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Sugar and Modernity in Latin America

Project: Research

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Description

Sugar has become an important economic and cultural commodity in most parts of lation America. Since Columbus brought sugar cane from the Canary islands on his second trip to the New World, sugar has played an important role in the political and economic history of major parts of thecontinent, especially of the caribbean area.
For many years sugar was produced by slaves and forced labour for the North American and European markets. Today, many Latin American countries continue to produce sugar for a global market, but sugar is no longer an aristocratic luxury. Instead, the consumption of sugar has globalized and filtered down to the lower classes in society. Changing consumption patterns mean that the intake of sugar-rich food products is growing steadily in most parts of Latin America and many studies have pointed at an associated increase in health problems such as obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.
The proposed cross-disciplinary project addresses sanitary, political and cultural aspects of the globalization and modernization of sugar consumption in Latin America. By using the case of sugar – and the ways in which this good is produced, distributed and consumed – the project explores different aspects of the processes of modernization in Latin America and throws light on the different forms of knowledge and perceptions that exist among different groups in Latin America. This implies an interest in knowledge creation and distribution on both micro-, meso- and macro- levels. The aim of the project is to highlight the following questions:
A) What is sugar physiological context? Is sugar the source of the epidemic growth rate seen in diseases of affluence, especially in developing countries? Is there a link with high intake of sugar products and the risk of developing diabetes?
B) Are there differences in cultivation and production methods of sugar in America? What impact has sugar production on soil quality? Is sugar production responsible for depletion and leaching of soil?
C) What is the role of sugar in ordinary people's everyday life? In what ways and times is sugar-containing products consumed? In which social contexts are sugar-containing products used and in what ways?
D) How is sugar consumed in public spaces? What kind of ideas about sugar is communicated through advertising, literature and other cultural products? What symbolic and religious ideas of sugary products are disseminated in different social contexts?
E) What knowledge is made available to the public? Is knowledge about sugar evenly distributed? What sources of knowledge is available? What institutions and organizations involved in the dissemination of knowledge and what power relationships are they in?
The project is considered as novel due to its transdisciplinary characteristics.
AcronymSUMOLA
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date29/11/200812/12/2013

Activities

Press/Media

Research outputs

ID: 128942012