Distilling the Influence of Alcohol:
Aguardiente in Guatemalan History

Edited by David Carey Jr.

Foreword by William B. Taylor
Hardcover: $74.95
Hardcover ISBN 13:Pubdate: Details:
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"This important collection of essays creatively uses the prism of alcohol to increase our understanding of Guatemala's role in the broader Atlantic world and to unravel the complex negotiations that shaped the construction of this diverse regional context."--Frederick H. Smith, author of Caribbean Rum: A Social and Economic History

"With case studies from Mam, Q’anjob’al, Kaqchikel, and African American communities, this volume provides fine-grained historical accounts that enrich our understanding of everyday life in Guatemala while providing provocative interpretive takes on their implications."--Todd Little-Siebold, College of the Atlantic

Sugar, coffee, corn, and chocolate have long dominated the study of Central American commerce, and researchers tend to overlook one other equally significant commodity: alcohol. Often illicitly produced and consumed, aguardiente (distilled sugar cane spirits or rum) was central to Guatemalan daily life, though scholars have often neglected its fundamental role in the country's development.
Throughout world history, alcohol has helped build family livelihoods, boost local economies, and forge nations. The alcohol economy also helped shape Guatemala's turbulent categories of ethnicity, race, class, and gender, as these essays demonstrate. Established and emerging Guatemalan historians investigate aguardiente's role from the colonial era to the twentieth century, drawing from archival documents, oral histories, and ethnographic sources. Topics include women in the alcohol trade, taverns as places of social unrest, and tension between Maya and State authority.
By tracing Guatemala's past, people, and national development through the channel of an alcoholic beverage, Distilling the Influence of Alcohol opens new directions for Central American historical and anthropological research.

David Carey Jr. is professor of history and women and gender studies at the University of Southern Maine and author of Engendering Mayan History: Kaqchikel Women as Agents and Conduits of the Past, 1874-1970, and Our Elders Teach Us: Maya-Kaqchikel Historical Perspectives.

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An outstanding addition to our knowledge of Guatemala and the history of commodities.-- American Historical Review

Perhaps its most arresting and thought-provoking finding is to remind us that, for better or worse, alcohol was one of the very few products or activities in Guatemala that continually forced the crossing of ethnic, gender, and regional boundaries.-- Journal of Latin American Studies

takes a significant step in “decaffeinating” Guatemalan history. But, perhaps more importantly, Carey’s edited volume provides a wealth of historical data around unexpected gendered contestations against the state, debates over privatizations of public goods, and resilient cultural and class-based arguments repeatedly levied in order to challenge the morality of elites.-- The Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology

Engaging… articulate[s] the intimate historical, social, cultural, and political interrelationships between alcohol and Guatemala’s people and the way that Guatemalans used alcohol to facilitate ongoing gender, racial, and ethnic negotiations.-- Ethnohistory

An important collection of essays… [that] clearly shows how studying alcohol can shed new light on broader questions in Guatemalan and Latin American history, particularly regarding nation-building processes, and how these are shaped by issues of race, class, and gender. -- Hispanic American Historical Review

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