Questions to answer for Caribbean history: Dr. Siry.

A comparison of the divergent ideas in Paz, Mintz and Crosby about the origins of Latin America in the Caribbean.

Analysis -- means to say what the text is assuming based on evidence. It is a method of breaking complex structures into their constituent parts, such as ecological history examining where people live, how people earn a living, what they eat, and what they die from.

Select a reading (chapter from below & examine in light of Mintz, & Crosby above):

Mintz’s Argument

The linkage between Caribbean slaves and European free laborers was a linkage of production and hence also of consumption, created by the single system of which they were both parts.

Mintz ,p. 57

Sydney Mintz,

Diet, taste and health as arbiters of human fate, destiny.
“Sugar -- or rather the great commodity market which arose demanding it -- has been one of the massive demographic forces in world history.”

Mintz, p. 71

“… and sugar still moves people around the Caribbean.”

“ a good,” a trading commodity, condiment, topping - ingredient,

Sugar was long a therapy for disease because it releases energy in the body and that behavioral response was mistaken for healing.

“572 thousand tons of sugar production, 1830 to 6 million tons in 1890. increase

A fivefold increase in sugar among the British in 19th century
“no other food in history has had a comparable performance.”

p. 73.

What is the difference between Crosby’s approach to ecological history (his model) and Mintz’s approach to culture and diet (his model)?

Inevitability of biology constraining culture vs. Mintz’s contention that “there is nothing natural or inevitable about these processes.”

p. 8

Crosby’s approach ecological history

Demography, population change
Biota: scale of impact of flora and fauna,
Diet and disease
Economy and ecology

Health and perhaps spread of pathogens and exotic biota, its association with other features...

serve as an index....

Columbian Exchange

  from America to the America’s
Character of a people:    
Material items:


Octavio Paz:


La Malinche, Conquest and Colonialism, Mexican Masks, Day of the Dead.

How does Paz diverge from the above analysis of biology and culture?

Solitude -- is a longing for ... a place.

Mexico the dual identity as the shame of the conquest -- a kind of original sin -- out of which we are redeemed.

Twin deities:

Aztec and Christian
Mayan and Christian

What dominates Paz’s understanding of Latin identity?

The fusion of elements in the dialectical tension creating a new cultural identity.

Paz, Mintz and Crosby on the Legacy of the Columbian Exchange

The Labyrinth of Solitude, 1950 History