Happy 2013 folks. May the year bring lots of warmth and happiness to you all.
Apologies for my recent inactivity on this site. This PhD thing has been calling out for maximum attention. But to tie things over until I can get out of my slippers and dressing gown, here are some extracts from a book review that I’ve recently published in Social & Cultural Geography. The subject is embodied food politics and the author is Michael Carolan, an environmental sociologist – currently Professor at Colorado State University.
In this second post on anti-saccharite cultures I situate the sugar boycott at the juncture between economic necessity and individual and collective forms of religious sacrifice and purging.
Moral capital and hegemonic cycles of capital
Questions surrounding the sense of personal responsibility and morality felt by the anti-saccharites have been raised by several historians. Christopher Brown argues that a variety of political actors felt that they could accrue moral capital from framing “anti-slavery initiatives as an emblem of national character” (2006:27), as a way of sustaining the reputation of an empire perceived to be declining. Drawing from Arrighi and Braudel’s work on the longue durée and hegemonic cycles of capital accumulation, and with a historian’s keen eye for hindsight, Brown suggests that creating moral capital by vindicating British liberty was a seductive way of extending the British hegemony of capitalist relations before the transition to the American cycle of dominance.
Arrighi’s cycles of capitalist accumulation based on the temporal development of Money-Capital-Money phases (1994). Diagram B outlines M-M phases that mark the transition from one global hegemon to another. Brown argues that the abolition of the slave trade was one of the means to ‘civilize’ power and lengthen the British dominated long nineteenth century.
OPPRESSION! thou, whose hard and cruel chain,
Entails on all thy victims woe and pain;
Who gives with tyrant force and scorpion whip,
The cup of mis’ry to a Negro’s lip;
Marks with stern frown thy wide, unhallow’d reign,
And broods with gloomy wing o’er Afric’s injur’d plain!
First stanza of A Poem On The African Slave Trade, 1791, by Dublin based Quaker, Mary Birkett. The poem is addressed specifically to female consumers of sugar.
In this first post on anti-saccharite cultures I want to briefly point toward some of the wider political issues at stake during the time of the sugar boycott.