Public Lecture: ‘Taking it like candy’: Medicinal Chocolate and the Society of Jesus

KNIR Research Dialogues (KRD)
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Image 2 Krd Danielle Terrazas Williams
By the seventeenth-century, chocolate – most widely consumed in beverage form – was the drink de jour for many and its curative powers were being heralded by doctors and laymen alike in treatises and chronicles. My paper, “Taking it like candy,” examines the proliferation of the medicinal use of chocolate and how it provoked great anxiety for the Society of Jesus. While it was largely viewed as a common place treat in its country of origin, Fathers General in Rome warned Jesuits in Mexico to avoid the drink even if it offered relief to various aches and pains. While early modern doctors in Europe began to exhort the healing properties of chocolate, Jesuit leadership remained suspicious and feared that members of the order would consume it carelessly. This paper delves into the debates on chocolate’s efficacy and how the Society of Jesus attempted to intervene in these epistemological dialogues.



Image Krd Danielle Terrazas Williams

About the speaker
Danielle Terrazas Williams is Associate Professor in the School of History at the University of Leeds. Her research has appeared in The Americas, Journal of Women’s History, and History of Religions. She has held fellowships at Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame. Her first book, The Capital of Free Women: Race, Legitimacy, and Liberty in Colonial Mexico, published by Yale University Press, challenges traditional narratives of racial hierarchies and gendered mobility. Danielle’s current book project analyzes the strategies employed by Jesuits as they began to engage with free and enslaved African people in colonial Mexico.