780 - Export Development, Labour, Race and Ethnicity in Latin America, c. 1870-c. 1960

19.07.2012 | 08:00 - 13:30
19.07.2012 | 17:30 - 19:30

Convener 1: Washbrook, Sarah (St Antony's College, Oxford , Oxford, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)

In the latter part of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century Latin America as a whole experienced a process of rapid export-led growth. However, the social, political and cultural impact of increased integration into international commodity markets and the rising demand for labour associated with it varied greatly between countries and regions. This panel aims to examine the relationships between export development, labour and race and/or ethnicity in Latin America in the period c. 1870-c. 1960 and more broadly to further our understanding of market-led “modernization”, state formation, “the entanglements and transnational transfers between regions, societies and communities”, and the relationships between material change, political power and agency, and cultural identity and ideology. To give but a few examples, export development could be associated with European immigration and free labour along with the extermination and/or marginalization of native peoples, as in Argentina; the incorporation of Indian peasants into the plantation economy through the development of coercive labour regimes and the polarization of ethnic relations, as in southern Mexico and Guatemala; the enslavement and/or extermination of forest Indians in the rubber fields of the Amazon; and the continuation of black slavery and the later proletarianization or peasantization of former slaves, as in Cuba and Brazil. The particular relationship between exports, labour and race or ethnicity was influenced by a range of material and cultural factors, both historical and contemporary, such as the “commodity lottery”, communications, property rights, land tenure, population density, pre-existing labour systems and class, ethnic and gender relations, regional and national politics, processes of state formation and the hegemonic rise of positivism and scientific racism as ways to interpret racial and ethnic differences. The panel seeks to include a broad range of papers from different theoretical and methodological backgrounds. Participants may, for example, wish to focus upon a particular commodity; to analyse labour and/or ethnic and race relations in one area of export development; to compare labour systems in different regions or types of production (plantations and extractive industries, for example); to analyse the impact of export development on Indian societies; to consider the relationship between colonial legacies and modernization; to focus on changing ethnic and racial identities; to examine the intellectual currents that influenced policy-makers; or to analyse the historiography of race and labour in Latin America during the export boom.

Keywords: Labour, Race, Exports, Ethnicity

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