Feeding the City
From Street Market to Liberal Reform in Salvador, Brazil, 1780–1860
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: University of Texas Press
List of Tables
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List of Maps and Illustrations
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A Note on Currency, Measures, and Spelling
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Little did I think when I received a summer’s grant for curriculum development from Global Education Associates’ World Order Program that it would eventually lead to a book. The idea was to prepare an undergraduate course that would draw attention to the troubling issues facing the modern world regarding food and its inequitable distribution. As a historian...
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No city feeds itself. Unlike a village or small town, a city depends on a vast array of outsiders to grow or raise food, and most essentially, on people to transport it, and on middlemen and women to buy and resell it to consumers. Salvador, Brazil—often called Ba-hia—was a major city in the Americas at the end of the eighteenth ...
Chapter One: The City on a Bay
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On the eastern coast of Brazil and facing westward across a magnificent bay lies the city of Salvador or, to give it its full name, São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos (Holy Savior of the Bay of All Saints). The city’s name eloquently recalls the bay as it is its most defining feature. Its shimmering waters...
Part I: Getting and Selling Food
Chapter Two: From Streets and Doorways
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Ana de S�o Jos� da Trindade took out a license in 1807 for herself and three of her slaves to sell foodstuffs door-to-door in Salvador or to set up a stall at a corner or square. She died in 1823, and when her will was opened, readers discovered many things that may not have surprised them, but surprise us. That she...
Chapter Three: Connections
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As street vendors and store owners constructed a citywide community, horizontal ties criss-crossed vertical ones, multiplying their contacts with a broad segment of the population. Business itself meant constructing networks, but those engaged in the food trade were not merely economic creatures. They had a variety of ties to others, pointing...
Chapter Four: "People of the Sea"
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Salvador’s port formed the hub of the food trade, with some spokes radiating into the city, and others linking it to points of supply in the hinterland. Sailors, captains, and boat owners connected farmers to the city’s grocers and street vendors, making Salvador’s inhabitants utterly dependent on them. The bay served as a path for cultural interchange because people...
Chapter Five: The Grains Market
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Sailors, captains, and boat owners met stevedores and porters, petty traders and large merchants at Salvador’s bay-side grains market (see Map 1.3). Unlike the street vendors who had to jostle each other to purchase the vegetables, fruits, fish, and chickens arriving on boats at every beach and quay, men and women at the publicly administered grains market bent to specific...
Chapter Six: The Cattle and Meat Trade
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Beef was the major source of animal protein for residents of Salvador. Not that they shunned pork, fish, whale meat, chicken, or eggs, but they hoped to eat red meat daily. The city consumed 350 to 600 head of cattle per week in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Although this number is moderate on a per capita basis, the symbolic importance...
Chapter Seven: Contention
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The work of supplying meat to Salvador reveals some of the cross-hatched tensions that permeated this society, as well as the way social distinctions could blur and alliances form. By and large, cattle merchants, butchers, and those who transported beef within the city shared a roughly equivalent social position. Some middlemen...
Part II: Changed Rules: Reform and Resistance
Chapter Eight: "The True Enemy Is Hunger": The Siege of Salvador
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For more than twelve months in 1822– 1823, those struggling to free Brazil from Portuguese control laid siege to Salvador, where a Portuguese army was ensconced. The effort to cut off Salvador’s supply of food finally succeeded, and the Portuguese army, along with many merchants, set sail for Europe. Before examining the alternatives that local people faced, and the crucial political role they played in the high drama of bringing about...
Chapter Nine: A Tremor in the Social Order
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The Independence War in Bahia sent shocks along the fault lines of Salvador’s society, causing undeniable upheaval. Had it continued for years, the result might well have been a radically reshaped social order, but it lasted long enough for underlying tensions to surface. No one could fail to notice the precarious position of those at the top. Authority no longer...
Chapter Ten: Meat, Manioc, and Adam Smith
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Beyond the day-to-day behavior of those engaged in the food trade, and beyond the devastating and specific impact on them of a many-months-long war, there are questions about the government’s role in regulating the economy, about ideology, and about notions of justice and equity that directly affected those traders and the wider consuming public. As merchants and political leaders argued about rules for supplying essential provisions...
Chapter Eleven: "The People Do Not Live by Theories"
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Putting economic liberalism into practice after independence proved more difficult than the theoreticians could have imagined. As Salvador authorities dealt with the trade in foodstuffs from the 1820s to the 1860s, they veered back and forth from laissez faire policies to those on behalf of protecting consumers, changing direction more than once. Food traders...
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It’s easy to say Salvador’s was a society of orders, but what does that mean in terms of people’s experience? What are the exceptions— in this case multitudinous—that stretch and bend the categories that are meant to contain them? Wealth and inherited status certainly played a large role in building an invisible tracery to keep people in place. Yet the vertical ordering of society was confounded by interpersonal contacts, status reversals...
Appendix A. Purchasing Power over Time in Salvador
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Appendix B. Volume of Foodstuff Handled at the Grains Market, 1785-1849
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Credits for Maps and Illustrations
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Page Count: 352
Illustrations: 10 b&w photos, 5 maps, 9 tables
Publication Year: 2010
Series Title: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture