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Alcohol in Latin America

A Social and Cultural History

Edited by Gretchen Pierce and Áurea Toxqui

Publication Year: 2014

Aguardente, chicha, pulque, vino—no matter whether it’s distilled or fermented, alcohol either brings people together or pulls them apart. Alcohol in Latin America is a sweeping examination of the deep reasons why. This book takes an in-depth look at the social and cultural history of alcohol and its connection to larger processes in Latin America. Using a painting depicting a tavern as a metaphor, the authors explore the disparate groups and individuals imbibing as an introduction to their study. In so doing, they reveal how alcohol production, consumption, and regulation have been intertwined with the history of Latin America since the pre-Columbian era.

Alcohol in Latin America is the first interdisciplinary study to examine the historic role of alcohol across Latin America and over a broad time span. Six locations—the Andean region, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Guatemala, and Mexico—are seen through the disciplines of anthropology, archaeology, art history, ethnohistory, history, and literature. Organized chronologically beginning with the colonial era, it features five chapters on Mesoamerica and five on South America, each focusing on various aspects of a dozen different kinds of beverages.

An in-depth look at how alcohol use in Latin America can serve as a lens through which race, class, gender, and state-building, among other topics, can be better understood, Alcohol in Latin America shows the historic influence of alcohol production and consumption in the region and how it is intimately connected to the larger forces of history.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-2

We would like to thank the many people who have helped this book to become a reality. Thanks to the contributors for writing such insightful pieces and for working with two junior scholars who had to balance editing with teaching responsibilities. Elena Jackson Albarrán, Jonathyne...

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pp. 3-20

A soldier, a priest, a girl, an old woman, a vagrant, a few country dwellers, and cattle bosses of different ethnicities seemingly have nothing in common that could encourage them to fraternize. But a deeper reading of the painting Interior of a Pulquería (ca. 1850) sheds light on multiple aspects...

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Part One: The Prehispanic and Colonial Periods

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pp. 21-24

The societies living in the Americas before the arrival of the Europeans were characterized by a strong sense of community reinforced through religious practices, rituals, and daily life patterns. Although societies developed along with the beginnings of agriculture as a regular activity (ca....

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Chapter One: A Glass for the Gods and a Gift to My Neighbor: The Importance of Alcohol in the Pre-Columbian Andes

Justin Jennings

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pp. 25-45

When the Spanish conquered Peru in 1532, they were both fascinated and repulsed by alcohol consumption in the Andes. Excessive drinking seemed to be encouraged, and, as the sixteenth-century chronicler Bernabé Cobo suggested, people often drank until they could not stand up.1 In the decades...

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Chapter Two: Liquid Fire: Alcohol, Identity, and Social Hierarchy in Colonial Brazil

João Azevedo Fernandes

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pp. 46-66

Brazil’s sugarcane aguardente, better known as cachaça, is an integral element of Brazilian culture and national identity. From the origins of its production, probably at the start of the seventeenth century, cachaça played a crucial part in the history of the country, in part due to its decisive...

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Chapter Three: Drunkenness and Interpersonal Violence in Colonial Michoacán

Aaron P. Althouse

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pp. 67-86

The role of alcohol in colonial Mexican rural society has been examined along several related lines of inquiry over the past half-century since Charles Gibson’s trailblazing study of central Mexican indigenous life after the conquest. The general development of research has been well...

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Part Two: The Long Nineteenth Century (1820s to 1930)

The period from the 1820s through 1930 brought major changes to the region as new nations struggled to forge their identities. In the several decades that followed independence, leaders, who mainly identified as either liberal or conservative, fundamentally disagreed about how to shape...

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Chapter Four: Wine Country: The Vineyard as National Space in Nineteenth-Century Argentina

Nancy Hanway

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pp. 89-103

Statesman-author Domingo Faustino Sarmiento (1811–1888) was governor of the province of San Juan, Argentina, in 1862, when he related this story of enological embarrassment. Considered one of the fathers of the modern Argentine nation and, at the time, its most prominent intellectual...

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Chapter Five: Breadwinners or Entrepreneurs?: Women’s Involvement in the Pulquería World of Mexico City, 1850–1910

Áurea Toxqui

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pp. 104-130

Although pulque and pulquerías have been the topic of many studies, mostly focusing on economics, little attention has been given to women’s active participation in this trade.1 In the second half of the nineteenth century, while elite white women owned large landholdings producing...

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Chapter Six: Drunks and Dictators: Inebriation’s Gendered, Ethnic, and Class Components in Guatemala, 1898–1944

David Carey Jr.

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pp. 131-158

For a postcolonial nation like Guatemala, whose early twentieth-century leaders were trying to present it as modern in the eyes of the Atlantic World, alcohol’s social ills were problematic. Inebriated men and women yelling, carousing, and fighting in the streets belied claims of public order...

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Part Three: The Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

During the twentieth century, Latin America experienced a broad range of changes in political and economic systems and strong participation of the disaffected in them. Between 1910 and 1930, groups including male and female peasants, urban workers, and the middle class joined together...

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Chapter Seven: Pulqueros, Cerveceros, and Mezcaleros: Small Alcohol Producers and Popular Resistance to Mexico’s Anti-Alcohol Campaigns, 1910–1940

Gretchen Pierce

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pp. 161-184

In May 1922, M. Luna y Menocal and José María Montaño, president and secretary, respectively, of the Sindicato de Trabajadores de la Industria Magueyera (Union of Maguey Industry Workers), wrote to President Álvaro Obregón, complaining about the Clausura Dominical, a mandatory...

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Chapter Eight: Tequila Sauza and the Redemption of Mexico’s Vital Fluids, 1873–1970

José Orozco

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pp. 185-209

Alberto Ruy-Sánchez Lacy wrote these words in 1994 for an issue of the magazine Artes de México dedicated to tequila. Neither Ruy-Sánchez nor the editors of Artes de México invented the discourse that linked tequila to Mexicanness. Rather, in using poems, essays, and photographs to portray...

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Chapter Nine: Essence and Identity: Transformations in Argentine Wine, 1880–2010

Steve Stein

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pp. 210-241

A driving force for the development of business strategies for wine industries worldwide has been the assessment and targeting of the consumer market. In the case of Argentina, consumers and their tastes have changed substantially over the history of the industry from its inception in the

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Chapter Ten: Of Chicha, Majas, and Mingas: Hard Apple Cider and Local Solidarity in Twenty-First-Century Rural Southern Chile

Anton Daughters

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pp. 242-260

Situated just above Patagonia, southern Chile’s Región de los Lagos (Lakes Region) is a wild stretch of territory marked by volcanoes, fjords, and cold-weather rainforests. Every summer, neighbors in rural sectors of this lacustrine region band together for a practice that has become a centerpiece of...


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pp. 261-266


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pp. 267-296


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pp. 297-300


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pp. 301-306

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599004
E-ISBN-10: 0816599009
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530762
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530769

Page Count: 316
Illustrations: 16 images, 1 map, 1 table
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 874965426
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Alcohol in Latin America

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Subject Headings

  • Alcoholism -- Social aspects -- Latin America -- History.
  • Alcoholic beverage industry -- Social aspects -- Latin America -- History.
  • Alcoholic beverages -- Social aspects -- Latin America -- History.
  • Drinking of alcoholic beverages -- Latin America -- History.
  • Temperance -- Latin America -- History.
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