The Sugar Question in Frontier Florida

in Raising Cane in the 'Glades

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2008 | ISBN: 9780226349503
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226349480 | DOI:
The Sugar Question in Frontier Florida

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This chapter focuses on the half-century preceding World War I, when the international political economy of sugar production and trade captured the world's attention. During this time, published debates, international conferences on the “sugar question,” and attempts by national governments to forge international sugar agreements proliferated. The development of the European beet-sugar industry and accompanying global surpluses posed a challenge to promoters of U.S. agricultural interests, who saw in domestic sugar production a regional development strategy. Florida boosters, especially, saw in the modernizing Cuban industry both an exemplary model and a formidable competitor. The chapter shows how changing ideas of sugar, of Florida, and of the U.S. role in the Caribbean shaped the context in which southern agricultural boosters promoted the establishment of a sugar industry. In so doing they articulated an “imagined economic geography,” a necessary but insufficient precursor to the development of a regional cane belt. These “imagined economic geographies” were quite detailed, including land measurements and speculation on potential labor sources, profits, and economic multipliers.

Keywords: sugar production; international political economy; sugar industry; Florida; Cuba; Caribbean; agricultural boosters; economic geography

Chapter.  17255 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental History

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