loading page

Science AMA Series: I’m David Roth Singerman, here to talk about the history of the science of sugar, AMA!
  • David_Roth_Singerman ,
  • r/Science AMAs

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
r/Science AMAs
Author Profile


I’m a historian of science, technology, the environment, and American capitalism. I have a PhD from MIT’s program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society, where my research was supported by the National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council. My dissertation, “Inventing Purity in the Atlantic Sugar World, 1860-1930,” was awarded prizes in 2015 for the best dissertation in business history in both the U.S. and Britain, and his work has been published in the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, the Journal of British Studies, and Enterprise & Society, while another article is forthcoming in Radical History Review. I’m currently a visiting scholar at UVA and working on my first book Purity and Power in the American Sugar Empire, 1860-1940, which narrates a new history of U.S. imperialism by tracing material struggles over knowledge about sugar’s substance and value. Drawing on research in U.S., Cuban, and Hawaiian archives, Purity and Power shows how the U.S’s attempts to govern nature and human labor in its Pacific and Caribbean colonies were inseparable from contests over corruption, free trade, and corporate power at home. I’m also preparing an article about food, labor, and scientific knowledge in the 1880s and 1890s, examining scandals over the smuggling of frozen Canadian herring into Gloucester, Massachusetts. Before this, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Rutgers Center for Historical Analysis and a research associate at Harvard Business School. Ask me anything about the history of science or technology! EDIT—thank you! This has been great fun. I hope my answers have been helpful and sorry I couldn’t get to all of your questions.