Promoting Potatoes in Peru and Other Tales of the Hispanic Enlightenment

Professor Rebecca Earle

Tuesday 14 March 2017, 6.15PM

Speaker(s): Professor Rebecca Earle, Warwick University

The York Centre for the Americas is happy to announce this year’s Visiting Lecture, by Professor Rebecca Earle of Warwick University. 

The potato, insisted 18th-century Spanish savants, was a 'precious fruit', a panacea against poverty and dearth, a source of state strength and security.  Enormous effort was therefore invested in promoting its consumption in Europe, as part of larger campaigns to improve national health and productivity.  Comparable enlightened campaigns were launched in Europe’s American colonies.  Via the geographically-mobile new world potato, this paper contrasts colonial and metropolitan visions of health, nutrition and science to help rethink the Americas’ place in the global Enlightenment.

Rebecca Earle is professor of History at the University of Warwick. She has worked extensively on questions of culture and identity formation in colonial and post-independence Spanish America and has published widely in this field. Rebecca's widely acclaimed monograph, The Return of the Native (2007), offered a hemispheric interpretation of elite nationalism in post-colonial Spanish America, based on both written texts and also visual and material culture, while her more recent book, The Body of the Conquistador explores the centrality of food, and eating, in the construction of colonial space across the Spanish Indies. Rebecca is currently working on a new, interdisciplinary project which examines the impact of new world foods (potatoes, chocolate, maize) on early modern European mentalities and political culture.

The event is made possible by generous support from the Centre for Modern Studies (CMODS) as well as from the University’s Distinguished Visitors’ Fund.

Location: Spring Lane Auditorium (SLB/118)

Admission: Free and open to the public