Poison or Pleasure: The Archaeology of Tobacco and Sugar

Author(s): Georgia Fox

Year: 2018


The deep history behind what anthropologist Sidney Mintz refers to as the "stimulant or drug foods" reflects collective choices that transformed the socioeconomic fabric of early modern life. The archaeological record can reveal the physical manifestation of such choices through the myriad assemblages of artifacts that bear witness to the adoption of stimulant foods and also the tragic outcomes from the production of these commodities. In this paper, I will discuss my long-term archaeological research in the Caribbean on both tobacco and sugar in the context of foregrounding consumer desire, which provoked a series of events and changes that resulted in structural inequalities, new forms of materiality, and varying impacts on landscapes and people. The Caribbean region provides an excellent laboratory in which to study the impacts of the production and adoption of stimulant foods. As a gateway to the New World, the Caribbean was a frontier where novel ideas, commodities, and the adoption of new habits converged and were amplified through emerging identities and acts of resistance in a variety of colonial contexts.

Cite this Record

Poison or Pleasure: The Archaeology of Tobacco and Sugar. Georgia Fox. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 444469)

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Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -90.747; min lat: 3.25 ; max long: -48.999; max lat: 27.683 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20107