Presentation on theme: "“Molasses to rum to slaves, Oh, what a beautiful waltz. You dance with us, We dance with you. Molasses and rum and slaves.” (Lyrics from a 1969 Broadway."— Presentation transcript:
“Molasses to rum to slaves, Oh, what a beautiful waltz. You dance with us, We dance with you. Molasses and rum and slaves.” (Lyrics from a 1969 Broadway musical, 1776.)
I highly recommend this fascinating book which traces the evolution of the sugar cane industry in the Caribbean and the how the availability of cane sugar transformed western diets.
Sugar cane production occurs throughout the humid Tropic and Sub-Tropics. The economies of many countries in the Caribbean depend on sugar exports. However, with the large production of large countries like China, India and Brazil, Caribbean growers face a lot of competition and low prices.
Galloway, J.H. 1996. "Botany in Service of Empire: The Barbados Cane-Breeding Program and the Revival of the Caribbean Sugar Industry, 1880s-1930s", Annals of the Association of American Geographers, vol. 86, no. 4, 1996, pp. 682-706. This map is based on data from 1900, but the pattern shown persists. The sugar cane economy continues to predominate in the region.
Sugar mill in my home state, Louisiana, where growers who receive government subsidies produce sugar that competes with sugar produced by un-subsidized Caribbean growers on global markets.
Sugar cane is a tall grass. After being cut, it’s brought to the mill for a lot more cutting and grinding and washing, and then crystallization.
Bagasse, ground-up cane fiber, is a byproduct of the grinding. Included among its uses are livestock feed, and to make particle board.
My Guyanese-American friend, who is of East Indian ancestry, showed me around this sugar mill. His family immigrated to the US from the Caribbean to work in Louisiana’s sugar industry.
This man is a sugar chemist of Haitian ancestry. He emigrated from a Caribbean sugar producing country to work in Louisiana’s sugar industry.
Source: H. Hobhouse. 1986. Seeds of Change: Five Plants that Transformed Mankind. Harper & Row, New York. Learn the three passages and products that linked this Triangular Trade.
More than 1/2 of African slaves were brought to the Americas to produce sugar cane.
This forced migration of African slaves made the Caribbean a largely African-American region, which persists. However, notice how the French and British islands had much larger African-American populations in comparison to their white populations, than in Hispanic Latin America. This is because the sugar plantation model was centered in French and British colonies. Spanish colonies, in general, did not emphasize export agriculture.
Map from Charles Mann’s book, 1493, published by Alfred A. Knopf in 2011.
Introduction of the sugar cane plantation model resulted in the emergence of one of Middle America’s primary regions: The Rimland, which includes the Caribbean and the Atlantic coast of Central America.