Although cotton and slave trading dominate our conceptions of the nineteenth century South, the history of economic and cultural development in the rich agricultural lands of the Lower Mississippi Valley was written by more than its merchants, planters, and slaveholders alone. It was also authored by individuals seldom credited as the builders of empire, like black and Native vendors who sold fish or fruit in the market stalls and streets of New Orleans, penniless young men from Kentucky who accompanied barrels of flour down the Mississippi River, and black cattlemen who drove their stock to market through the soggy prairies of Southwestern Louisiana. Regardless of race or social elevation, all who sought to live and thrive in the North American interior between 1760 and 1850 were dependent upon a multi-tiered system of food exchange to which the upper classes of the Old South contributed very little.
If perhaps less romantic than the notion of Southern gentlemen turning cotton into gold, basic needs like meat, grain, and vegetables served as the nutritive baseline for “progress” of any kind in the continent’s interior, and factored heavily in the cultural and aesthetic development of rural outposts and cosmopolitan New Orleans alike. Through information about food’s influence culled from historical documents and archaeological digs throughout the Lower Mississippi Valley, my project finds meaning in the daily meal and offers new perspectives on both economic and cultural power at the margins of empire.
This event is part of the 2016-17 Fellowship Brown-Bag Series,
which features informal talks by the Center for the Humanities and the
Public Sphere’s Rothman Faculty Summer Fellows, Tedder Doctoral
Fellows, and Rothman Doctoral Fellows. Fellows will speak for 20-30
minutes in length about their funded work, leaving ample time for
questions and discussion.
For more information on this event, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Center for the Humanities
and the Public Sphere
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
200 Walker Hall
P.O. Box 118030
University of Florida
Gainesville, FL 32611