African Rice (Oryza glaberrima) in Historical Context

Dr. Judith Carney
University of California, Los Angeles (Host: R. Wing)
Tuesday, October 18, 2011 - 4:00pm
Marley 230

As sequencing the Oryza glaberrima genome nears completion, the role of African rice in the botanical history of the Americas is little known. This talk places glaberrima rice in historical perspective by tracing its arrival from West Africa to New World plantation societies. The discussion draws attention to the role of African rice as provision on slave ships and its appearance in the plantation food fields of enslaved African rice farmers. In South Carolina, a rice plantation economy developed within decades of the colony’s settlement in 1670. The African antecedents can be seen in the ways that plantation rice was cultivated, harvested, threshed, milled, and cooked. African rice also appears in several nineteenth- and twentieth-century botanical collections from tropical America.    

  • Judith Carney, Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (Harvard University Press, 2001).
  • Van Andel, Tinde, “African Rice (Oryza glaberrima Steud.): Lost Crop of the Enslaved Africans Discovered in Suriname,” Economic Botany 64 (1), 2010: 1-10.