Over the last two years I have been researching the work of the radical anti-apartheid and anti-racist organization, Boycot Outspan Actie (Boycott Outspan Action). Founded in 1972 in Leiden, Holland, the BOA were led by the charismatic South African exile, Esau du Plessis. After first contacting du Plessis in 2010, I have interviewed many key BOA activists and associates in Sweden and Holland; during this time I have been fortunate enough to have access to a range of compelling sources stored in private archives and correspondence. Much of this research will be published in my thesis in 2013. Here, as a little taster, I would like to provide you with a visual introduction to the organization that reworked the blood-sugar topos into a powerful anti-apartheid weapon.
The Great Boycott that Didn’t Happen: Drinking Cocoa and the Absence of a São Tomé Blood-Cocoa Topos12 Oct
This post suggests how a widepread public consumer boycott was avoided by the British chocolate firms, Cadbury, Rowntree and Fox in the wake of the publication of Nevinson’s A Modern Slavery. I point to the ways in which the São Tomé cocoa scandal was contained, and how a visceral and implicating consumer-producer topos was avoided.
Without the antislavery suggestion of white on black anthropophagia that characterized the sugar abstention campaigns, a blood-cocoa topos was inconceivable. I believe that the absence of a topos to fictionalise and disgust, to romanticize and make poetic, drew the sting out of moralizing arguments, and disabled a widespread politics of pity for the São Tomé cocoa producer.
Introducing the big consumer boycott that didn’t happen: Quaker chocolate and the São Tomé cocoa scandal 1902-95 Oct
Key activist contact points: Birmingham, London
Keywords: Quakerism , paternalism, sobriety, humanitarianism, antislavery
Topoi relationship: consumer boycott avoidance demanded anti-visceral filters implemented to prevent the widespread mobilization of cocoa abjection
Trepanning/trepanned seems to have an interesting lineage. There are two meanings of trepanning, the first, also known as trephination, or making a burr hole, is a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull. This horrifying and ancient form of neurosurgery was often carried out in order to let evil spirits escape from the sufferer, or to treat a compression or swelling in the brain.
Emma Robertson. Chocolate, Women and Empire, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2009 ISBN: 9780719077777 (cloth).
I’m currently drafting a review for Antipode on Emma Robertson’s book, but as I think its a really good book, I’d like to give you a brief taster of its themes here.
In this, the fifth and final blog entry on anti-saccharite cultures, I consider the importance of the presence of former slaves and slave narratives to the anti-saccharite movement.
Adam Hochschild records that by the 1780s there were upwards of five thousand black men, women and children in London. The British, attempting to undermine American colonist ‘property’, offered emancipation to any slave who abandoned their American owner. Many of these former American slaves arrived in Britain attached to military units soon to be discharged from service. Others bought their freedom after a period of service as domestic slaves for wealthy families, or managed to escape from bondage. Although the majority of black people who living in London were unaccounted for by the general public, there were a number of exceptions. Below, I introduce two Atlantic creoles whose experiences, achievements and reputations became integral to the anti-saccharite movement: