Raising Cane in the 'GladesThe Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida

Raising Cane in the 'GladesThe Global Sugar Trade and the Transformation of Florida

Gail M. Hollander

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226349503

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Over the last century, the Everglades have undergone a metaphorical and ecological transition from impenetrable swamp to endangered wetland. At the heart of this transformation lies the Florida sugar industry, which by the 1990s was at the center of the political storm over the multi-billion dollar ecological “restoration” of the Everglades. This book situates the environmental transformation of the Everglades within the economic and historical geography of global sugar production and trade. Using, among other sources, interviews, government and corporate documents, and recently declassified U.S. State Department memoranda, the author demonstrates that the development of Florida's sugar region was the outcome of pitched battles reaching the highest political offices in the United States and in countries around the world, especially Cuba—which emerges in her narrative as a model, a competitor, and the regional “other” to Florida's “self.” Spanning the period from the age of empire to the era of globalization, the book shows how the “sugar question”—a label nineteenth-century economists coined for intense international debates on sugar production and trade—emerges repeatedly in new guises. The author uses the sugar question as a thread to stitch together past and present, local and global, in explaining Everglades transformation.