Proposal preview

“The Colors of Early Globalization: American Dyes and the International Economy, 16th-19h centuries”

The comparative history of the international trade in American natural dyes during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries is an important but relatively neglected chapter in the history of dyes, as well as of international commerce and the history of textile industries around the globe, particularly during the 16th to 19th centuries.. The focus in this session is on the analysis of the natural properties of the principal dyes, the conditions of their local production, and their role in international trade as a key input of textile industries in the ancien regime in three continents. The principal dyes we will look at are- Indigo (añil), Brazilwood (Pau do Brasil), Palo de tinte (Logwood), and Cochineal, but we will also comment on other relevant dyes. We propose this session to bring together experts from different countries who can establish a dialogue on intersecting strands of this subject on the basis of their extensive research.

Organizer(s)

  • Carlos Marichal El Colegio de México cmarichals@gmail.com Mexico

Session members

  • Ai Hisano, Kyoto University
  • Adrianna Catena, University of Warwick
  • Carlos Marichal, El Colegio de México
  • Jeremy Baskes, Ohio Wesleyan University
  • Jobson Arruda, Universidad de São Paulo
  • Luis Alberto Arrioja, El Colegio de Michoacán
  • Carlos Sánchez, Universidad Autónoma Benito Juárez de Oaxaca
  • Rafael Ledezma , El Colegio de México

Discussant(s)

  • Bartolome Yun Pablo de Olavide University bartolome.yun.casalilla@eui.eu

Papers

Panel abstract

The comparative history of the international trade in American natural dyes during the sixteenth to the eighteenth centuries is an important but relatively neglected chapter in the history of dyes, as well as of international commerce and the history of textile industries around the globe, particularly during the 16th to 19th centuries. The focus in this session is on the analysis of the natural properties of the principal dyes, the conditions of their local production, and their role in international trade as a key input of textile industries in the ancien regime in three continents. The principal dyes we will look at are- Indigo (añil), Brazilwood (Pau do Brasil), Palo de tinte (Logwood), and Cochineal, but we will also comment on other relevant dyes. We propose this session to bring together experts from different countries who can establish a dialogue on intersecting strands of this subject

1st half

American Natural Dyes and the European Trade Connections. 16th-18th centuries

Carlos Marichal

In economic history of Latin America, there is a marked scarcity of studies on the production and trade in these natural dyes from the Americas between the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These dyes were among earliest exports from Spanish American and Brazil – and were surpassed in in value only by silver and gold in the sixteenth century. Subsequently, they continued to be exported and connected with European textile manufactures in the ancien regime. Among the natural dyes, Pau Brasil (Brazilwood) was the first important export from Brazil; Cochineal was the second most important export of Mexico from the mid-16th century to mid-19th century. Palo de Campeche (logwood) was the leading export from the coasts of Central America and of the Colombian coast during important periods of the colonial era. Indigo- añil- was the most important export of Guatemala and El Salvador in the 18th century and continued to...

In economic history of Latin America, there is a marked scarcity of studies on the production and trade in these natural dyes from the Americas between the sixteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These dyes were among earliest exports from Spanish American and Brazil – and were surpassed in in value only by silver and gold in the sixteenth century. Subsequently, they continued to be exported and connected with European textile manufactures in the ancien regime. Among the natural dyes, Pau Brasil (Brazilwood) was the first important export from Brazil; Cochineal was the second most important export of Mexico from the mid-16th century to mid-19th century. Palo de Campeche (logwood) was the leading export from the coasts of Central America and of the Colombian coast during important periods of the colonial era. Indigo- añil- was the most important export of Guatemala and El Salvador in the 18th century and continued to be important in the early 19th century. This paper emphasizes the need for more studies on the complex integration of different primary goods from the Americas which were essential to production of textile manufactures in Europe, and hence also underlines the need to explain its importance for the history of consumption.

Cochineal & Cross-Cultural Credit Spanish. Lenders & Native Borrowers in Eighteenth Century Oaxaca

Jeremy Baskes

This paper examines the 18th century production of cochineal dye in Oaxaca, Mexico. Production of cochineal, Mexico’s second export commodity by value, was carried out almost exclusively by indigenous peasants on their private land plots. Its extensive production and marketing, however, required external financing and management, both of which were orchestrated by Spanish colonialists through a practice called the repartimiento, which historians have universally described as a forced system of production and consumption. This paper challenges this view and argues that indigenous Oaxacans produced cochineal for the market voluntarily because it provided them needed income and credit without which they could not participate extensively in the market. Few merchants, however, were willing to extend credit to peasants because collecting debts was too difficult. Consequently, credit provision was monopolized by Alcaldes Mayores, who as agents of the Crown possessed the legal leverage needed to enforce debts. Possessing sufficient authority and power...

This paper examines the 18th century production of cochineal dye in Oaxaca, Mexico. Production of cochineal, Mexico’s second export commodity by value, was carried out almost exclusively by indigenous peasants on their private land plots. Its extensive production and marketing, however, required external financing and management, both of which were orchestrated by Spanish colonialists through a practice called the repartimiento, which historians have universally described as a forced system of production and consumption. This paper challenges this view and argues that indigenous Oaxacans produced cochineal for the market voluntarily because it provided them needed income and credit without which they could not participate extensively in the market. Few merchants, however, were willing to extend credit to peasants because collecting debts was too difficult. Consequently, credit provision was monopolized by Alcaldes Mayores, who as agents of the Crown possessed the legal leverage needed to enforce debts. Possessing sufficient authority and power to collect debts willingly contracted, even employing targeted violence, Spanish officials lacked the state backing that would have been necessary to force hundreds of peasants into the market against their wills, as traditional depictions of the repartimiento imply.

Natural Colors and the Palette of Domesticity in the Nineteenth-Century United States

Ai Hisano

This paper explores the economic and cultural impact of global natural-dye trade on American households in the nineteenth century. As the import of natural dyes, including cochineal and annatto, from Central and South America increased in the United States, these dyes became important ingredients not only for commercial food manufacturers but also for housewives. The expansion of global natural-dye trades coincided with the increasing popularity of visually-appealing, so-called “dainty” dishes, which were often associated with women’s social, economic, and gender dispositions. Domestic scientists and food advertisers promoted to female consumers the creation of ornamental foods as the representation of white middle- and upper-class femininity and women’s aesthetic taste. By analyzing the global trade and household consumption of natural colors, this paper shows the transformation of visuality in the American household and the increasing connection between gender politics and the commercialization of domestic work.

This paper explores the economic and cultural impact of global natural-dye trade on American households in the nineteenth century. As the import of natural dyes, including cochineal and annatto, from Central and South America increased in the United States, these dyes became important ingredients not only for commercial food manufacturers but also for housewives. The expansion of global natural-dye trades coincided with the increasing popularity of visually-appealing, so-called “dainty” dishes, which were often associated with women’s social, economic, and gender dispositions. Domestic scientists and food advertisers promoted to female consumers the creation of ornamental foods as the representation of white middle- and upper-class femininity and women’s aesthetic taste. By analyzing the global trade and household consumption of natural colors, this paper shows the transformation of visuality in the American household and the increasing connection between gender politics and the commercialization of domestic work.

New World Blues and the European Dyeing Sector. Reception, Accommodation, and Conflict

Adrianna Catena

The first commercial shipments of New World indigo and logwood reached Spain almost simultaneously, in the early 1560s. They were introduced, from the start, as potential substitutes for woad – the main source of blue for European textiles. Yet an initial boom in consumption also inflamed the fears of woad merchants and producers across the Continent. In 1577, the German Diet at Frankfurt banned the use of indigo; England followed suit in 1581 (including a ban on logwood), and France in 1609, with a harsher penalty of death for offenders. This story is well known; the same cannot be said for the introduction of indigo or logwood to the textile industries of Spain and its European territories. Although no powerful economic interests arrested their introduction here, other, often more localized factors, shaped (and complicated) their accommodation and diffusion. Focusing on the great textile centres of early modern Castile, this paper...

The first commercial shipments of New World indigo and logwood reached Spain almost simultaneously, in the early 1560s. They were introduced, from the start, as potential substitutes for woad – the main source of blue for European textiles. Yet an initial boom in consumption also inflamed the fears of woad merchants and producers across the Continent. In 1577, the German Diet at Frankfurt banned the use of indigo; England followed suit in 1581 (including a ban on logwood), and France in 1609, with a harsher penalty of death for offenders. This story is well known; the same cannot be said for the introduction of indigo or logwood to the textile industries of Spain and its European territories. Although no powerful economic interests arrested their introduction here, other, often more localized factors, shaped (and complicated) their accommodation and diffusion. Focusing on the great textile centres of early modern Castile, this paper considers the wide-ranging impact of the introduction of these New World dyes – their effect on artisanal practices, the complexities of reception, integration, and broader social consequences (especially arising conflicts), within the sector.

2nd half

Growth and Ruin of an Animal Dye. Cochineal in Mexico, Guatemala and Canarian islands, 1797-1857

Luis Alberto Arrioja Díaz Viruell, Carlos Sánchez Silva

Throughout this paper, I´ll explain three problems about the production and trade of cochineal dye in Mexico and Guatemala during the first half of the nineteenth century. First, the causes that explain the migration and acclimatization of this animal plague from Oaxaca to the Guatemalan highlands in 19th century. Second, the role played by economic, social and climatic structures for the crisis of the dye in Mexico and the growth in Guatemala and Central America. Third, the positions taken by the national governments - from Mexico and Guatemala - regarding the production and trade of animal dye. In addition, the productive systems and commercial networks that turned these regions into the main producing areas of scarlet dye in the world are analyzed. For this, we consulted documentary evidence of historical archives of Mexico, Central America and the Canary Islands

Throughout this paper, I´ll explain three problems about the production and trade of cochineal dye in Mexico and Guatemala during the first half of the nineteenth century. First, the causes that explain the migration and acclimatization of this animal plague from Oaxaca to the Guatemalan highlands in 19th century. Second, the role played by economic, social and climatic structures for the crisis of the dye in Mexico and the growth in Guatemala and Central America. Third, the positions taken by the national governments - from Mexico and Guatemala - regarding the production and trade of animal dye. In addition, the productive systems and commercial networks that turned these regions into the main producing areas of scarlet dye in the world are analyzed. For this, we consulted documentary evidence of historical archives of Mexico, Central America and the Canary Islands

A Place in the Sun. Brazilwood and the Brazilian Economy, 1500-1875

José Jobson Arruda

The setting for this chapter of Portuguese colonial history in America is the rainforest. Its main characters are the Brazilian Indians and the leafy brazilwood trees. The paper follows the trajectory of the process of colonization that the European peoples imposed on the lands and populations of South America. The short-term outcome was the transfer of resources to the dominant centers and the residual endogenous accumulation; long-term development and underdevelopment. This paper shows that Brazilwood has a place of honor in Brazilian history. It was responsible for the first export boom of the colonial economy and, for a long time, preserved its value. It laid some of the structural foundations on which the future sugar economy would stand.The paper covers the Brazil trade from the sixteenth century to the mid nineteenth century, providing the principal quantitative estimates and trends.

The setting for this chapter of Portuguese colonial history in America is the rainforest. Its main characters are the Brazilian Indians and the leafy brazilwood trees. The paper follows the trajectory of the process of colonization that the European peoples imposed on the lands and populations of South America. The short-term outcome was the transfer of resources to the dominant centers and the residual endogenous accumulation; long-term development and underdevelopment. This paper shows that Brazilwood has a place of honor in Brazilian history. It was responsible for the first export boom of the colonial economy and, for a long time, preserved its value. It laid some of the structural foundations on which the future sugar economy would stand.The paper covers the Brazil trade from the sixteenth century to the mid nineteenth century, providing the principal quantitative estimates and trends.

The Decline of Natural Dye Exports in the Central American Republics after Independence, 19th Century

Rafael Ángel Ledezma Díaz

During the 19th century, the countries of Central America exported different agricultural, forestry and mineral products to the United States and England (coffee, natural dyes, sarsaparilla, cattle, wood (mahogany), rubber). Exports of natural dyes decreased throughout this century. Other activities, such as coffee exports, increase considerably in countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. This paper shows how and why the exports of natural dyes decreased after independence in the region, and if that decline was related to the coffee boom, providing the principal quantitative estimates and trends. To reconstruct the historical statistics, the trade and navigation reports of the United States and Great Britain were consulted.

During the 19th century, the countries of Central America exported different agricultural, forestry and mineral products to the United States and England (coffee, natural dyes, sarsaparilla, cattle, wood (mahogany), rubber). Exports of natural dyes decreased throughout this century. Other activities, such as coffee exports, increase considerably in countries such as Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. This paper shows how and why the exports of natural dyes decreased after independence in the region, and if that decline was related to the coffee boom, providing the principal quantitative estimates and trends. To reconstruct the historical statistics, the trade and navigation reports of the United States and Great Britain were consulted.