Yerba Mate as a Returnee’s Commodity. Transatlantic Trade and Consumption of Yerba Mate between Argentina and Lebanon (1920s–1950s)

Yerba mate, originally an indigenous drink from South America, has recently become popular around the world. As early as the 1930s, returning migrants, who emigrated from the Ottoman provinces of Mount Lebanon and Syria, brought yerba mate in large quantities from South America to the Levant. This PhD project analyzes the transatlantic trajectories of selected merchants and trace their yerba mate trade routes from Argentina to Lebanon, covering the French Mandate (1920–1946) and the early independence period (1946–1950s). The dissertation highlights the emigrants’ agency as they returned from South America, actively shaping Lebanon’s economy and consumption culture, while decentering the colonial metropole France. By using yerba mate in Lebanon as a case study, the project demonstrates how global trade relations in the early 20th century were still mainly shaped by personal networks, and contributes to better understand global (return) migration practices and the ‘glocalisation’ of commodities.

PhD Project

Project Supervision