Science AMA Series: I’m David Roth Singerman, here to talk about the
history of the science of sugar, AMA!
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.