The Body of the Conquistador: Food, Race and the Colonial Experience in Spanish America, 1492?1700

Overview

This fascinating history explores the dynamic relationship between overseas colonisation and the bodily experience of eating. It reveals the importance of food to the colonial project in Spanish America and reconceptualises the role of European colonial expansion in shaping the emergence of ideas of race during the Age of Discovery. Rebecca Earle shows that anxieties about food were fundamental to Spanish understandings of the new environment they inhabited and their interactions with the native populations of ...
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The Body of the Conquistador

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Overview

This fascinating history explores the dynamic relationship between overseas colonisation and the bodily experience of eating. It reveals the importance of food to the colonial project in Spanish America and reconceptualises the role of European colonial expansion in shaping the emergence of ideas of race during the Age of Discovery. Rebecca Earle shows that anxieties about food were fundamental to Spanish understandings of the new environment they inhabited and their interactions with the native populations of the New World. Settlers wondered whether Europeans could eat New World food, whether Indians could eat European food and what would happen to each if they did. By taking seriously their ideas about food we gain a richer understanding of how settlers understood the physical experience of colonialism and of how they thought about one of the central features of the colonial project. The result is simultaneously a history of food, colonialism and race.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With its focus on food and corporeal well-being, The Body of the Conquistador opens a fascinating new chapter in Spain’s conquest and colonization of the Americas. What were Spaniards to eat as they encountered unfamiliar foodstuffs - avocados, maize, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and more - that reportedly did irreparable damage to both body and mind? As for the natives, was their stature and temperament connected to “the poor quality of the food they eat”? Would the ingestion of wheat, pork, and other Iberian staples hasten their conversion to Christianity? to a more European style of life? As Earle explains in this new important study, these and related questions sparked lively debate on both sides of the Atlantic. Stunningly original and deeply researched, her book is not to be missed. It is essential reading for both the history of the Americas and early modern ideas about the relationship between food, culture, bodies, and health."
Richard L. Kagan, The Johns Hopkins University

"Clearly written and based on impressive primary and secondary research, Earle's book belongs in every academic and large public library. Essential."
Choice

"This book is a highly original study that uses a new and very fruitful methodological approach. Earle’s research is superb and far-ranging. This is certainly a study that specialists of the colonial world, food history, and race should read."
Hispanic American Historical Review

From the Publisher
"With its focus on food and corporeal well-being, The Body of the Conquistador opens a fascinating new chapter in Spain’s conquest and colonization of the Americas. What were Spaniards to eat as they encountered unfamiliar foodstuffs - avocados, maize, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and more - that reportedly did irreparable damage to both body and mind? As for the natives, was their stature and temperament connected to 'the poor quality of the food they eat'? Would the ingestion of wheat, pork, and other Iberian staples hasten their conversion to Christianity? to a more European style of life? As Earle explains in this new important study, these and related questions sparked lively debate on both sides of the Atlantic. Stunningly original and deeply researched, her book is not to be missed. It is essential reading for both the history of the Americas and early modern ideas about the relationship between food, culture, bodies, and health."
Richard L. Kagan, The Johns Hopkins University

"Clearly written and based on impressive primary and secondary research, Earle's book belongs in every academic and large public library. Essential."
Choice

"This book is a highly original study that uses a new and very fruitful methodological approach. Earle's research is superb and far-ranging. This is certainly a study that specialists of the colonial world, food history, and race should read."
Hispanic American Historical Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781107693296
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/20/2014
  • Series: Critical Perspectives on Empire
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 278
  • Sales rank: 578,863
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Earle is Professor of History at the University of Warwick. Her previous publications include The Return of the Native: Indians and Mythmaking in Spanish America, 1810–1930 (2008).
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Table of Contents

Introduction: food and the colonial experience; 1. Humoralism and the colonial body; 2. Protecting the European body; 3. Providential fertility; 4. Maize, which is their wheat; 5. You will become the same if you eat their food; 6. Mutable bodies in Spain and the Indies; Epilogue; Bibliography.
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