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Sugar and CivilizationAmerican Empire and the Cultural Politics of Sweetness$
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April Merleaux

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781469622514

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469622514.001.0001

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Sugar’s Civilizing Mission

Sugar’s Civilizing Mission

Immigration, Race, and the Politics of Empire, 1898–1913

(p.28) Chapter One Sugar’s Civilizing Mission
Sugar and Civilization

April Merleaux

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter considers the imperial politics of sugar in the early decades after the Spanish American War, with particular emphasis on overlapping debates about trade, migration, environmental, and imperial policies between 1898 and 1913. It examines how colonial administrators for Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the Philippines addressed the challenge of regulating the flows of sugar and the labor required to produce it by making cane sugar production the major focus of their “civilizing mission.” It shows how reductions in sugar tariffs, combined with land, irrigation, and immigration policies, created landscapes favorable to producing sugar. It describes the outcome of U.S. expansionism in the early twentieth century as a cultural politics of sugar linked to notions of race and nation.

Keywords:   imperial politics, sugar, cane sugar production, civilizing mission, sugar tariffs, irrigation, immigration policy, race, expansionism, trade

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