CSSH Article on Yerba Mate

"Stimulating Consumption: Yerba Mate Myths, Markets, and Meanings from Conquest to Present" is now in print and available online as part of Comparative Studies in Society and History's newest issue. Below is the editorial forward. I'm incredibly grateful for the support from editor Andrew Shyrock and managing editor David Akin in this process.

Christine Folch explores the market history of yerba mate, a caffeinated drink akin to coffee and tea. Long popular in the southern countries of Latin America, yerba mate is largely unknown in other parts of the world. As a global commodity, its largest external market is in Syria and Lebanon, where it is drunk by Druze and other Levantine populations with ties to Arab immigrant communities in South America. Folch traces the movement of yerba mate from its origins as a commodity monopolized by the Spanish Crown and cultivated on Jesuit-owned plantations, to its current status as a novelty drink sold in North American organic and natural food stores, where it is marketed as an exotic, healthier alternative to coffee and tea. Diverse factors have prevented (and now aid) the global spread of yerba mate. The character of the tree itself, which could not be easily transplanted, the aesthetics of yerba mate consumption, which uses a communally shared filter/straw, and explicit anti-yerba campaigns run by coffee and tea merchants backed by colonial interests at odds with Spain, confined yerba mate to South American markets. Its reputation as a local beverage associated with Amerindian cultures and the Southern Cone is now the basis, Folch argues, for yerba mate's success as a global commodity that is defined, almost everywhere, by its strong associations with regional identities, distinct ethnonational communities, and medicinal and psychotropic alternatives to the worldwide hegemony of coffee and tea.


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One Response to CSSH Article on Yerba Mate

Julie said...

CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I enjoyed the article very much.

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