[OPE-L:2037] Re: Units of measure

From: Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Date: Wed Jan 05 2000 - 12:01:50 EST

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Re Julian's [OPE-L:2036]:

> (snip) reminds me to recommend Witold Kula's
> "Measures and Man" to list members.

Fuller citation:

* Witold Kula _Measures and Men_ (Princeton University Press, 1986,

> In the present context the most striking feature of Kula's book is
> his demonstration that the size of a whole series of basic units (of length,
> area, and volume) traditionally varied in time and place according to the
> productivity of (human) labour.
> Thus length and area units were based on how much ground one worker
> could plough in a day, and hence were bigger in districts where labour was
> more productive. Likewise, volume measures were based on the output from a
> unit of land, as defined above. Hence a bushel of wheat (in a given
> district) would be a different volume to that for oats.

Other striking features of Kula's book are his explanations of how *class
struggle* and the *state* played a vital role in the historical
establishment, reproduction and change of measures.

In solidarity, Jerry

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