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 Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History


by Sidney W. Mintz

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.
Reviewer: Julie, from Madison, WI


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