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2022年3月21日 (月)

Kawakita, Minoru, A World History of Sugar, 1996 [summary and comments].

Author Minoru Kawakita
Title: The World History of Sugar

Publisher Iwanami Shoten
Publication Date 1996/7/22
Number of pages 208 pages
Remarks Iwanami Junior Shinsho No.276

 
※本記事の日本語版は、こちら。
川北 稔 『砂糖の世界史』1996年〔要約とコメント〕(PDFファイルを添付20180212): 本に溺れたい

◆Prologue The Mysteries of Sugar
 A product that is well-liked and sold everywhere in the world is called a "world commodity. Therefore, if you can monopolize a world commodity, you can gain a huge profit. In fact, the history of the world since the 16th century has been a history of competition to see which country can hold the world commodity at any given time. The earliest example is, of course, sugar.

◆Chapter 1: Where Did European Sugar Come From?
 The cultivation of sugar cane requires adequate rainfall and temperature, and because it consumes the soil, it must be moved one after another in search of fresh arable land. In addition, sugar refining required regular collective labor, much like slave labor. Therefore, the sugar cane brought full-fledged slavery to all of its spreading areas and changed the way of life.
 It was through Muslims that Europeans first learned about the cultivation of sugarcane and the art of sugar refining. Among them, the Portuguese started sugar plantations with slaves on African and Atlantic islands. Later, Columbus and other Europeans brought sugar cane to the New World, and useful plants and animals from the New World were brought back to Europe and studied in botanical gardens. This exchange of plants and animals between Europe, Asia, and the New Continent is called the "Columbian Exchange. Portugal also brought black slaves from Africa and brought sugar plantations to Brazil, where sugar cane was cultivated on a large scale. Brazil was the center of world sugar production in the 16th century.


◆Chapter 2: The Caribbean and Sugar
 The center of world sugar production shifted to the Caribbean Sea in the 17th century. This began with the occupation of Jamaica, which had been Spanish territory, by the British government forces of Oliver Cromwell and made it British territory. The Europeans thus invested large sums of money to establish plantations in the Caribbean for the purpose of sugar, which had become a "world commodity," and introduced African slaves at a furious pace to serve as labor on the plantations. This rapid change was called the "Sugar Revolution," and the "Sugar Revolution" turned the region into a "monoculture" that could only produce sugar cane. This is the reason why the region is still a developing country today. In addition, the triangular trade that brought Africans to the Caribbean and exported the sugar made by the African slaves to Europe, and exchanged what was made in Europe for what was made in Africa, brought enormous profits to Europe.


◆Chapter 3: Sugar Meets Tea
 Sugar once had more significance as an expensive precious commodity, such as medicine and ornamentation, than as a sweetener. However, the situation changed drastically when the "sugar revolution" began in the Caribbean islands in the 17th century. Gradually, it became cheap and available in large quantities. Further stimulating people's demand for sugar was the spread of the habit of drinking tea and coffee. In England, in particular, it became fashionable for aristocrats and gentlemen to drink expensive tea with expensive sugar, which rapidly spread to the general public. This was possible because the English sat at the center of the trade links between Europe and Asia, America, and Africa, and the English had the cheapest access to tea, sugar, and other products produced by people all over the world.


◆Chapter 4: Modern Culture Fostered by Coffee Houses
 In the late 17th and 18th centuries, coffeehouses were all the rage in London and other English cities. Coffee was the main drink at first, but since the supply of coffee did not last long and it was quite difficult to make, it did not spread to ordinary households.
 Coffeehouses played the role of information centers of the time, where information on various topics such as economics and natural sciences were exchanged. It was also the birthplace of a new literature, the novel, and political parties. The coffeehouse culture was carried on by merchants and citizens like the planters, who became very wealthy from sugar and tobacco.


◆Chapter 5: Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate
 Tea became popular in England and was less prevalent in homes in European countries other than England, such as France. One reason for this is that European countries other than England can produce good quality wine at home. Another reason is that England had the East India Company, which was very successful in the Chinese tea trade. Coffeehouses, known as cafes, remain in France today, while coffeehouses in England disappeared after about 100 years. The reason for this difference is that coffee, which is difficult to make at home, became popular as a beverage in France, and there was demand for cafes. On the other hand, tea, which became popular in England, can be made at home relatively easily, so there was no need to use coffeehouses. Before the U.S. gained independence, it was a British colony, and tea was the beverage of choice. Now, however, it is the land of coffee and Coca-Cola. This is because before independence, the United States was forced to pay heavy taxes from the British mainland and became increasingly aware that it was a different country from the United Kingdom, leading to a strong belief that it should not only be politically independent, but also culturally independent.
 Chocolate also spread as a beverage for the upper classes and eventually became integrated with sugar and spread to the lower classes as a world commodity.


◆Chapter 6: "Where There Is Sugar, There Are Slaves"
 The trade in "world commodities" obtained in the colonies, such as sugar and tobacco, brought enormous profits, so the British and French went to war repeatedly throughout the 18th century. The wars were struggles over securing colonies, but they were also important in terms of who would sell African slaves to the Spanish colonies of South America. This was because Spain had a vast South American colony but no base in Africa, and thus could not obtain the slave labor needed for sugar plantations on its own. The Spanish government, in desperate need of slaves, concluded contracts with foreign countries for the purchase of slaves, known as asientos, which brought in huge profits.
 Thus, throughout the 18th century, England, France, the Netherlands, and Portugal fought each other, and finally, at the Treaty of Paris, England took control of world trade. English merchants profited from the slave trade, from the sugar produced by their slaves, and from the export of English goods to their colonies, which were limited to sugar plantations. Britain became a "rich society.


◆Chapter 7: English Breakfast and "Tea Break" - Workers' Tea
 The English "tea with sugar" breakfast was established by two foods brought in from both sides of the globe. This was made possible by Britain's position at the "core" of world commerce. This is called the "modern world system. Tea began in the 17th century as a status symbol among English ladies, but the modern world system gradually spread both tea and sugar to the lower classes of the population. Finally, they also became symbols of the British urban worker during the Industrial Revolution.


◆Chapter 8: Slavery and the Politics of Sugar
 In the early nineteenth century, food policy was undergoing a major shift in England. Public opinion on grain was rapidly shifting from a position of protection of producers (landowners and farmers) to one of protection of consumers, mainly urban workers, and factory owners who wanted to keep worker wages low. The Grain Act, which had protected agriculture, was repealed in 1846, and Britain began to import more and more grain from Eastern Europe, the United States, and South America. The same was true for sugar and tea. Due to extremely high sugar tariffs, sugar produced in the British colonies was quite expensive for workers. Therefore, the "Manchester School," led by factory owners, attacked the "West Indies School," led by sugar planters, in the form of criticism of the slave trade and slavery. The slave trade was abolished in 1807, and slavery was abolished throughout the British colonies in 1833. When the "West Indians" collapsed, sugar tariffs were reduced one after another in the 1840s. Around the same time, the East India Company's monopoly on the tea trade was also abolished. These were aimed at using the world system to secure a "cheap breakfast" for the workers.


◆Chapter 9: The End of the Sugar Cane's Journey - The Beet Challenge
 Because of the importance of sugar as a "world commodity," a method to produce sugar other than sugarcane was sought, and the development of the beet (sugar radish) was promoted from the 18th century. Beet cultivation has become quite widespread, but sugar cane still accounts for 60% of the world's recent sugar production. However, in today's affluent countries, diets have changed so drastically that the focus is on how to reduce calories, and sugar's historical mission is now coming to an end. However, we must not forget that there was a time when sugar shone brilliantly as a driving force of world history.


◆Epilogue World History through Objects: How Should We Study World History?
 Looking at history through objects reveals two important things. First, we can see a concrete picture of the lives of people in various regions. The second is that we can see global connections at a glance.
 There are many ways to look at history, but now that "the world is one," it is important to look at historical events and situations one by one in the context of "global connections," as in this book.


◆After reading
 I believe that one should read through these excellent history books in order to obtain a consistent picture of history, rather than just a list of passive knowledge of world history. It made me think that if I read them hard during my junior and senior high school years, I would not be so easily deceived by other people's discourses when I grow up.
 The various things that the Cromwell administration did have extraordinary consequences for later British and world history. We need to carefully examine this administration once again without religious overtones.
 This is an excellent book for us to reconsider the "function" of "free trade" and "globalization" in our history. A must read.


◆Points I learned
The "Boston Tea Party Affair" triggered the American Revolutionary Movement. Ever since high school, I had been aware that it was just some kind of tea party that had spiraled out of control. It was the first time I realized that "tea party" here meant a political force or party. Shame on me.


◆Misprint.
There is one point. In this book, p. 24, L.3, "Tahiti Island in the Atlantic Ocean" should clearly be "Tahiti Island in the Pacific Ocean". Since 24 years have passed since the first edition, we think it should be corrected.


For the convenience of readers, we have made this article available in PDF format. We hope you will find it useful. [20180212 added].

「the_history_of_sugar_summary_comment.pdf」をダウンロード

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