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Foodways of the Caribbean: Introduction

 

drawingofsugarcane engravingofsugarcaneplantation manuscriptofatrueandexacthistoryofbarbadoes boilinghouse thomastryonmanuscript antislaverytract proslaverycaricature

This exhibit has been curated to tell multiple stories of how food production and consumption is represented across the colonial West Indies. The choices made as to what is edible, what to eat, what to serve, who cooks and prepares meals, and with whom to share them has enabled cultural transactions between different groups of people, establishing systems of kinships and community while also drawing borders between groups of people. By collecting writings about food and food cultures, we might begin to see how the politics and culture of production and consumption structure and enable power relations. Food choices have a broader social and culture effect beyond the individual doing the eating; food as a language communicates ideas, values, and cultural practices, especially across the space of the Atlantic.

The exhibit examines texts and prints of the early Caribbean and places them within three broadly defined categories. Cannibalism and the Commodity Aesthetic addresses the pervasive idea of bodies both edible and capable of eating others, while also addressing the cannibalistic nature of Caribbean commodity chain and production. Cookery and Eating collects early cookbooks, tracts, recipes and manuals having to do with consumption and the eating cultures of colonial subjects. Raw Materials is a curated collection of texts and artwork related to salt, sugar, and other commodities that both drove Atlantic empire, created vast amounts of wealth, shaped the bodies and subjectivies of an enslaved labor force, and effectively put the Caribbean as a center of cultural production.

This exhibit invites scholars to contribute, analyze, transcribe, and discuss the many facets of foodways within the early Caribbean landscape, from sugarcane to breadfruit, from production to consumption. To participate, become a member of the ECDA Digital Scholars Lab — all are welcome!

Please create a user account here to begin collaborating.

Credits

Elizabeth Hopwood, Northeastern University