Who Makes Cents?: A History of Capitalism Podcast

This month's episode centers Samoa, including the Pacific islands comprising the present-day independent country of Samoa and American Samoa, examining capitalism, globalization, and coconut colonialism at the turn of the 20th century. In doing so, it pays close attention to the lives of workers, including plantation laborers, ethnographic edutainers, and service workers, revealing how Samoans navigated colonialism and capitalism, contesting exploitative labor conditions, while, at the same time, articulating their own forms of Oceanian globality.

Direct download: Holger_Droessler_Hindenburg_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:47am EDT

In 2020, George Floyd was killed by police outside a store in Minneapolis known as “the best place to buy menthols.” Of Black Americans who smoke, eighty-percent smoke menthol cigarettes. In this episode, Keith Wailoo explores the history of menthol cigarettes and their marketing to Black Americans. In doing so, he ties together the history of tobacco companies and the disproportionate number of Black deaths at the hands of police violence, COVID-19, and other forms of racial violence and exploitation, giving new meaning to the cry: “I can’t breathe.” 

Direct download: Hindenburg_-_Final_Episode_-_Keith_Wailoo.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:26pm EDT

This month's episode takes a deep dive into the history of work and automation in the post-World War II era. It traces the discourse around automation from its origins in the factory to its wide-ranging implications in political and social life. Countering automation's proponents, who prophesize that robots will soon replace human labor, Jason Resnikoff reveals how the automation discourse has tended to obscure the human beings who continue to labor, often in sped up and intensified manners, alongside machines.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Jason_Resnikoff.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01am EDT

This month's episode focuses on a popular commodity, namely rubber. Despite consuming a large share of the world's rubber supply, the United States has long relied on the global market to meet American demand for rubber. During the early twentieth-century, this dependence on foreign rubber led the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company to the West African nation of Liberia, where the company built one of the largest rubber plantations in the world. What follows is a tale of land expropriation, medical racism, and corporate power that stretches from the 1920s to the 2020s.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00pm EDT

Indebtedness, like inequality, has become a ubiquitous condition in and beyond the United States. Yet few have probed American cities’ dependence on municipal debt. Focusing on San Francisco, this month's guest, Destin Jenkins, traces the evolving relationship between cities, bondholders, banks, and municipal debt from the Great Depression to the 1980s. In doing so, he sheds new light on the power arrangement at the center of municipal finance, and offers some suggestions on how to contest it.

Direct download: Hindenburg_Final_Episode_Destin_Jenkins_-_smallest.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:10pm EDT