Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History

Mintz, Sidney W.

Published by Viking Adult
ISBN 10: 0670687022 / ISBN 13: 9780670687022
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Synopsis: Sugar has been around for milennia, but only in the past two centuries has it become a significant foodstuff and major cash crop, and then only in the West. As a preservative, as a medicine, in decoration, as a spice or condiment, and as a sweetener, sugar has grown incredibly, even alarmingly, popular ? and its use is still increasing.

In this eye-opening study of how Europeans and Americans transformed sugar from a rare foreign luxury to a commonplace necessity of modem life, and how a slave crop, and the growing demand for it, transformed the history of capitalism and industry, Sidney Mintz asks us to consider the many ways in which sugar has become "meaningful" in modern Western life. For while we might argue that all humans have an innate craving for sweetness, there is something special about what happened to sugar in the West, and it can only be explained by relating it to issues of imperial and class ambitions, power politics, and economic issues.

Mintz discusses the history of the production and consumption of sugar, and shows how closely interwoven are its origins as a tropical slave crop grown in Europe's colonies with its use first as an extravagant luxury for the upper classes, then as a necessary part of the diet of the new industrial proletariat. His analysis of how sugar has penetrated social behavior opens up fascinating perspectives on the history of slavery, imperialism, and industrialization -- as well as on the anthropology of food and of Western societies.

Finally Professor Mintz considers the meaning of food and eating in our own society. Sugar has facilitated the modern transformation of work patterns, consumption habits, and diet, and this book asks us to understand what this means.

Its sobering but highly entertaining analysis of what sugar is doing to our social habits and our sense of ourselves makes brilliantly clear that one can never dissociate sweetness, and all that sweetness implies, from the harsher truths of power.

About the Author: Sidney W. Mintz was a professor at the Johns Hopkins University, where he taught anthropology. His academic specialization focused on the anthropology of food, with a particular focus on the consumption and commodification of sugar. His works include Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions into Eating, Culture, and the Past; The World of Soy; and Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. He died in 2015.

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Title: Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in ...
Publisher: Viking Adult
Binding: Hardcover
Book Condition: Very Good

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