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Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History [Anglais] [Broché]

Sidney W. Mintz

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"Shows how the intelligent analysis of the history of a single commodity can be used to pry open the history of an entire world of social relationships and human behavior."—The New York Review of Books.

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Our awareness that food and eating are foci of habit, taste, and deep feeling must be as old as those occasions in the history of our species when human beings first saw other humans eating unfamiliar foods. Lire la première page
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Couverture | Copyright | Table des matières | Extrait | Index | Quatrième de couverture
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Amazon.com: 3.9 étoiles sur 5  39 commentaires
36 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Good Mix of History and Anthropology 11 décembre 2000
Par Ian K O'Malley - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Sidney Mintz provides and an excellent background on the impact that sugar has made on humankind in the past 400 years. The theme of the of the books centers on sugar within the British economy and culture but provides a different insight on European colonialism and the impact of specialty items in mercantilism economies. Although the book reads as a straight history text, Mintz, as a trained anthropologist, provides a provocative case study into the intricate relationship among products, consumers and producers. The book is well documented/foot-noted. Any student of economics, anthropology or the history of Colonial/Industrial Britain should grace their bookshelf with this text.
59 internautes sur 68 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 How has sugar moved you 17 novembre 2002
Par S. Swallow - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Mintz carefully places implications that sugar has caused human nature and culture to change and the end of his work, after a brief overview of all that we have been doing with sugar or rather sugar has been doing with us for the past 1000 years. MintzÕs work is divided into 5 sections: Food, Sociality and Sugar; Production; Consumption; Power; and finally Eating and Being. Mintz really hopes to build a base of facts to reveal to us how we as a people have identified with and sought to consume sugar over the past 1000 years and how that has affected us.
Sugar is always a labor intensive project, from the mill, to the distillery, to the storehouse and all the laborers it takes to run these places. Mintz discusses how this need for labor caused the British to look to Africa and other places to find cheap or free labor. With sugar came slavery, and those slaves who did the plantation work generally worked in the Caribbean while the product they created was delivered to British aristocracy.
In the mid-1700Õs sugar is made cheaper and more accessible to the lower classes and at this point shifts in its purpose to sweeten food. And as outlined by the upper statistics, sugar only continues to grow in demand. It is interesting that because sugar started as something precious and hard to come by, when it later became more cheap and accessible to the working class it still seemed to uphold that Òrareness.Ó The working class felt like they were increasing in freedom and status as they started to consume sugar. Sugar and like products Òrepresented the growing freedom of ordinary folks,Ó yet did Sugar really mean freedom?
In analysis of MintzÕs thesis I am most convinced that sugar is a powerful force that has moved us historically and today. Sugar production has not only caused the physical relocation, its consumption has caused us to form class and psychological identity around it; today we still live with the power of sweetness in our everyday life, most of the time not giving it a second thought.
Sugar took slaves from Africa to the new world in America. It created identity in the aristocracy and later a manufactured sense of freedom among the working class. Today it continues to grow in its use across the world and has become an everyday commodity. The more fast paced life becomes in the 21st century, the more consumers are drawn to pre-prepared processed foods consistently with high contents of sugar. Sucrose production separated African families in the 1700s, brought class distinction to EuropeÕs families during its shift to capitalism, and now it severs families from eating together at the dinner table with its processed and fast foods. With these implications either we allow sugar to keep moving us, or we move it off the table, out of the cupboard and dump it into Boston Harbor.
15 internautes sur 15 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Good case study on commodites and development 10 novembre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I found this book very interesting as I read it for a development anthropology class. Mintz gives a detailed and informative history of the development of sugar as a commodity from the colonial age to the present. Coming from an anthropological point of view, he examines the cultural impact of sugar production on the Carribean nations that produce it. He also displays how British organization of the industry in their colonies created an increasing demand for sugar.
29 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 How meaning morphs depending on class 24 décembre 2001
Par Julie - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Mintz's book is a bit hard to understand because he approaches the history of sugar from an intensely anthropological perspective. Basically, he studies the meaning associated with sugar (especially in England) during its centuries-long journey across time and economic class. Sugar began as an upper-class commodity. To have sugar displayed one's wealth and status. It was even endowed with magical and medicinal properties. Through colonialism, however, sugar was supplied to England cheaply and it became an daily part of the lower class English diet. It lost its high-status connotations and became a common day product. Mintz also studies the meanings sugar had in literature and speech, and even its effects today. This book is a worthwhile endeavor, and for anthropology, actually almost a fun read.
28 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Political Economy Canon; A Classic That Remade Anthropology and Cultural Studies 14 mars 2006
Par Adam Bahner - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Sidney W. Mintz's Sweetness and Power situates economic analysis in consumption rather than production. The author believes that a producer's labor and exploitation is not enough to understand the exploitation of production. One must unpack the mythos of demand. Central to this is the idea that rational choice leads liberal individuals to consume products because it is in their best interest. Mintz correctly implies that in the historiography of western consumers and colonial producers, this liberal individual is almost always white, male, and couched in the trappings of "civilization." He criticizes prevailing practices in social anthropology that approach colonized peoples as pristine and discrete, a tendency that also has troubling sway over what he terms "anthropology of modern life." He sees the anthropology rooted in his study of a basic commodity-sugar-as a positive contestation of the bounded primitive as a mode of inquiry and one that connects rather than marginalizes its subjects.

Mintz's engagement with cultural anthropology is based on a sophisticated premise: the way in which canonical anthropology marginalizes the primitive in opposition to civil society is related to the way in which liberal economics marginalizes the producer in opposition to the liberal individual consumer. The term "in opposition to" is appropriate because in this marginalization, both ends are mutually decentered. Both the primitive and the civil as well as production and consumption are on the margins because there is a labor, an exploitation, and an invocation to behavior that defies logic on each end. This, Mintz implies, necessitates a rejection of the prevailing colonial narrative of one-way dominion. For him, the mass-consumption of sugar is an anthropological anomaly. This is the puzzle that leads him to root his study in England from roughly 1650 thru 1900, during which time sugar went from being a lavish luxury to a staple of working class diets. As he notes, there is ample anthropological precedent to model culture and society as resistant to change and resistant to the imposition of new practice and tradition, even amidst a changing milieu that raises contradictions. Thus, contrary to liberal economic theory, demand is not a matter of nature in which rational persons severed from cultural meaning rush toward rational hedonistic consumption with open arms. Indeed, anthropology suggests that nature resists this imposition of change. Because of this, demand must be a structural phenomenon. It must at some juncture interrupt and structure culture in a way that is alien to its natural progression. The author concludes that production must create cultural meaning.

Understanding demand as structure and not nature allows there to be a liminal space between production and consumption. For Mintz, sugar inscribes a genealogy of contact upon this space. He sees the global connectedness of commodity as a new shape in which to group peoples in the study of kinship, religion and other cultural phenomena. In revealing how sugar came to England as science, theology, morality and a bedfellow (or perhaps even a progenitor) of the Enlightenment and other significant social shifts, the author hopes to springboard similar scholarship in cultural studies. The text concludes that the massive success of sugar in imposing a sort of consumptive hegemony in places like England and the United States, while not as significantly restructuring cultural practices in places like France and China, presents fertile ground for future research. If it has a shortfalling, it is the absence of a more explicit centering of power-this is to say that in focusing on the mutual marginalization of production and consumption there is a lack of coherence when it comes to narrating a driving force behind it all. Nonetheless the author makes significant contributions to cultural studies and interdisciplinary scholarship as well as hinting at the potential for deploying commodity as a postnational and contra-national discourse.
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