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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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New Deal, New Empire

New Deal, New Empire

Neocolonial Divisions of Labor, Sugar Consumers, and the Limits of Reform

(p.202) Chapter Eight New Deal, New Empire
Sugar and Civilization

April Merleaux

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter focuses on the debates over the political status of the island territories which took place through the New Deal sugar programs. Despite President Franklin D. Roosevelt's protest, Congress passed the Sugar Act of 1937, which explicitly limited imports of “direct-consumption” sugar—any sugar that could be eaten without further processing—from Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the Philippines, and Cuba. The chapter first examines the consequences of changes in the refined sugar tariff in 1930 before discussing the emergence of piloncillo as an alternative to the refined sugar produced by Mexican workers in the United States. It also considers how the issue of race became intertwined with health problems attributed to sugar, including dental decay and obesity.

Keywords:   island territories, New Deal, Sugar Act, sugar, refined sugar, piloncillo, Mexican workers, race, dental decay, obesity

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