In the Shadows of State and Capital

The United Fruit Company, Popular Struggle, and Agrarian Restructuring in Ecuador, 1900–1995

In the Shadows of State and Capital

American Encounters/Global Interactions

More about this series

Book Pages: 256 Illustrations: Published: December 2001

Author: Steve Striffler

Subjects
Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Latin American Studies > Andes, Politics > Political Science

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.

Praise

In the Shadows of State and Capital will be of interest not only to scholars of Latin America, but also those who study global capitalism, labor, peasant organizations, and the state. It provides a detailed case study of multinational corporations and transformations in labor systems without ignoring the voices and motivations of individual actors in the process.” — Rachel Corr, Journal of Colonialism & Colonial History

In the Shadows of State and Capital tells the story of how Ecuadorian peasants gained and then lost control of the banana industry. It looks at the quintessential form of 20th-century U.S. imperialism in the region—the banana industry and in particular, the United Fruit Company (Chiquita), and how popular struggle brought transformation and change.” — Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education

“[An] enlightening work of historical anthropology . . . .” — John L. Hammond, History: Reviews of New Books

“Eminently readable and fascinating, this book serves as a reminder that things are not always as they seem. . . . [R]ecommended for lower-division undergraduate through professional collections.” — J. L. Dietz, Choice

“Striffler’s sophisticated interpretations of the interactions between government officials, international corporations, local capitalists, and subaltern actors make this a landmark book which will earn it a place in leading studies of a new peasant history. This well-written and compelling book crosses many borders between history, anthropology, sociology, and political science. It will be of interest to anyone interested in ethnographic, labor, economic, and international relations issues during the twentieth century not only in Ecuador, but throughout Latin America.” — Marc Becker, Ecuatorianistas Listserv

"[A] fascinating case study of labor militancy, political struggle, and state involvement in the restructuring of banana production in the Tenguel region." — David Sowell, The Americas

"A refreshingly new look at the history of United Fruit and its interactions with the nations of Latin America, at the association of state and capital, and at the experience of workers and peasants who actually grow the tropical fruit that ends up on American breakfast tables. . . . This book deservedly won the Social Science History Association's 2001 President's Award. Its engaging and jargon-free writing, its application of the latest scholarship on agrarian studies to the history of United Fruit in Ecuador, and its extensive use of oral and documentary sources make it a welcome addition to the bookshelf of any Latin American historian interested in questions related to land reform, international capital, export societies, or social movements." — Mary Ann Mahony, Hispanic American Historical Review

"A significant contribution to the literature on Ecuador. . . . Highly recommended to scholars interested in social movements in general and in Ecuador and Latin America in particular." — Michael S. Harris, Ethnohistory

"[O]ne of Striffler’s strengths is his insistence that capitalists and state actors, far from merely representing structures that peasants and workers deal with, are themselves highly active agents in the transformations taking place, marshaling their own political and economic forces to undermine how far reaching such peasant-worker successes might become. . . . [E]nlightening."
— David Griffith, American Ethnologist

"The author displays excellent skill at integrating interviews with archival and newspaper research. . . . This book should be read by all specialists working on agrarian class relations in the context of 'third world' plantation economies and peasant struggles generally for its persistent focus on working-class and peasant agency. It makes an important and well-documented contribution to understanding how working people can influence the course of the linkages between the local, national, and global in the world's capitalist economy." — Aldo Lauira Santiago, Labor History

"[T]his is a significant and highly original piece of scholarship. Striffler has provided much more than an explanation of the change in relations of production in banana production in Ecuador; he has constructed a template for historical investigation that should be well considered by others researching the social history of late capitalism."
— Ronn Pineo, American Historical Review

"For its adept analysis of multiple social actors--capitalists, the state, peasant organizations, and workers union--In the Shadows of State and Capital offers a potent model of how structural relations emerge through changing global production practices. Those interested in recovering class as a central question can learn a lot from the peasants and workers of this fertile, tropical zone. Striffler also offers regional scholars a clear narrative linking neoliberal capitalism to a century of foreign investment, worker struggle, and state policy. Finally, with its clear prose, extraordinary case study, and theoretical depth, this book should be taught by those seeking to raise consciousness about the global economy and its impact on lives in rural regions and developing nations." — Rudi Colloredo-Mansfeld, Anthropological Quarterly

"Presenting an excellent piece of scholarship, the book should be of interest to a number of researchers. . . . In the Shadows of State and Capital is a very good book, and an important one, insofar as it gives us a well-documented case study of food imperialism and succeeds in showing its political basis, a goal that could fruitfully be extended beyond the banana republics." — Alf Rehn, Gastronomica

"Steve Striffler’s history of United Fruit in Ecuador ‘from the bottom up’ breaks new methodological and historical ground in the emerging portrait of the banana giant."
— Paul J. Dosal, International History Review

"Steve Striffler's In the Shadows of State and Capital is not just an excellent account of the transformation of banana production in Ecuador over the course of the twentieth century. The book also makes important contributions to our understanding of state formation, the relationship between the local and the global, and social movements that have significance far beyond the particular cases of the banana industry and Ecuador. . . . Striffler is both an eloquent writer and a compelling story-teller, making In the Shadows of State and Capital not only an important work but also one that is enjoyable to read." — John D. Cameron, Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"Striffler has filled a critical gap in Ecuadorian historiography and produced an innovative framework for studying relations among peasants, states, and capital in export economies." — Stuart McCook,, Enterprise & Society

"Striffler successfully combines historical and ethnographic evidence in support of his argument that the processes of agrarian change do not simply emanate from the logics of global capitalist expansion. . . . This is a well-grounded and important contribution to the literature on contract farming." — Elizabeth Oglesby, Social History

"Striffler’s sophisticated interpretations of the interactions between government officials, international corporations, local capitalists, and subaltern actors make this a landmark book which will earn it a place in leading studies of a new peasant history. This well-written and compelling book crosses many borders between history, anthropology, sociology, and political science. It will be of interest to anyone interested in ethnography, labor, economic, and international relations issues during the twentieth century not only in Ecuador, but throughout Latin America." — Marc Becker, The United Fruit Historical Society

"Striffler's contribution exhibits the best of the anthropological encounter along with the historical trade. . . . This book will prove useful to students and specialists across the disciplinary spectrum who are interested in Latin America, peasant protest, agrarian history, and the development of capitalism." — Chad Black, Red River Valley Historical Journal

"This is an excellent example of the emerging field of ‘new peasant studies.’. . . The result is a fascinating and compelling study of how local struggles shape global economies, and vice versa. . . . Striffler’s sophisticated interpretations of the interactions between government officials, international corporations, local capitalists, and subaltern actors make this a landmark book which will earn it a place in leading studies of a new peasant history. This well-written and compelling book crosses many borders between history, anthropology, sociology, and political science. It will be of value to anyone interested in ethnographic, labor, economic, and international relations issues during the twentieth century not only in Ecuador, but throughout Latin America."
— Marc Becker, H-Net Reviews

“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

“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

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Fall 2019 Sale
Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Steve Striffler is Professor of Anthropology and Doris Zemurray Stone Chair in Latin American Studies at the University of New Orleans.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments

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

11. Conclusion

Notes

Bibliography

Index
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Winner, LASA Labor Section's 2003 Award for Best Book


Winner, Social Science History Association President’s Book Award


Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2863-6 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2836-0
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