Spectacles of Sweetness: Race, Taste, and the Material Culture of Eating Sugar

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Venue:FIU Modesto A. Maidique Campus, SIPA 502

AADS Faculty Works-in-Progress Seminar

“Spectacles of Sweetness: Race, Taste, and the Material Culture of Eating Sugar"

Dr. April Merleaux, Assistant Professor of History, AADS Affiliate Faculty

I think that I'd like to share an excerpt from a manuscript chapter, which I'm in the process of reorganizing into a slightly different configuration. It's tentatively titled, “Spectacles of Sweetness: Race, Taste, and the Material Culture of Eating Sugar." Briefly summarized, the chapter describes U.S. consumer cultures in the early twentieth century in relation to empire, labor migration, and race. I argue that the racial logic of empire was encoded through the practices of eating sugar. I do so by analyzing the material culture and sensory stereotypes surrounding sugar consumption—sugar bowls, tongs, and etiquette manuals—alongside widely circulated images of African American and Afro-Caribbean children eating sugar cane.

The format of the AADS Works-in-Progress Seminars

AADS core or affiliate faculty and graduate students in the process of writing a dissertation present a book chapter or an article about which they wish to receive feedback. Around two weeks prior to the actual seminar exchange, the chapter or article draft is circulated on the AADS faculty and graduate students e-lists so that everyone interested may come and provide feedback after the brief presentation made by the author (around 10 minutes) to contextualize the piece, express his or her doubts about a particular section of the work in focus, etc. The spirit of the seminar is that the space it provides is "safe" for the authors and favorable for respectful collegial exchanges, during which the audience generously expresses constructive comments about any aspect of the text, the journal where it could be submitted, etc. The idea here is to exploit—for the benefit of everyone—the multidisciplinarity or interdisciplinarity of the Program, as we understand that the most insightful feedback might sometime come from colleagues engaged in different disciplines than one's own.