeast Asia and Regional Trade   The European Hunt for Gutta Percha 4 Factory to Forest: Opportunity at the Periphery   Singapore and the Development of the Gutta Percha Trade   The Trade Comes to Sarawak via Singapore Part 2: Power, Profit and the Periphery 5 The Gutta Percha Trade of Sarawak   Sarawak, its People and the Brooke Administrations   Significance and Growth of the Gutta Percha Trade in Sarawak 6 Operation of the Gutta Percha Trade in Sarawak   The Trade Network   Overland Trade Paths   Trade Venues: Bazaars and Outports   Credit and Barter 7 Impact of the Gutta Percha Trade – Opportunity   Interaction with the External Market   The Changing Nature of Sarawak Imports   Prestige Goods or Pusaka 8 Impact of the Gutta Percha Trade – Change and Challenge   Monetization   Changing Social Relations and the Gutta Percha ‘Wars’ 9 Conclusions Appendix 1 Gutta Percha Appendix 2 Statistical Material References Index


Academic libraries; scholars in economic, colonial, or Southeast Asian history, globalization, telegraphy, business history, commodity trade, human/economic geography, subsistence/prestige trade, cross-cultural trade, environmental history, NTFP, economic botany, economic anthropology.