Company Towns in the Americas: Landscape, Power, and Working-Class Communities

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Oliver J. Dinius, Angela Vergara
University of Georgia Press, Jan 1, 2011 - Political Science - 236 pages
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Company towns were the spatial manifestation of a social ideology and an economic rationale. The contributors to this volume show how national politics, social protest, and local culture transformed those founding ideologies by examining the histories of company towns in six countries: Argentina (Firmat), Brazil (Volta Redonda, Santos, Fordlândia), Canada (Sudbury), Chile (El Salvador), Mexico (Santa Rosa, Río Blanco), and the United States (Anaconda, Kellogg, and Sunflower City).

Company towns across the Americas played similar economic and social roles. They advanced the frontiers of industrial capitalism and became powerful symbols of modernity. They expanded national economies by supporting extractive industries on thinly settled frontiers and, as a result, brought more land, natural resources, and people under the control of corporations. U.S. multinational companies exported ideas about work discipline, race, and gender to Latin America as they established company towns there to extend their economic reach. Employers indeed shaped social relations in these company towns through education, welfare, and leisure programs, but these essays also show how working-class communities reshaped these programs to serve their needs.

The editors’ introduction and a theoretical essay by labor geographer Andrew Herod provide the context for the case studies and illuminate how the company town serves as a window into both the comparative and transnational histories of labor under industrial capitalism.


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Textile Workers and the Revolutionary State in Mexico
A CenturyLong Duality
The Ford Motor Company and Racial Engineering in the Brazilian Amazon
Sunflower Village Kansas
Catholic Paternalism and Labor Relations in Brazils Steel City
Canadian and US Mining Towns during the Cold War Era
A Modern Company Town in the Chilean Andes
The Industry of Agricultural Machinery in Firmat Santa Fe
Selected Bibliography on Company Towns in the Americas

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About the author (2011)

Oliver J. Dinius is the Croft Associate Professor of History and International Studies at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of the forthcoming Brazil's Steel City: Developmentalism, Strategic Power, and Industrial Relations in Volta Redonda (1941-1964). Angela Vergara is an assistant professor of history at California State University, Los Angeles. She is the author of Copper Workers, International Business, and Domestic Politics in Cold War Chile.

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