This entry examines the origins of modern Western consumer culture in the consumption of Caribbean plantation commodities within a slavery-based transatlantic economy. It encompasses the sixteenth to twentieth centuries, but places the main emphasis on British consumer culture in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It seeks to redress the absence of the Caribbean in histories of European consumer culture, including aspects of the slave trade and the antislavery movement, and to show its relevance for contemporary debates around fair trade and ethical consumption.

Historiographical and Theoretical Context

Given that the early modern consumer cultures were all thoroughly grounded in the wealth produced by the African slave trade and Caribbean slave plantations, initial studies of early modern consumer culture are reticent in addressing slavery and the slave trade. ...

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