Saturday, June 25, 2011

The international role of the Tuskegee Institute

Yesterday I came across a bunch of articles on the development of cotton cultivation in German Togoland. A lot of them dealt with the role of African-Americans from the Tuskegee Institute. They established a model farm and school to train Togoland farmers on the best ways of cultivating cotton.  Evidently the Germans started to push for an increase in cotton farming in Togoland at the turn of the century in order to reduce the dependence of their textile industry upon American cotton. This has some interesting parallels to the development of cotton cultivation in Central Asia. Including the fact that there was also an experimental farm run by African-Americans from the Tuskegee Institute in the Uzbek SSR during the 1930s. Langston Hughes wrote about visiting it in his autobiography, I Wonder as I Wander. Apparently in the early 20th Century Tuskegee had the world's foremost experts on the cultivation of cotton and they were sought out by regimes as diverse as the German colonial administration of Togoland and the USSR under Stalin.

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