United by grass, separated by coal: Uruguay and New Zealand during the First Globalization Articles uri icon

publication date

  • July 2020

start page

  • 269

end page

  • 289


  • 2


  • 15

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1740-0228

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1740-0236


  • While the role of coal has been the subject of long-running debate in the historiography of the Industrial Revolution, its part in the economic development of the global periphery has been comparatively neglected. The technological context of the ‘First Globalization" (c.1870–1914) made pastoral production in the periphery increasingly dependent on modern energy, as new methods of production and transportation bridged the distance between grasslands in the south of the world and kitchens in the north. By comparing choices of meat preservation techniques in Uruguay and New Zealand – two small settler economies that prospered on the back of pastoral exports – this article highlights the usefulness of an energy perspective on agriculture-based transitions to modern economic growth. Different conditions of access to coal shaped how New Zealanders and Uruguayans exploited their livestock herds when terms of trade favoured them the most, with important consequences for the persisting income gap between them


  • Economics
  • History
  • Sociology


  • comparative history; energy; first globalization; livestock; settler economy