Synopses & Reviews
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.
“This is an ambitious and stimulating story told with verve and momentum. Striffler does a magnificent job of clarifying the causes, forms, and logic of the various movements of workers and peasants that contributed to the United Fruit Company’s abandonment of the plantation, the emergence of peasant cooperatives, and their eventual replacement by local capitalists.”—Catherine LeGrand, coeditor of Close Encounters of Empire: Writing the Cultural History of U.S.-Latin American Relations
“An innovative contribution to the study of the relationships between popular groups, state agents, and a series of capitalists. Striffler uses a fascinating array of sources such as life histories, local archives and newspapers, and even the internal correspondence between United Fruit officials.”—Carlos de la Torre, author of Populist Seduction in Latin America: The Ecuadorian Experience
A historical ethnography of the banana industry in Ecuador that demonstrates how capitalist transitions have shaped the twentieth century.
About the Author
Steve Striffler is Professor of Anthropology and Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies at the University of New Orleans.
Table of Contents
1. Capitalist Transformations
Part One: The World of Plantations
2. The Banana Boys Come to Ecuador
3. The Birth of an Enclave: Labor Control and Worker Resistance
4. On the Margins of the Enclave: The Formation of State, Capital, and Community
5. Imagining New Worlds
6. The End of an Enclave
Part Two: The Emergence of Contract Farming
7. From Workers to Peasants and Back Again: Agrarian Reform at the Core of an Enclave
8. From Struggles to Movement: The Expansion of Protest and Community Formation
9. The Reconstruction of State, Capital, and Popular Struggle
10. In Search of Workers: Contract Farming and Labor Organizing