Thesis ID: CBB209904775

The Heart of Red: Cochineal in Colonial Mexico and India (2021)

unapi

This dissertation explores how a complex relationship between humans, plants and animals led to the production of one of the Iberian Empire’s most valued commodities in the colonial period: cochineal dye. My research involves the history of cochineal dye insects in Europe, Asia and Central America. Based on archival research conducted in English, Spanish and Latin this thesis examines attempts and methods of growing and treating cochineal dye insects from Oaxaca, Mexico to Madras, India. I use global comparisons between native peoples in these areas to study colonial commodities with a particular focus on knowledge systems. Indigenous peoples developed an intricate set of practices, highly dependent on local geography, to ensure the survival of the domesticated cochineal insect (Dactylopius coccus). I consider a complex set of technologies/craft practices employed by indigenous people to grow cochineal in the different micro-climates of the Oaxacan landscape in southern Mexico. Unlike their natural philosophical contemporaries in early modern Europe, native cochineal growers appear to have understood the insect’s generation in detail. This project explains how a domesticated insect with symbolic and religious content was turned into the second most lucrative commodity and industry in colonial Mexico after precious metals. It also examines how knowledge regarding the raising of cochineal insects stayed in hands of native cochineal growers for centuries and did not translate well into other systems. By combining methods in anthropology, history of science, technology studies and environmental history with close text and image analysis, my work re-situates the cochineal in the various worlds views of different historical, global actors from Mexico to India.

...More
Citation URI
data.isiscb.org/p/isis/citation/CBB209904775

This citation is part of the Isis database.

Similar Citations

Book Greenfield, Amy Butler; (2005)
A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (/p/isis/citation/CBB000741406/) unapi

Article William Eamon; (2018)
Corn, Cochineal, and Quina: The “Zilsel Thesis” in a Colonial Iberian Setting (/p/isis/citation/CBB085994099/) unapi

Book Anja Timmermann; (2014)
Indigo. Die Analyse eine ökonomischen Wissensbestandes im 18. Jahrhundert (/p/isis/citation/CBB633173780/) unapi

Book Alex Hidalgo; (2019)
Trail of Footprints: A History of Indigenous Maps from Viceregal Mexico (/p/isis/citation/CBB535233039/) unapi

Article Kumar, Prakash; (2007)
Plantation Science: Improving Natural Indigo in Colonial India, 1860--1913 (/p/isis/citation/CBB000830204/) unapi

Thesis Cagle, Hubert Glenn, III; (2011)
Dead Reckonings: Disease and the Natural Sciences in Portuguese Asia and the Atlantic, 1450--1650 (/p/isis/citation/CBB001567296/) unapi

Article Beverly Soloway; (2016)
“mus co shee”: Indigenous Plant Foods and Horticultural Imperialism in the Canadian Sub-Arctic (/p/isis/citation/CBB852354053/) unapi

Article Middleton, Karen; (2012)
Renarrating a Biological Invasion: Historical Memory, Local Communities and Ecologists (/p/isis/citation/CBB001231331/) unapi

Book Matthew James Crawford; Joseph M. Gabriel; (2019)
Drugs on the Page: Pharmacopoeias and Healing Knowledge in the Early Modern Atlantic World (/p/isis/citation/CBB528992656/) unapi

Chapter Few, Martha; (2013)
Killing Locusts in Colonial Guatemala (/p/isis/citation/CBB001422674/) unapi

Book Gabriela Méndez Cota; (2016)
Disrupting maize: Food, biotechnology, and nationalism in contemporary Mexico (/p/isis/citation/CBB012102028/) unapi

Article Carlos Viesca Treviño; Maríablanca Ramos de Viesca; (2018)
Mexican Medicinal Plants a Therapeutic Resource of Physicians and Traditional Healers (/p/isis/citation/CBB305763570/) unapi

Article Lopez-Beltran, Carlos; Deister, Garcia Vivette; (2013)
Aproximaciones científicas al mestizo mexicano (/p/isis/citation/CBB001420646/) unapi

Article Adi Estela Lazos Ruíz; Claudio Garibay Orozco; (2023)
The Great Chichimeca Landscape: Pre-Hispanic Natural Resources Use (/p/isis/citation/CBB618213679/) unapi

Chapter Tortorici, Zeb; Few, Martha; (2013)
Writing Animal Histories (/p/isis/citation/CBB001422672/) unapi

Book Asha Shukla Choubey; (2022)
Crafts and Craftsmen in Pre-Colonial Eastern India: Technology and Culture (/p/isis/citation/CBB317005179/) unapi

Thesis Kizhakke Nedumpally, Sunandan; (2012)
Ways of Knowing: Asaris, Nampoothiris and Colonialists in Twentieth Century Malabar, India (/p/isis/citation/CBB001561007/) unapi

Chapter Spear, Jeffrey L.; (2010)
A South Kensington Gateway from Gwalior to Nowhere (/p/isis/citation/CBB001201874/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Few, Martha
Crawford, Matthew James
Deister, Garcia Vivette
Eamon, William C.
Gabriel, Joseph M.
Greenfield, Amy Butler
Journals
Environment and History
British Journal for the History of Science
Canadian Bulletin of Medical History/Bulletin Canadienne d'Histoire de la Medecine
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
História, Ciências, Saúde---Manguinhos
History of Science
Publishers
Rutgers University
Franz Steiner Verlag
Harper Collins
Routledge
Rowman & Littlefield
University of Pittsburgh Press
Concepts
Colonialism
Indigenous peoples; indigeneity
Agriculture
Crafts and craftspeople
Natural history
Cross-cultural interaction; cultural influence
People
Zilsel, Edgar
Time Periods
Early modern
17th century
18th century
19th century
16th century
15th century
Places
India
Mexico
Great Britain
Europe
Africa
Brazil
Comments

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment