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Lecture 15

ANTH 2 Lecture 15: Lecture #15

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Commodities The Commodity Study can help us understand relationships between: ● Environment ● Production, exchange, consumption ● Social groups ● Identities ● Meanings ● Sugar ○ Sidney Mintz (1985) Sweetness and Power ○ Sugar and capitalism Sugar ● Sugar has been cultivated since prehistoric times ● Saccharum officinarum - Papua New Guinea ● Saccharum spontaneum - India ● Until colonization of the Americas, it was used sparingly in Europe as a spice or medicine ● Triangular Trade ● “...sucrose, this ‘favored child of capitalism’... epitomized the transition from one kind of society to another.” - Mintz 1985: 214 ● From luxury spice to staple food (1650>) ○ New working classes ○ Industrial time ○ Sugar and tea = proletarian hunger killers ○ By 1900 sugar made up 20% of calories in English diet ● Meanings and Behaviors ○ Sugar and class distinction ○ Sweetener for tea, chocolate, coffee ● Sugar production in the Caribbean colonies and industrial production in England were inextricably linked - they fueled each other and the emergence of a global market ● This shaped the daily lives - the material conditions and habits of people living in both the Americans and in Europe ● Commodities can shape much about life - the way we eat, the way we celebrate, even the shape of our bodies Soy ● Soybeans were domesticated in China around 1000 BC and grown in small plots to make into foods like tofu, soy sauces and soybean pastes, and bean curd ● Today, soy is grown in large industrial monocultures with
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