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From Chocolate to Peyote: Hendrix Professor Co-edits New Book on the Desire for Ingestible Commodities

SubstanceSeductionCoverCONWAY, Ark. (November 8, 2017) – Dr. Stacey Schwartzkopf, the Charles S. and Lucile Esmon Shively Odyssey Associate Professor of Anthropology at Hendrix College, has co-edited a book due for release in November. 

Substance & Seduction: Ingested Commodities in Early Modern Mesoamerica (University of Texas Press), co-edited by Schwartzkopf and Kathryn E. Sampeck, explores how social, economic, cultural, and political forces influenced the desire for certain ingestibles in the early modern period. The book’s eventual contributors came together at the 2014 meeting of the American Society of Ethnohistory, with presentations from their own academic perspectives—history, cultural anthropology, historical archaeology—that reflected upon the significance of a variety of substances, including alcohol, chocolate, sugar, tobacco, and hallucinogens. 

“Everyone who came to that session wound up contributing,” said Schwarzkopf, who contributed a chapter on fermented and distilled drinks in colonial Maya Guatemala. “We discovered we had a good mix of interdisciplinary folks who could achieve that broader focus in a regional context. Very rarely have these substances all been considered together in this part of the world.”

“It was exciting to work with such an excellent group of scholars, but the best part was editing with Stacey,” said Sampeck, who is an associate professor of anthropology at Illinois State University. “He made even the tedious tasks enjoyable.”

Through his Odyssey professorship, Schwartzkopf has focused on material culture, and on fostering an environment that encourages students to pursue interdisciplinary scholarship. In addition to incorporating material culture into many classes, next year he will be teaching a course also titled Substance and Seduction, further connecting his research to the classroom.

“In learning how things are consumed and appreciated, students begin to see how studying material culture can be a way to make sense of the world,” he said.

Sampeck, a historical archaeologist whose work has a focus on the study of cacao, co-contributed a chapter on chocolate.

“People often eat, drink, and smoke at the same time, yet those substances followed different paths to get to that moment of ingestion. I think the volume shows the importance of considering all of these substances together,” she said. “The sum is much greater than the individual parts.”

Since distribution of preview copies began in October, Schwartzkopf and Sampeck already have heard from one professor interested in adopting the book as a text for an upcoming course.

Substance & Seduction is available through the University of Texas Press, Amazon, and other retail outlets. Other contributors include Martin Nesvig, Jonathan Thayn, Joel W. Palka, Joan Bristol, and Guido Pezzarossi, with the foreword by Marcy Norton and the afterword by Carla D. Martin.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit