Whether it's sugar and the Atlantic system, cotton and the Industrial Revolution, or oil and globalization, commodities make the world go round. They are tools for studying global capitalism, allowing us to ask questions about the interlocking of politics and markets, about social organization, about the cultural contact and exchange, and about the nature of power and freedom. What is the relationship between production and consumption? How have commodity flows affected state sovereignty and empires? How have commodities led to the greater integration of markets and cultures?