Company Towns in the Americas
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Company Towns in the Americas

Landscape, Power, and Working-Class Communities

Title Details

Pages: 236

Illustrations: 10 b&w photos

Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in



Pub Date: 01/01/2011

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3682-4

List Price: $30.95


Pub Date: 01/01/2011

ISBN: 9-780-8203-3329-8

List Price: $120.95

Company Towns in the Americas

Landscape, Power, and Working-Class Communities

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Contributors

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.

This work provides a new, cross-disciplinary look at industrialization's impact in the Americas from the late 19th into the 20th century. It also shows that issues of gender, labor, race, and class cut across borders, offering readers and scholars a transnational context for understanding past and future. Summing Up: Highly recommended.


It is not very often that a collection can redefine a whole field; this is one of those times.

—Richard A. Greenwald, coeditor of Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective

Company Towns in the Americas is a welcome contribution to pan-American industrial history . . . This thought-provoking volume represents a key text on how industrial capitalism and workers shaped and reshaped local landscapes.

The Americas

Wonderful and original . . . The contributors’ case studies are exceptionally well done, and the result is a very readable book that should be quite accessible to students.

—Steve Striffler, author of Chicken: The Dangerous Transformation of America’s Favorite Food

By broadening our thinking on company towns, the authors present new opportunities for thinking about the convergence between industrial, military, and state planning. Company Towns in the Americas opens exciting new vistas for those who want to understand company towns as more than an exceptional phenomenon.

—Patrick Vitale, Labor History

The authors here suggest that new forms of communication and transportation have already created an ‘earthquake’ and made the traditional company-owned towns a thing of the past.

—Michael A. Amundson, Pacific Historical Review

We are . . . left with vivid, well-researched portraits of the social relations embedded within a wide variety of company towns across the Americas. The case studies implicitly raise important questions about the ways in which company towns have been made, struggled over, and conceptualized. To those questions, Company Towns in the Americas is an important, if not complete, contribution.

—Robert B. Ross, Journal of Historical Geography

Marshall C. Eakin

Elizabeth Esch

Eugenio Feliú

Aurora Gómez-Galvariato

Laurie Mercier

Christopher W. Post

Silvia Simonassi

Fernando Teixeira da Silva

Andrew Herod

About the Author/Editor

Oliver J. Dinius (Editor)
OLIVER J. DINIUS is the Croft Associate Professor of History and International Studies at the University of Mississippi. He is the author of Brazil’s Steel City: Developmentalism, Strategic Power, and Industrial Relations in Volta Redonda, 1941–1964.

Angela Vergara (Editor)
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.