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An empire of goods? Groceries in eighteenth-century England

Stobart, J. (2013) An empire of goods? Groceries in eighteenth-century England. Paper presented to: Economic History Society Annual Conference, University of York, 05-07 April 2013. (Unpublished)

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Abstract: From the perspective of the consumer, the eighteenth century was a period of rapidly widening horizons as goods poured into Britain from an ever-expanding variety of places. This was particularly true of groceries, which lie at the heart of a set of macro-economic changes often characterised as a commercial revolution. Indeed, the connection between production and demand for tropical groceries, the growth of British and other European empires, and shifting patterns of global trade have become a familiar theme in both imperial and economic history. For the eighteenth century, there is broad consensus around the idea that British public interest in empire emerged during the Seven Years War and was strengthened during the American War of Independence and the wars with Revolutionary France. Building on this, Bickham has recently argued that food was a central part of the British imperial experience and that the imperial associations of colonial groceries were central to the meaning they held for consumers – they were available locally, but their primary affiliations were with empire. But how accurate is this picture? What was the importance of empire in shaping the consumption of groceries in eighteenth-century England? This paper draws on a variety of sources, including advertisements, inventories, stock lists and recipes to question the extent to which empire was a key point of reference for British consumers. Colonial goods were important, but formed part of a broader world of foods, both in terms of provenance and perception.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain > DA20 England
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD9000 Agricultural industries > HD9011.5 Food industry and trade
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions > HC94 By region or country > HC257 Great Britain > HC260.C6 Consumerism
Creators: Stobart, Jon
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > School of Social Sciences (to 2016)
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > History
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > History
Date: 7 April 2013
Date Type: Presentation
Event Title: Economic History Society Annual Conference
Event Dates: 05-07 April 2013
Event Location: University of York
Event Type: Conference
Language: English
Status: Unpublished
Refereed: No

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