John Tully


On his book The Devil’s Milk: A Social History of Rubber

Cover Interview of April 18, 2011

Editor’s note

Originally, this interview ran on the Rorotoko cover page under the headline

“What rubber has done to humans, forests, plantations.”

We highlighted two quotes.

On the first page:

“Walter Benjamin once wrote that behind every great invention lies great barbarism. Vulcanized rubber is of course an invention, and its history bears out Benjamin’s observation.  Nor has the barbarism—social and ecological—stopped.”

On the second:

“Chinese medical studies show high incidences of cancers among the country’s rubber workers.  It’s not a far cry from when English rubber workers, drunk on the fumes of toxic chemicals, would jump up and down on the factory floor, flapping imaginary wings and trying to fly.”