J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Friday, August 02, 2013

New Directions in the Study of Sugar, 24-27 October

On 24-27 October, the John Carter Brown Library in Providence will host a conference titled “Beyond Sweetness: New Histories of Sugar in the Early Atlantic World.”

The conference announcement email said:
The centrality of sugar to the development of the early Atlantic world is now well known. Sugar was the ‘green gold’ that planters across the Americas staked their fortunes on, and it was the commodity that became linked in bittersweet fashion to the rise of the Atlantic slave trade. Producing unprecedented quantities of sugar through their enforced labor, Africans on plantations helped transform life not only in the colonies but also in Europe, where consumers incorporated the luxury into their everyday rituals and routines. 
And another announcement added:
“Beyond Sweetness: New Histories of Sugar in the Early Atlantic World” will evaluate the current state of scholarship on sugar, as well as move beyond it by considering alternative consumer cultures and economies. Given its importance, sugar as a topic still pervades scholarship on the Americas and has been treated in many recent works about the Caribbean, Brazil, and other regions. This conference thus will serve as an occasion for the assessment of new directions in the study of sugar.
Alongside the conference, the library will host an exhibition titled “Sugar and the Visual Imagination in the Atlantic World, c. 1650-1840.”

Here’s the full program. Online registration for this event costs $54, or $38 for students. I’m not sure what sort of snacks the conference will provide, but I’d be very disappointed if they aren’t sugary.


Bill Harshaw said...

I was surprised in some recent reading by the interest in trying to find a substitute for cane sugar. Jefferson and Madison in their "botanizing trip" were looking at maple sugar, Henry Ellsworth in the early 1840's was looking at sugar from corn stalks.

J. L. Bell said...

There's also an interesting discussion of that movement in Alan Taylor's book William Cooper's Town.