Participant Info

First Name
Last Name
Hampshire College
Website URL
empire, sugar, food, agriculture, trade policy, environment, environmental policy, drug policy, capitalism, race and racism, immigration, environmental health, nutrition
Additional Contact Information

Personal Info

About Me

My research and teaching focuses on the 20th century United States in an international context, with particular interests in the Caribbean and Latin America. I know about histories of capitalism, race, and empire; critical food studies; environmental studies and transnational environmental justice movements; immigration and ethnicity; consumer cultures; rural history; and transnational and cultural research methods. I can speak knowledgeably about the history of sugar and candy.

My book, Sugar and Civilization: American Empire and the Cultural Politics of Sweetness, was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2015. The book tells the story of sugar–and sugar tariffs–from the Spanish American War through the New Deal of the 1930s, describing how workers and consumers in multiple locations came to eat huge quantities of sugar. The cultural logic connecting imperial, trade, and immigration policies was the same one that facilitated new habits of sugar consumption within the United States and its territories. I reevaluate our assumptions about the New Deal, and track the early history of the current sugar programs. Sugar and Civilization won the 2016 Myrna Bernath book prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

My current research is on the environmental and agrarian history of the global war on drugs from the 1920s through the 1990s. Exploring drug prohibition from this angle reveals new ways to think about the social and economic consequences of more than a century of public policy.

I am an Associate Professor of Historical & Environmental Studies at Hampshire College. Between 2019 and 2022 I taught environmental studies at Williams College. Before moving to Massachusetts, I taught at Florida International University in Miami, Florida, where I was an Associate Professor of history. I hold a B.A. in history from Reed College, a Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University, and an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from the Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy.

Recent Publications

“Equal Risks: Workplace Discrimination, Toxic Exposure, and the Environmental Politics of Reproductive Risk, 1976-1991,” Environmental History 26, no. 3 (July 2021): 484–507.

“Drugs, Empire, and U.S. Foreign Policy,” Companion to U.S. Foreign Policy, Colonial Era to the Present (Wiley-Blackwell, 2020).

“Forum: World War I and the Origins of the Modern Food System,” Global Food History 5, no. 3 (September 2019).

“Sugar, Surveillance, and Citizenship: The Global Crisis of 1919-1920 in Buenos Aires and New York,” Global Food History 2, no. 1 (Spring 2016).

Sugar and Civilization: American Empire and the Cultural Politics of Sweetness (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015). Winner of the 2016 Myrna F. Bernath Prize from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

“Sweetness, Power, and Forgotten Food Histories in America’s Empire,” Labor: Studies in Working Class History of the Americas 12, no. 1-2 (Spring 2015).

“The Political Culture of Sugar Tariffs: Immigration, Race, and Empire, 1898-1930,” International Labor and Working Class History Journal 81 (Spring 2012).

Media Coverage
The Compass, BBC, "Sugar Coated World", October 2021,;
Country Focus
United States
Expertise by Geography
North America, United States
Expertise by Chronology
Modern, 20th century
Expertise by Topic
Children & Youth, Colonialism, Diplomacy, Environment, Food History, Labor, Migration & Immigration, Pedagogy, Race, Rural & Agrarian History, Science, World War I