From Goods to Commodities in Spanish America: Structural Changes and Ecological Globalization From the Perspective of the European History of Consumption

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This chapter shows that the introduction of Eurasian and African products in Latin America should be understood as one more phase in a longer wave of globalization across Eurasia, which had one of its pillars in the so-called medieval Islamic green revolution, of which Iberia was a cross-roads. Contrary to the model of ecological imperialism established by Crosby, the idea is defended that American globalization also meant the rise of very dynamic and hybrid ecosystems that would produce a new equilibrium and economic growth. The result is a more nuanced and constructive conception of ecological imperialism, which implied, on the other hand, a qualitative leap in the history of humanity that made America the main stage and the laboratory for the long-run development of unsustainable forms of exploitation. The complex mechanisms of diffusion and rejection of those products are also studied to underline how violence is inseparable from commerce or persuasion, as well as to what extent they are linked to deep social structural changes. The outcome is a path to consumerism that differs from the models normally used to understand what happened in Europe and a proposal to understand the history of consumption as inextricably associated with ecological history.
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GECEM Project (ERC-Starting Grant), ref. 679371, under the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme,
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American Globalization, 1492-1850: Trans-Cultural Consumption in Spanish Latin America, pp. 284-301.
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