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Representations and Politics of Food in Latin America

Stephanie Rohner

This seminar will explore food as an analytical category through which to approach the history of Latin America. We will focus on two staples that shaped the history of the region and its place in the global imaginary: sugar and bananas. Focusing on the commodification and the politics of consumption of these staples will allow us to understand the social, political, and environmental impact they had on the region, and interrogate the intersections of food, colonialism, race, and inequality. Additionally, we will consider the place of sugar and bananas in the popular imagination and the cultural production in Latin America.    

Required reading




Further reading

  • Clegg, Peter. The Caribbean Banana Trade: From Colonalism to Globalization. Baskingstoke; New York, N.Y.: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002.
  • Curtin, Philip D. The Rise and Fall of the Plantation Complex: Essays in Atlantic History. 2nd ed. Cambridge, UK; New York: Cambridge UP, 1998.
  • Dosal, Paul J. Doing Business with the Dictators : A Political History of United Fruit in Guatemala, 1899-1944. Wilmington, Del.: SR, 1993.
  • Grossman, Lawrence S. The Political Ecology of Bananas : Contract Farming, Peasants, and Agrarian Change in the Eastern Caribbean. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina, 1998.
  • Mintz, Sidney W. Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. New York: Penguin, 1986.
  • Putnam, Lara. The Company They Kept: Migrants and the Politics of Gender in Caribbean Costa Rica, 1870-1960. Chapel Hill; London: U of North Carolina, 2002.
  • Topik, Steven; Carlos Marichal and Zephyr Frank. From Silver to Cocaine Latin American Commodity Chains and the Building of the World Economy, 1500-2000. Durham, N.C.: Duke UP, 2006.
  • Schlesinger, Stephen, and Kinzer, Stephen. Bitter Fruit: The Untold Story of the American Coup in Guatemala. New York: Anchor, 1990.
  • Schwartz, Stuart B. (Ed). Tropical Babylons: Sugar and the Making of the Atlantic World, 1450-1680. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2004. 
  • Striffler, Steve. In the Shadows of State and Capital: The United Fruit Company, Popular Struggle, and Agrarian Re-structuring in Ecuador, 1900-1995. Durham: Duke University Press, 2002.
  • Striffler, Steve, and Mark Moberg. Banana Wars Power, Production, and History in the Americas. Durham: Duke UP, 2003.