AAA Annual Meeting Program

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Paper Information:
Type: Paper
Paper Title: CODFISH, CONSUMPTION AND COLONIZATION: THE CREATION OF THE FRENCH ATLANTIC WORLD DURING THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY
Author: LAURIER TURGEON   
Date/Time: Fri., 10:15 AM
Co-Author(s): LAURIER TURGEON 
Abstract: Historians and historical archaeologists of the Atlantic World have been primarily concerned with identifying shipping routes, measuring the evolution and volume of trades, and determining their impact on European economies, the formation of a merchant class, and the development of capitalism. There has also been interest in the production of colonial products and their distribution. However, very little work has been done on their consumption. Because consumption comes at the end of the distribution chain, it is generally taken for granted and considered as allant de soi, whereas it is in fact the initial stage of economic activity. Consumer desires determines the demand for goods traded, and their value, market, and sometimes even method of manufacture. In this paper, I examine the consumption of codfish in sixteenth-century France as a form of representation and “proto-colonization” of the New World. Codfish was the first New World product consumed massively in France by both Catholics and Protestants, and contrary to common belief, high grade codfish cost more than most other salt fish and fresh meats. Drawing on a wide range of sources including notarial records, provisioning contracts, account books, and cookbooks, I examine how Newfoundland cod penetrated the French interior from coastal ports. My argument is that codfish consumption, which was not part of a pre-existing culinary tradition, was the means whereby the French symbolically appropriated the “New-Found-Lands”, made the territory ripe for a permanent colony in Canada in the early seventeenth century, and contributed to the development of a national market and identity.

Program Number: 3-0220
Session Title: HOT TRADE: FRONTIERS AND FRICTION IN PAST ECONOMIES
Session Sponsor: Archaeology Division
Session Date/Time: Fri., 8:00 AM-11:45 AM
Organizer(s): KATHRYN FRANKLIN (University of Chicago) 
Chair(s): SHANNON DAWDY (University of Chicago)  
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