Sunday, September 25, 2022

Edward F. Fischer's "Making Better Coffee"

Edward F. Fischer is Professor of Anthropology at Vanderbilt University, where he also directs the Institute for Coffee Studies. He has authored and edited several books, including The Good Life: Aspiration, Dignity, and the Anthropology of Wellbeing.

Fischer applied the Page 99 Test to his new book, Making Better Coffee: How Maya Farmers and Third Wave Tastemakers Create Value, reported the following:
Page 99 provides an example of the historical angle to my work on coffee, although it does not give much of a sense of the overall book. Cultural anthropology, my field of study, is all about context. In an hour-long talk, I would probably spend more than half the time providing the context for the specific topic at hand. Thus, we tend toward long-form writing, such as this book. In it, I connect the high-end coffee market in the U.S. to the lives and livelihoods of the folks who grow it in places like Guatemala. To understand the circumstances of Maya farmers, it is important to know the colonial and neo-colonial histories that have led up to this moment. On page 99, I look at the history of nineteenth century German coffee producers in Guatemala—a coffee oligarchy that depended on cheap, mostly coerced, labor from Maya communities. This page describes the perception that German immigrants to Guatemala were bringing with them modernity, industry, and progress—as well as their light skin and European culture. That German coffee oligarchy is still around, although today much of the country’s production comes from smallholding Maya producers, many of whom used to work as seasonal labor on the large plantations.
Learn more about the book and author at Ted Fischer's website.

The Page 99 Test: The Good Life.

--Marshal Zeringue