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Alcohol in the Atlantic  

David Carey Jr.

Dating from the earliest times in Latin America, alcohol has played a crucial social, economic, political, and cultural role. Often reserved for politico-religious leaders, alcohol was a conduit through which power flowed in many pre-contact indigenous societies; indigenous drinkways (production, commerce, and consumption habits) were associated with communal ritual events and social prestige. Introduced to the Americas by Europeans, distillation profoundly altered the potency of alcoholic drinks for people who were accustomed to fermentation. Even as the social and cultural practices of alcohol consumption changed over time, alcohol continued to have political and economic implications in the colonial and national periods in Latin America. Fearing that inebriation bred disorder and recognizing that moonshining undercut their own revenues, colonial and national governments alike sought to regulate, if not control, the production, sale, and consumption of alcohol. In nations as diverse as Mexico, Bolivia, Peru, and Guatemala, indigenous women came to play integral roles in the (oftentimes illicit) sale and production of alcohol. A cash nexus for moving labor and land and a crucial component of the economic system by which (often unscrupulous) labor brokers recruited workers, alcohol was a currency of local economies. As a commodity of local, national, and international significance, alcohol shaped the fate of nation-states. People’s class, ethnic, race, and gender identities all played into their access to alcohol. Although a person’s choice of libation could define their position, some of the more fascinating histories of alcohol are punctuated with women and men who used alcohol to disrupt social conventions. Through the consumption of alcohol, rituals and ceremonies created and reconstituted community both within and across ethnic groups. Imbibing could also divide people. Even while they sipped their cognacs and brandies, elites portrayed indigenous people, the poor, and other marginalized people getting drunk on moonshine to discount and denigrate them. Often associated with (particularly violent) crime, alcohol was seen as a vice by many and excoriated during temperance movements. Yet defendants across Latin America took advantage of judicial systems that considered alcohol a mitigating circumstance in many crimes. As 20th-century evangelical sects that preached abstinence as the route to wealth and marital bliss grew to unprecedented numbers, traditional healers and biomedical practitioners continued to tout alcohol’s medicinal value. In short, alcohol was a marker of social position and cultural identity, a crucial component in community and state building, and a commodity around which different cultural traditions, healing practices, and policing policies developed and evolved.

Article

Barcelona Business Interests and the Atlantic World  

Yolanda Blasco-Martel and Jose Miguel Sanjuan Marroquin

Barcelona is an ancient Mediterranean Catalan city. It was inhabited by the Iberians, the Romans, and the Muslims, who turned it into an important port city. In the 10th century it became the capital of an independent county. It merged with the Crown of Aragon two centuries later and thus began a process of intensive commercial expansion that has characterized the city’s history of over the intervening centuries. The merchants from Barcelona were actively involved in trade with America in the 18th century, as were those from some other cities from the Kingdom of Spain. The last decades of that century saw the beginning of a process of population and commercial exchange that continued to develop through the 19th century. This process helped Barcelona become the first city on the Iberian Peninsula to industrialize. It is during this period that we observe the emergence of the indianos—individuals born on the peninsula who went to do business in America. Many indianos returned to the peninsula after the loss of the Spanish Continental Empire, others moved to Cuba and Puerto Rico, the last Spanish colonies in the Antilles. Around these individuals, commerce and business of all kinds were developed, giving Barcelona the appearance of an open and cosmopolitan city that it has maintained ever since.

Article

Digital Resources: The “Carreño Memories: Manners, Society, History” Project  

Patience Schell

Across the Spanish-speaking world, the term “Carreño” has become a cultural shorthand for good manners and refined behavior, used to frame television chat show discussions about courtesy and admonish alleged etiquette infractions. The “Carreño” in question was Venezuelan Manuel Antonio Carreño (1813–1874) who published a conduct and etiquette guide, El manual de urbanidad y buenas maneras, in 1853. This text became an almost instant bestseller across the Spanish-speaking world and a publishing phenomenon that has remained in print, in original and updated versions, into the 21st century. Patience Schell has taught the Manual de urbanidad, finding that students engage more readily with issues like hierarchies, urbanization, and citizenship in Latin American when allowed to discuss sneezing, teeth brushing, the rudeness of snoring, and why men should always wear ties at home. Lively classroom discussions, prompted by the Manual, made Schell think that the text could be converted into a game. That idea became the seed of the “Carreño Memories: Manners, Society, History” website, based on Schell’s database of the many editions, reprints and adaptations of Carreño’s Manual. The bilingual site includes information on the text’s history, an interactive globe and timeline both displaying information about the texts, as well as a contribution page so that visitors can archive their own interactions with Carreño’s books and thus preserve this important aspect of the Manual’s history.

Article

The Welsh Colony in Patagonia  

Marcelo Gavirati

In July of 1865, some 160 Welsh immigrants settled in the valley of the Chubut River, located in the middle of a Patagonian territory controlled by the Indigenous Tehuelche. This was to be the beginning of a unique colonization process. Unlike many other migratory experiences, the colonizing effort promoted by a group of Welsh nationalist leaders was aimed at liberating their compatriots from the oppression to which they felt they had been subjected in the United Kingdom. Their utopian objective was to establish a “New Wales,” in which they could work their own land, freely practice their language (Cymraeg, in Welsh) and the religion of their nonconformist denominations, and achieve a certain degree of political autonomy. In spite of facing an unknown and arid territory, the Welsh managed to produce wheat irrigated by canals. What is more, they would overcome prejudices about the “savage” nature of the Indigenous peoples, eventually working with the Pampa and Tehuelche tribes to develop a model of peaceful coexistence based on complementary economic practices, providing a unique example of relations between Europeans and Native Americans. Economic development allowed the arrival of additional contingents of settlers. During the first decades, Welsh was the language of daily life, in social, political, economic, cultural, and religious contexts. The valley of the Chubut River became dotted with chapels. But in 1885, after the military campaigns that deprived the Indigenous peoples of their territories, the Argentine government materialized its sovereign presence over Patagonia. Although in 1891 Argentina made possible the creation of a new Welsh settlement in a valley of the Andean foothills, the process of nationalization and assimilation was underway. Influences within the political and educational spheres, as well as the arrival of immigrants of other nationalities, allowed the national government to gradually displace the Welsh from their position of primacy in the Chubut territory. Although the autonomous Welsh Utopia did not flourish, some traces remain. More than 155 years after the arrival of the first contingent, there are still Welsh speakers and students in Patagonia. The eisteddfod and the arrival of the first immigrants’ ship are celebrated every July 28, a date officially considered to be the founding of the current province of Chubut.