Anthropology 24, Section 1

Chocolate: History, Culture, and Science (1 unit, LG)

Professor Rosemary Joyce
Wednesday 12:00-1:00, 221 Kroeber Hall, Class number: 41122

Chocolate is an everyday part of life in the US today. Displays of chocolates next to cash registers give a sense of its global scope, with varieties boasting of coming from Belize, Venezuela, Indonesia, and Ghana. Meanwhile, fine chocolates are associated with Belgium, France, and San Francisco. What is less obvious to the chocolate consumer is the world of chocolate research that ranges from studies of DNA and medical potential to identifications of the oldest traces of the parent plant, cacao, and its use for a wide range of foods, drinks, and medicinal preparations. In this seminar, we will delve into the world of chocolate research, finding out what commonly held ideas are being debunked, and asking questions as yet unanswered about the culture, history, and science of chocolate.

Instructor Bio

I am an anthropologist who conducts research in archives, museums, and through field archaeology in Honduras, on sites ranging in age from the earliest known villages (occupied by 1600 BC) to colonial forts and towns from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. My publications deal with people's identities as men and women, and as members of different racialized groups, and how those identities influence their power and status. I am a specialist in ancient pottery, which has led me to research on foodways, including the detection of traces of chocolate in pots dating before 1100 BC. This is an aspect of my interest in everyday lives and their complexity, including feasting, ceremonies around birth and death, and artistic craft production.

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This course would be ideal for any student interested in historical approaches to understanding everyday life, but especially those who want to learn how researchers working in multiple disciplines can build up understanding of the distant past.