Sidney Mintz has studied Caribbean rural life, social history, and the Afro-Caribbean tradition from the time of his first fieldwork in Puerto Rico (1948), through his presentation of the W.E.B. Du Bois Lectures at Harvard (2003). He has attempted throughout to wed the anthropological concept of culture to historical materialist scholarship.
Mintz has published several books and many articles and reviews. In 1956, his study of a sugarcane village became part of The People of Puerto Rico, edited by Julian Steward and others. In 1960, he published Worker in the Cane, the life story of a cane worker who came from that same village. And in 1985, he wrote Sweetness and Power, which is concerned with the history of sugar worldwide. He has since written papers on the anthropology of food, and initiated research on the global role of soybeans and soy foods, while continuing his Caribbean work.
Mintz’s most recent books are Three Ancient Colonies: Caribbean Themes and Variations (2010), just published, and The World of Soy (2008), which he helped to edit.
Mintz came to Johns Hopkins in 1975, and helped to establish the Department of Anthropology here. For the preceding 24 years he had been on the faculty at Yale University. Mintz has been a visiting professor at MIT, Princeton, Berkeley, the Collège de France, and in Germany, New Zealand, Australia, and Hong Kong. He continues to lecture and teach widely.