The Sweet Life of Sidney Mintz. Before there was salt, there was sugar.
Before there was coal, ice, and bananas, there was sugar. Before there was a long list of one-word, bestselling histories about globe-shaping commodities, there was Sidney Mintz’s ur text of the ur commodity of the modern world, Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History. With it, Mintz’s accomplishments went far beyond launching a new mode of history writing; the book also contributed to a sea change that placed human agency at the center of anthropology and offered a profound correction to how we understand modern history.
Published in 1985, Sweetness and Power accounted for New and Old World histories, the rise of Atlantic slavery and industrialism, and more than five hundred years of elite and plebian tastes, folding them into one easily digestible confection. Sweetness and Power explained how we live—how world market systems shape taste and vice versa—in ways that no previous book had managed. The Meaning of Money in China and the United States. We, the authors of this afterword,1 belong to different intellectual generations.
This difference, our ongoing conversations, and our exchanges with Emily Martin all frame our combined reflections on these Morgan Lectures. We take note of the time that these lectures were written and delivered (1986), and then suggest how their new availability, in widely accessible forms, invites new conversations: across disciplines, in comparative studies, and in the advancing analytics of the study of money. Filling in the background on how she composed her Morgan Lectures, Emily Martin paints an evocative and lively account of life from nearly four decades ago in Johns Hopkins’ Anthropology Department.
Her reminiscence fits well with my own memories of those years, meanwhile awakening yet other recalls. Generations of past research in economic anthropology are brought to mind, both through memories of personal encounters, and through surviving texts. I got to know Polanyi only slightly. JANE I. Fallece el antropólogo Sidney Mintz importante colaborador del Recinto. Por: Juan Giusti, Ph.D.
El pasado 27 de diciembre falleció el antropólogo Sidney W. Mintz, a los 93 años. El profesor Mintz tuvo una relación estrecha con Puerto Rico por casi siete décadas, desde sus días de estudiante graduado cuando realizó su investigación doctoral en Santa Isabel. En el 1996 el profesor Mintz recibió un doctorado Honoris Causa de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto de Río Piedras por recomendación de la Facultad de Humanidades. El profesor Mintz nació en Dover, Nueva Jersey, de padres inmigrantes oriundos de Bielorrusia.
Mintz realizó su investigación doctoral entre el 1947 y 1948 como parte del equipo que produjo The People of Puerto Rico (1956), proyecto dirigido por Julian Steward. El doctor Mintz fue profesor visitante en las universidades de Wesleyan, MIT, Princeton e Illinois, en la École Pratique des Hautes Études, el Collège de France, la Universidad de Munich, la Universidad China de Hong Kong y la Università di Scienze Gastronomiche. In Memoriam, Sidney Mintz, 1922-2015. Professor Sidney Wilfred Mintz, affectionately known as “Sid,” passed away on December 26, 2015.
In a first and now widely-shared post, Elizabeth Dunn succinctly conveyed the thoughts of so many: Our dear friend and intellectual touchstone Sidney Mintz passed away yesterday morning. He was 93. The founder of the anthropology of food, a brilliant observer of life in the Caribbean, an incisive critic of capitalism in its many manifestations, Sidney used the study of sugar to draw us into the fundamental questions of modern existence. It was a very sweet life, Sidney, and you will live on in our memories and in our work. A search on Facebook or Twitter provides a glimpse of the initial outpouring of remembrances. This page is dedicated to tracking the posts and articles as they come in from around the world.
For the moment, here are four of Sidney Mintz’s major books: Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations . Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History.