Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire

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Palm Oil

The Grease of Empire

Max Haiven

Coming April 2022

It’s in our food, our cosmetics, our fuel & our bodies: Palm oil, found in half of supermarket products, has shaped our world.

By telling its story in Palm Oil: The Grease of Empire, Max Haiven shows how the gears of capitalism are literally & metaphorically lubricated by this ubiquitous elixir.

From its origins in West Africa to today’s Southeast Asian palm oil superpowers, Haiven’s sweeping, experimental narrative takes us on a global journey that includes looted treasures, the American system of mass incarceration, the history of modern art, & the industrialization of war.

Beyond simply calling for more boycotts or consumer activism, Haiven makes an impassioned argument for recognizing in palm oil humanity’s profound potential to shape our world beyond racial capitalism & neocolonial dispossession.

One part history, one part dream, one part theory, one part montage, this kaleidoscopic & urgent book asks us to recognize the past in the present and to seize the power to make a better world.

Table of Contents

  • Whose grease?
  • Whose punishment?
  • Whose fetish?
  • Whose weapon?
  • Whose fat?
  • Whose surplus?
  • Whose sacrifice?
  • Whose story?

Powerfully demonstrates how, by following the history of a key commodity, we can reconstruct the logic of imperial capitalism.

Silvia Federici

Author of Caliban and the Witch & Revolution at Point Zero

A whirlwind tour, guiding us through the workings of the global engines lubricated by the grease of empire

Raj Patel

Author of Stuffed and Starved & co-author of The History of Capitalism in Seven Cheap Things &

Jampacked with insights … compelling, persuasive, & far-reaching

Andrew Ross

Author of Stone Men, Creditocracy & Sunbelt Blues