Virginia Postrel | The Fabric of Civilization | Talks at Google

Author Virginia Postrel discusses “The Fabric of Civilization”, which explores the global history of textiles and the role they’ve plates as the world’s most influential commodity.

The story of humanity is the story of textiles—as old as civilization itself. Since the first thread was spun, the need for textiles has driven technology, business, politics, and culture. In “The Fabric of Civilization”, Virginia synthesizes groundbreaking research from archeology, economics, and science to reveal a surprising history. From Minoans exporting wool colored with precious purple dye to Egypt, to Romans arrayed in costly Chinese silk, the cloth trade paved the crossroads of the ancient world. Textiles funded the Renaissance and the Mughal Empire; they gave us banks and bookkeeping, Michelangelo’s David and the Taj Mahal. The cloth business spread the alphabet and arithmetic, propelled chemical research, and taught people to think in binary code.

Virginia Postrel is a Los Angeles-based writer and a visiting fellow at the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy at Chapman University and a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion. Her previous books include The Power of Glamour, The Substance of Style, and The Future and Its Enemies. During her research for The Fabric of Civilization, she learned to weave and is now the program co-chair for the Southern California Handweavers’ Guild.

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Moderated by Derek Slater.