The objective of this paper is to explore the connection between Dominican and Cuban tobacco history. The title, ‘Reinventing mecca’, refers to the period after the 1959 Cuban Revolution, when US and émigré Cuban tobacco interests combined to project the Dominican Republic as the home of quality tobacco, including famous Havana cigar brands. The US quest for alternative leaf tobacco sources after the 1960 US embargo on trade with Cuba, coupled with the exodus of Cuban tobacco families produced a dramatic post-1959 shift in Dominican tobacco history.
Showcasing original research in the field, the Working papers are an initiative of the Commodities of Empire project and have their origins in papers presented at the workshops organised under its auspices since 2007. We welcome suggestions for new papers.
Reinventing Mecca: Tobacco in the Dominican Republic, 1763-2007
Sub-imperial globalisation and the phoenix of empire: sugar, engineering and commerce in nineteenth-century Cuba
This paper analyses the case of the importation of foreign steam technology into Cuba in the course of the nineteenth century, and the experience of the migrant workers employed to operate it, in order to focus not on Cuba as an isolatable entity, but existing in the context of transnational networks that were involving the island in processes of globalisation. Rather than seeing these processes as the consequence of imperial designs, this was, at the outset, a ‘sub-imperial’ globalisation, operating independently, and implying liberation, from empire.
Chasing commodities over the surface of the globe
Glasgow and Bombay emerged almost simultaneously as modern ports in the second half of the nineteenth century. This paper argues that this synchronicity was not accidental but similarly driven by one of the most important artefacts of the industrial age, the Glasgow-built steamship, and more particularly by the wide range of commercial and political interests that coalesced around it.