Empirical Futures

Empirical Futures: Anthropologists and Historians Engage the Work of Sidney W. Mintz

GEORGE BACA
AISHA KHAN
STEPHAN PALMIÉ
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5149/9780807895344_baca
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    Empirical Futures
    Book Description:

    Since the 1950s, anthropologist Sidney W. Mintz has been at the forefront of efforts to integrate the disciplines of anthropology and history. Author ofSweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern Historyand other groundbreaking works, he was one of the first scholars to anticipate and critique "globalization studies." However, a strong tradition of epistemologically sophisticated and theoretically informed empiricism of the sort advanced by Mintz has yet to become a cornerstone of contemporary anthropological scholarship. This collection of essays by leading anthropologists and historians serves as an intervention that rests on Mintz's rigorously historicist ethnographic work, which has long predicted the methodological crisis in anthropology today.Contributors to this volume build on Mintzean interdisciplinarity to provide productive ways to theorize the everyday life of local groups and communities, nation-states, and regions and the interconnections among them. Consisting of theoretical and case studies of Latin America, North America, the Caribbean, and Papua New Guinea,Empirical Futuresdemonstrates how Mintzean perspectives advance our understanding of the relationship among empirical approaches, the uses of ethnographic and historical data and theory-building, and the study of these from both local and global vantage points.Contributors:George Baca, Goucher CollegeFrederick Cooper, New York UniversityVirginia R. Dominguez, University of IllinoisFrederick Errington, Trinity CollegeDeborah Gewertz, Amherst CollegeJuan Giusti-Cordero, University of Puerto Rico at Rio PiedrasAisha Khan, New York UniversitySamuel Martinez, University of ConnecticutStephan Palmie, University of ChicagoJane Schneider, City University of New York Graduate CenterRebecca J. Scott, University of Michigan

    eISBN: 978-1-4696-0455-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-30)
    STEPHAN PALMIÉ, AISHA KHAN and GEORGE BACA

    It has by now become a cliché to lament, or to celebrate, the current state of the art in the social sciences as one where all that once was solid has melted into the air. After the so-called reflexive and historic turns in the social sciences, particularly since the paradigm shifts of the mid-1980s and 1990s (sometimes referred to as the “postmodern revolution”), social scientists are only too aware of the charges leveled at their disciplines by their internal as well as external critics. The resulting conundrums about mission, purpose, and method stand out to us most strikingly in the...

  5. SPACE, TIME, AND HISTORY THE CONCEPTUAL LIMITS OF GLOBALIZATION
    (pp. 31-57)
    FREDERICK COOPER

    Anthropology, like other fields of inquiry, has of late become as fascinated by connections as it long has been by place. Not only did Sidney Mintz anticipate the recent interest in space-crossing phenomena by decades, but he made clear that such processes have been shaping the way the world works for centuries. For him, studying production, exchange, and the different cultural forms of power and interaction was not a matter of studying spatially bounded processes and then comparing them but of exploring change within a large spatial system. Avoiding the older concept of the “anthropological present” and the newer assumption...

  6. BEYOND SUGAR REVOLUTIONS RETHINKING THE SPANISH CARIBBEAN IN THE SEVENTEENTH AND EIGHTEENTH CENTURIES
    (pp. 58-83)
    JUAN GIUSTI-CORDERO

    The history of the Spanish-speaking islands of the Caribbean (Cuba, Hispaniola/Santo Domingo, and Puerto Rico) in the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries is almost uncharted territory.⁴ During two centuries, when the English, French, and Danish territories of the Caribbean underwent a “sugar revolution” and became slave-plantation societies generating immense wealth, the Spanish islands seem to lapse (after their early importance in the sixteenth century) into poor colonial backwaters almost outside history.

    Sidney Mintz has been the rare Caribbean scholar who has studied the historical development of the Spanish Antilles while reflecting on their overall role in Caribbean social history. From a...

  7. MICROHISTORY SET IN MOTION A NINETEENTH-CENTURY ATLANTIC CREOLE ITINERARY
    (pp. 84-111)
    REBECCA J. SCOTT

    Sidney Mintz’sWorker in the Caneis a model life history, uncovering the subtlest of dynamics within plantation society by tracing the experiences of a single individual and his family. By contrast, Mintz’sSweetness and Powergains its force from taking the entire Atlantic world as its scope, examining the marketing, meanings, and consumption of sugar as they changed over time. This essay borrows from each of these two strategies, looking at the history of a single peripatetic family across three long-lived generations, from enslavement in West Africa in the eighteenth century through emancipation during the Haitian Revolution in the...

  8. ABSTINENCE AND POWER THE PLACE OF PROHIBITION IN AMERICAN
    (pp. 112-144)
    JANE SCHNEIDER

    This essay accepts the premise that formal colonization is a poor yardstick for imperial reach; that the United States became an industrial-capitalist empire largely (although not exclusively) by other means. And it experiments with an additional idea: that it is instructive to approach the great migrations to the United States from southern and eastern Europe as a variant of colonial conquest whose associated traumas of labor exploitation, cultural repression, and racism touched off struggles of profound historical significance, comparable in a way to the struggles that unfolded in western Europe’s formal colonies. Here I focus on an otherwise difficult to...

  9. EVIDENCE AND POWER, SWEET AND SOUR
    (pp. 145-172)
    VIRGINIA R. DOMINGUEZ

    This essay addresses a tricky problem at the intersection of epistemology and methodology that is central to Mintzian approaches to anthropology, history, power, ethnography, and political economy. To put it simply, it asks us to take a closer look at the pragmatics and politics of evidence in the production of knowledge. I am concerned, as Sidney Mintz has always been, with what counts as evidence, what should count as evidence even if others have failed to notice it, and how evidence is used to bolster claims in everyday life as well as in scholarship. That many of these claims and...

  10. JEALOUS WOMEN IN THE CANE
    (pp. 173-195)
    DEBORAH GEWERTZ and FREDERICK ERRINGTON

    It has been Sidney Mintz’s project of historical anthropology to explore and explain the Caribbean as modernity’s first site. By the second quarter of the seventeenth century, it was a place largely conquered and depopulated by disease and war—a veritable tabula rasa. It was a place to which Africans and, eventually, Asians (after the mid-nineteenth century) were brought by slavery and indenture to labor on plantations so as to produce commodities of significance to a European market (first sugar, rum, molasses, tobacco, cotton, indigo, and coffee, and then bananas, pineapples, coconuts, and nutmeg). It was a place in which...

  11. TOWARD AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF EXCESS WANTING MORE (WHILE GETTING LESS) ON A CARIBBEAN GLOBAL PERIPHERY
    (pp. 196-226)
    SAMUEL MARTÍNEZ

    One of Sidney Mintz’s fundamental but perhaps still-underappreciated theoretical-interpretive innovations within the anthropological study of consumption is his recasting of widely accepted conceptual binaries between personal experience and social meaning. In much prior social research, what peoplefeelas they consume goods was conventionally ignored in favor of consideration of what theythinkof goods as a sign of social status or identity. Inexplicit urges to consume were tacitly relegated by social researchers to the level of hereditary predispositions or other, nontheorizable phenomena, much less readily cognizable as the desires inculcated in us by society—such as aspirations to emulate...

  12. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 227-228)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 229-232)