Media releases

VU lecturer to launch new book that reveals our world's rubbery history

A book about the long, grim history of rubber and its crucial role in shaping the modern world will be launched in Melbourne next week by author and Victoria University lecturer Dr John Tully.

The Devil's Milk: A Social History of Rubber is the product of exhaustive research carried out in many countries and several continents over four years.

Dr Tully, a lecturer in politics and history at VU's Footscray Park campus, is an ecological and labour activist with experience that includes some rigging work for Goodyear Tyre & Rubber, where he first encountered rubber up close and personal.

"From the early stages of primitive accumulation to the heights of the industrial revolution and beyond, rubber is one of a handful of commodities that has played a crucial role in shaping the modern world, and yet labouring people around the globe have every reason to regard it as 'the devil's milk','' Dr Tully said.

"All the advancements made possible by rubber ­­­­– industrial machinery, telegraph technology, medical equipment, countless consumer goods – have occurred against a backdrop of seemingly endless exploitation, conquest, slavery, and war.''

VU Dean Laureate Professor Robert Pascoe said Dr Tully's sixth book was "destined to become a classic".

"Tully tells the story of humanity's long encounter with rubber in a kaleidoscopic narrative that regards little as outside its range without losing sight of the commodity in question,'' Professor Pascoe said.

"With the skill of a master historian and the elegance of a novelist, he presents what amounts to a history of the modern world told through the multiple lives of rubber.''

The book, published by New York: Monthly Review Press, will also be released in the US on Tuesday, 22 February at the Brecht Forum in New York and will be available in Australia.

When: 6pm for 6.30pm, Thursday 17 February 2011

Where: Readings Bookshop, Lygon St, Carlton

Launcher: Dr Jeff Sparrow, author and editor of Overland

Drinks and light refreshments provided.


For interview: Dr John Tully, Victoria University, on 9919 4172 or 0458 281 246

Media contact:

Daniel Clarke, Media Officer,

VU Marketing and Communications Department

Ph: 9919 9491 or 0407 771 072

See all media releases