Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World

Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures: A History of Tobacco and Chocolate in the Atlantic World

by Marcy Norton
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0801444934

ISBN-13: 9780801444937

Pub. Date: 10/28/2008

Publisher: Cornell University Press

Before Columbus's fateful voyage in 1492, no European had ever seen, much less tasted, tobacco or chocolate. Initially dismissed as dry leaves and an odd Indian drink, these two commodities came to conquer Europe on a scale unsurpassed by any other American resource or product. A fascinating story of contact, exploration, and exchange in the Atlantic world,

Overview

Before Columbus's fateful voyage in 1492, no European had ever seen, much less tasted, tobacco or chocolate. Initially dismissed as dry leaves and an odd Indian drink, these two commodities came to conquer Europe on a scale unsurpassed by any other American resource or product. A fascinating story of contact, exploration, and exchange in the Atlantic world, Sacred Gifts, Profane Pleasures traces the ways in which these two goods of the Americas both changed and were changed by Europe.

Focusing on the Spanish Empire, Marcy Norton investigates how tobacco and chocolate became material and symbolic links to the pre-Hispanic past for colonized Indians and colonizing Europeans alike. Botanical ambassadors of the American continent, they also profoundly affected Europe. Tobacco, once condemned as proof of Indian diabolism, became the constant companion of clergymen and the single largest source of state revenue in Spain. Before coffee or tea became popular in Europe, chocolate was the drink that energized the fatigued and uplifted the depressed. However, no one could quite forget the pagan past of tobacco and chocolate, despite their apparent Europeanization: physicians relied on Mesoamerican medical systems for their understanding of tobacco; theologians looked to Aztec precedent to decide whether chocolate drinking violated Lenten fasts.

The struggle of scientists, theologians, and aficionados alike to reconcile notions of European superiority with the fact of American influence shaped key modern developments ranging from natural history to secularization. Norton considers the material, social, and cultural interaction between Europe and the Americas with historical depth and insight that goes beyond the portrayal of Columbian exchange simply as a matter of exploitation, infection, and conquest.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801444937
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
10/28/2008
Series:
1/29/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
334
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.60(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents


List of Maps, Tables, and Illustrations     ix
Acknowledgments     xi
List of Abbreviations     xiii
Introduction     1
Experiencing the Sacred and the Social     13
Encountering Novelties     44
Adapting under Colonialism     63
Going Native     84
Learning from Indians     107
Enduring Idolatry     129
Commodifying across the Atlantic     141
Consuming Rituals     173
Monopolizing Vice     201
Enchanting the Profane     229
Epilogue: Globalization, Gateways, and Transformations     257
Notes     267
Glossary     321
Index     325

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