Banana Wars: Power, Production, and History in the Americas

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Over the past century, the banana industry has radically transformed Latin America and the Caribbean and become a major site of United States–Latin American interaction. Banana Wars is a history of the Americas told through the cultural, political, economic, and agricultural processes that brought bananas from the forests of Latin America and the Caribbean to the breakfast tables of the United States and Europe. The first book to examine these processes in all the western hemisphere regions where bananas are grown for sale abroad, Banana Wars advances the growing body of scholarship focusing on export commodities from historical and social scientific perspectives.

Bringing together the work of anthropologists, sociologists, economists, historians, and geographers, this collection reveals how the banana industry marshaled workers of differing nationalities, ethnicities, and languages and, in so doing, created unprecedented potential for conflict throughout Latin American and the Caribbean. The frequently abusive conditions that banana workers experienced, the contributors point out, gave rise to one of Latin America’s earliest and most militant labor movements. Responding to both the demands of workers’ organizations and the power of U.S. capital, Latin American governments were inevitably affected by banana production. Banana Wars explores how these governments sometimes asserted their sovereignty over foreign fruit companies, but more often became their willing accomplices. With several essays focusing on the operations of the extraordinarily powerful United Fruit Company, the collection also examines the strategies and reactions of the American and European corporations seeking to profit from the sale of bananas grown by people of different cultures working in varied agricultural and economic environments.

Philippe Bourgois
Marcelo Bucheli
Dario Euraque
Cindy Forster
Lawrence Grossman
Mark Moberg
Laura T. Raynolds
Karla Slocum
John Soluri
Steve Striffler
Allen Wells

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About the author

Steve Striffler is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Latin American Studies at the University of Arkansas and the author of In the Shadows of State and Capital: The United Fruit Company, Popular Struggle, and Agrarian Restructuring in Ecuador, 1900–1995 (Duke University Press), winner of the Labor Section of the Latin American Studies Association’s 2003 award for Best Book.

Mark Moberg is Professor of Anthropology at the University of South Alabama. He is the author of Myths of Ethnicity and Nation: Immigration, Work, and Identity in the Belize Banana Industry and Citrus, Strategy, and Class: The Politics of Development in Southern Belize.

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Duke University Press
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Published on
Oct 30, 2003
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Business & Economics / Industries / General
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Reclaiming the Political in Latin American History is a collection that embraces a new social and cultural history of Latin America that is not divorced from politics and other arenas of power. True to the intellectual vision of Brazilian historian Emilia Viotti da Costa, one of Latin America’s most distinguished scholars, the contributors actively revisit the political—as both a theme of historical analysis and a stance for historical practice—to investigate the ways in which power, agency, and Latin American identity have been transformed over the past few decades.
Taking careful stock of the state of historical writing on Latin America, the volume delineates current historiographical frontiers and suggests a series of new approaches that focus on several pivotal themes: the construction of historical narratives and memory; the articulation of class, race, gender, sexuality, and generation; and the historian’s involvement in the making of history. Although the book represents a view of the Latin American political that comes primarily from the North, the influence of Viotti da Costa powerfully marks the contributors’ engagement with Latin America’s past. Featuring a keynote essay by Viotti da Costa herself, the volume’s lively North-South encounter embodies incipient trends of hemispheric intellectual convergence.

Contributors. Jeffrey L. Gould, Greg Grandin, Daniel James, Gilbert M. Joseph, Thomas Miller Klubock, Mary Ann Mahony, Florencia E. Mallon, Diana Paton, Steve J. Stern, Heidi Tinsman, Emilia Viotti da Costa, Barbara Weinstein

Remarkable as it may seem today, there once was a time when the president of the United States could pick up the phone and ask the president of General Motors to resign his position and take the reins of a great national enterprise. And the CEO would oblige, no questions asked, because it was his patriotic duty.
In Freedom’s Forge, bestselling author Arthur Herman takes us back to that time, revealing how two extraordinary American businessmen—automobile magnate William Knudsen and shipbuilder Henry J. Kaiser—helped corral, cajole, and inspire business leaders across the country to mobilize the “arsenal of democracy” that propelled the Allies to victory in World War II.
“Knudsen? I want to see you in Washington. I want you to work on some production matters.” With those words, President Franklin D. Roosevelt enlisted “Big Bill” Knudsen, a Danish immigrant who had risen through the ranks of the auto industry to become president of General Motors, to drop his plans for market domination and join the U.S. Army. Commissioned a lieutenant general, Knudsen assembled a crack team of industrial innovators, persuading them one by one to leave their lucrative private sector positions and join him in Washington, D.C. Dubbed the “dollar-a-year men,” these dedicated patriots quickly took charge of America’s moribund war production effort.
Henry J. Kaiser was a maverick California industrialist famed for his innovative business techniques and his can-do management style. He, too, joined the cause. His Liberty ships became World War II icons—and the Kaiser name became so admired that FDR briefly considered making him his vice president in 1944. Together, Knudsen and Kaiser created a wartime production behemoth. Drafting top talent from companies like Chrysler, Republic Steel, Boeing, Lockheed, GE, and Frigidaire, they turned auto plants into aircraft factories and civilian assembly lines into fountains of munitions, giving Americans fighting in Europe and Asia the tools they needed to defeat the Axis. In four short years they transformed America’s army from a hollow shell into a truly global force, laying the foundations for a new industrial America—and for the country’s rise as an economic as well as military superpower.
Featuring behind-the-scenes portraits of FDR, George Marshall, Henry Stimson, Harry Hopkins, Jimmy Doolittle, and Curtis LeMay, as well as scores of largely forgotten heroes and heroines of the wartime industrial effort, Freedom’s Forge is the American story writ large. It vividly re-creates American industry’s finest hour, when the nation’s business elites put aside their pursuit of profits and set about saving the world.

Praise for Freedom’s Forge
“A rambunctious book that is itself alive with the animal spirits of the marketplace.”—The Wall Street Journal
“A rarely told industrial saga, rich with particulars of the growing pains and eventual triumphs of American industry . . . Arthur Herman has set out to right an injustice: the loss, down history’s memory hole, of the epic achievements of American business in helping the United States and its allies win World War II.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Magnificent . . . It’s not often that a historian comes up with a fresh approach to an absolutely critical element of the Allied victory in World War II, but Pulitzer finalist Herman . . . has done just that.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

From the Hardcover edition.
In The Unpredictability of the Past, an international group of historians examines how collective memories of the Asia-Pacific War continue to affect relations among China, Japan, and the United States. The contributors are primarily concerned with the history of international relations broadly conceived to encompass not only governments but also nongovernmental groups and organizations that influence the interactions of peoples across the Pacific. Taken together, the essays provide a rich, multifaceted analysis of how the dynamic interplay between past and present is manifest in policymaking, popular culture, public commemorations, and other arenas.

The contributors interpret mass media sources, museum displays, monuments, film, and literature, as well as the archival sources traditionally used by historians. They explore how American ideas about Japanese history shaped U.S. occupation policy following Japan’s surrender in 1945, and how memories of the Asia-Pacific War influenced Washington and Tokyo policymakers’ reactions to the postwar rise of Soviet power. They investigate topics from the resurgence of Pearl Harbor images in the U.S. media in the decade before September 11, 2001, to the role of Chinese war museums both within China and in Chinese-Japanese relations, and from the controversy over the Smithsonian Institution’s Enola Gay exhibit to Japanese tourists’ reactions to the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor. One contributor traces how a narrative commemorating African Americans’ military service during World War II eclipsed the history of their significant early-twentieth-century appreciation of Japan as an ally in the fight against white supremacy. Another looks at the growing recognition and acknowledgment in both the United States and Japan of the Chinese dimension of World War II. By focusing on how memories of the Asia-Pacific War have been contested, imposed, resisted, distorted, and revised, The Unpredictability of the Past demonstrates the crucial role that interpretations of the past play in the present.

Contributors. Marc Gallicchio, Waldo Heinrichs, Haruo Iguchi, Xiaohua Ma, Frank Ninkovich, Emily S. Rosenberg, Takuya Sasaki, Yujin Yaguchi, Daqing Yang

What drug lords learned from big business

How does a budding cartel boss succeed (and survive) in the 300 billion illegal drug business? By learning from the best, of course. From creating brand value to fine-tuning customer service, the folks running cartels have been attentive students of the strategy and tactics used by corporations such as Walmart, McDonald's, and Coca-Cola.
     And what can government learn to combat this scourge? By analyzing the cartels as companies, law enforcers might better understand how they work—and stop throwing away 100 billion a year in a futile effort to win the “war” against this global, highly organized business.
     Your intrepid guide to the most exotic and brutal industry on earth is Tom Wainwright. Picking his way through Andean cocaine fields, Central American prisons, Colorado pot shops, and the online drug dens of the Dark Web, Wainwright provides a fresh, innovative look into the drug trade and its 250 million customers.
     The cast of characters includes “Bin Laden,” the Bolivian coca guide; “Old Lin,” the Salvadoran gang leader; “Starboy,” the millionaire New Zealand pill maker; and a cozy Mexican grandmother who cooks blueberry pancakes while plotting murder. Along with presidents, cops, and teenage hitmen, they explain such matters as the business purpose for head-to-toe tattoos, how gangs decide whether to compete or collude, and why cartels care a surprising amount about corporate social responsibility.
More than just an investigation of how drug cartels do business, Narconomics is also a blueprint for how to defeat them.
Latin America experienced an epochal cycle of revolutionary upheavals and insurgencies during the twentieth century, from the Mexican Revolution of 1910 through the mobilizations and terror in Central America, the Southern Cone, and the Andes during the 1970s and 1980s. In his introduction to A Century of Revolution, Greg Grandin argues that the dynamics of political violence and terror in Latin America are so recognizable in their enforcement of domination, their generation and maintenance of social exclusion, and their propulsion of historical change, that historians have tended to take them for granted, leaving unexamined important questions regarding their form and meaning. The essays in this groundbreaking collection take up these questions, providing a sociologically and historically nuanced view of the ideological hardening and accelerated polarization that marked Latin America’s twentieth century. Attentive to the interplay among overlapping local, regional, national, and international fields of power, the contributors focus on the dialectical relations between revolutionary and counterrevolutionary processes and their unfolding in the context of U.S. hemispheric and global hegemony. Through their fine-grained analyses of events in Chile, Colombia, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Peru, they suggest a framework for interpreting the experiential nature of political violence while also analyzing its historical causes and consequences. In so doing, they set a new agenda for the study of revolutionary change and political violence in twentieth-century Latin America.

Michelle Chase
Jeffrey L. Gould
Greg Grandin
Lillian Guerra
Forrest Hylton
Gilbert M. Joseph
Friedrich Katz
Thomas Miller Klubock
Neil Larsen
Arno J. Mayer
Carlota McAllister
Jocelyn Olcott
Gerardo Rénique
Corey Robin
Peter Winn

Rural Revolt in Mexico is a historical investigation of how subaltern political activity engages imperialism, capitalism, and the United States. In this volume, Daniel Nugent has gathered a group of leading scholars whose work examines the relationship of revolts by peasants and Indians in Mexico to the past century of U.S. intervention—from the rural rebellions of the 1840s through the 1910 revolution to the 1994 uprising in Chiapas.
Through their studies of social movements and popular mobilization in the Mexican countryside, the contributors argue for understanding rural revolts in terms of the specific historical contexts of particular regions and peoples, as well as the broader context of unequal cultural, political, and economic relations between Mexico and the United States. Exploring the connections between external and internal factors in social movements, these essays reveal the wide range of organized efforts through which peasants and Indians have struggled to shape their own destiny while confronted by the influence of U.S. capital and military might. Originally published as a limited edition in 1988 by the Center for U. S.–Mexican Studies, this volume presents a pioneering effort by Latin Americanist scholars to sympathetically embrace and enrich work begun in Subaltern Studies between 1982 and 1987 by projecting it onto a different region of historical experience. This revised and expanded edition includes a new introduction by Daniel Nugent and an extensive essay by Adolfo Gilly on the recent Chiapas uprising.
Crowning a decade of innovative efforts in the historical study of law and legal phenomena in the region, Crime and Punishment in Latin America offers a collection of essays that deal with the multiple aspects of the relationship between ordinary people and the law. Building on a variety of methodological and theoretical trends—cultural history, subaltern studies, new political history, and others—the contributors share the conviction that law and legal phenomena are crucial elements in the formation and functioning of modern Latin American societies and, as such, need to be brought to the forefront of scholarly debates about the region’s past and present.
While disassociating law from a strictly legalist approach, the volume showcases a number of highly original studies on topics such as the role of law in processes of state formation and social and political conflict, the resonance between legal and cultural phenomena, and the contested nature of law-enforcing discourses and practices. Treating law as an ambiguous and malleable arena of struggle, the contributors to this volume—scholars from North and Latin America who represent the new wave in legal history that has emerged in recent years-- demonstrate that law not only produces and reformulates culture, but also shapes and is shaped by larger processes of political, social, economic, and cultural change. In addition, they offer valuable insights about the ways in which legal systems and cultures in Latin America compare to those in England, Western Europe, and the United States.
This volume will appeal to scholars in Latin American studies and to those interested in the social, cultural, and comparative history of law and legal phenomena.

Contributors. Carlos Aguirre, Dain Borges, Lila Caimari, Arlene J. Díaz, Luis A. Gonzalez, Donna J. Guy, Douglas Hay, Gilbert M. Joseph, Juan Manuel Palacio, Diana Paton, Pablo Piccato, Cristina Rivera Garza, Kristin Ruggiero, Ricardo D. Salvatore, Charles F. Walker

In this groundbreaking study of American imperialism, leading legal scholars address the problem of the U.S. territories. Foreign in a Domestic Sense will redefine the boundaries of constitutional scholarship.
More than four million U.S. citizens currently live in five “unincorporated” U.S. territories. The inhabitants of these vestiges of an American empire are denied full representation in Congress and cannot vote in presidential elections. Focusing on Puerto Rico, the largest and most populous of the territories, Foreign in a Domestic Sense sheds much-needed light on the United States’ unfinished colonial experiment and its legacy of racially rooted imperialism, while insisting on the centrality of these “marginal” regions in any serious treatment of American constitutional history. For one hundred years, Puerto Ricans have struggled to define their place in a nation that neither wants them nor wants to let them go. They are caught in a debate too politicized to yield meaningful answers. Meanwhile, doubts concerning the constitutionality of keeping colonies have languished on the margins of mainstream scholarship, overlooked by scholars outside the island and ignored by the nation at large.
This book does more than simply fill a glaring omission in the study of race, cultural identity, and the Constitution; it also makes a crucial contribution to the study of American federalism, serves as a foundation for substantive debate on Puerto Rico’s status, and meets an urgent need for dialogue on territorial status between the mainlandd and the territories.

Contributors. José Julián Álvarez González, Roberto Aponte Toro, Christina Duffy Burnett, José A. Cabranes, Sanford Levinson, Burke Marshall, Gerald L. Neuman, Angel R. Oquendo, Juan Perea, Efrén Rivera Ramos, Rogers M. Smith, E. Robert Statham Jr., Brook Thomas, Richard Thornburgh, Juan R. Torruella, José Trías Monge, Mark Tushnet, Mark Weiner

Winner of the 2001 President’s Award of the Social Science History Association

In the Shadows of State and Capital

tells the story of how Ecuadorian peasants gained, and then lost, control of the banana industry. Providing an ethnographic history of the emergence of subcontracting within Latin American agriculture and of the central role played by class conflict in this process, Steve Striffler looks at the quintessential form of twentieth-century U.S. imperialism in the region—the banana industry and, in particular, the United Fruit Company (Chiquita). He argues that, even within this highly stratified industry, popular struggle has contributed greatly to processes of capitalist transformation and historical change.
Striffler traces the entrance of United Fruit into Ecuador during the 1930s, its worker-induced departure in the 1960s, the troubled process through which contract farming emerged during the last half of the twentieth century, and the continuing struggles of those involved. To explore the influence of both peasant activism and state power on the withdrawal of multinational corporations from banana production, Striffler draws on state and popular archives, United Fruit documents, and extensive oral testimony from workers, peasants, political activists, plantation owners, United Fruit administrators, and state bureaucrats. Through an innovative melding of history and anthropology, he demonstrates that, although peasant-workers helped dismantle the foreign-owned plantation, they were unable to determine the broad contours through which the subsequent system of production—contract farming—emerged and transformed agrarian landscapes throughout Latin America.
By revealing the banana industry’s impact on processes of state formation in Latin America, In the Shadows of State and Capital will interest historians, anthropologists, and political scientists, as well as scholars of globalization and agrarian studies.
Hours after the collapse of the Twin Towers, the idea that the September 11 attacks had “changed everything” permeated American popular and political discussion. In the period since then, the events of September 11 have been used to justify profound changes in U.S. public policy and foreign relations. Bringing together leading scholars of history, law, literature, and Islam, September 11 in History asks whether the attacks and their aftermath truly marked a transition in U.S. and world history or whether they are best understood in the context of pre-existing historical trajectories.

From a variety of perspectives, the contributors to this collection scrutinize claims about September 11, in terms of both their historical validity and their consequences. Essays range from an analysis of terms like “ground zero,” “homeland,” and “the axis of evil” to an argument that the U.S. naval base at Guantánamo Bay has become a site for acting out a repressed imperial history. Examining the effect of the attacks on Islamic self-identity, one contributor argues that Osama bin Laden enacted an interpretation of Islam on September 11 and asserts that progressive Muslims must respond to it. Other essays focus on the deployment of Orientalist tropes in categorizations of those who “look Middle Eastern,” the blurring of domestic and international law evident in a number of legal developments including the use of military tribunals to prosecute suspected terrorists, and the justifications for and consequences of American unilateralism. This collection ultimately reveals that everything did not change on September 11, 2001, but that some foundations of democratic legitimacy have been significantly eroded by claims that it did.

Khaled Abou el Fadl
Mary L. Dudziak
Christopher L. Eisgruber
Laurence R. Helfer
Sherman A. Jackson
Amy B. Kaplan
Elaine Tyler May
Lawrence G. Sager
Ruti G. Teitel
Leti Volpp
Marilyn B. Young

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