Sugarlandia Revisited


Sugarlandia Revisited: Sugar and Colonialism in Asia and the Americas, 1800 to 1940
Edited by Ulbe Bosma, Juan Giusto-Cordero and G. Roger Knight
2007, Berghahn Books
233 pages, hardback

THERE WERE some intriguing differences in the behaviour of the Spanish immigrant bourgeoisie in Puerto Rico and the same class in Cuba following the US annexation of the former and its de facto annexation of the latter in 1898. In the former, the Spanish economic and political elites embraced the island’s loyalties and the quest for nationhood, yet in the latter they remained deeply suspicious of Cuban nationalism and effective support for its sovereignty from Washington. Clues as to why reside largely in the fact that 1898 marked the beginning of the mass production of sugar. In Sugarlandia Revisited, a valuable collection of essays that offers a comparative analysis of the role of sugar in the imperial policies pursued in Latin America and in Asia, Jorge Ibarra steers the reader towards an explanation for the different paths chosen by the Hispanic elite in both countries. Inevitably, this has much to do with what they saw as being in their interests: in Puerto Rico, they accepted the political hegemony of the US in order to protect their social privileges; in Cuba they resisted the expanding US dominance of the island’s economy in order to protect their interests. In those days, sugar was the equivalent of oil in terms of geopolitical and strategic interests. This volume provides interesting insights into the fateful relationship with empire across the world that this implied. – GO’T

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