Mon, 6 November 2023
Are you a professional living and working in an English-speaking country? If so, this episode is for you.
Teachers, doctors, nurses, accountants, engineers, lawyers, social workers, the list goes on, professionals play an important role in our society. This wasn't always the case. This episode explores the rise of the professional class in the Anglophone world, including engaging in a decades-old question of whether or not professionals constitute a class. Topics covered include the role that professionals played in the rise of Anglo-settler colonialism; the relationship between the professions and virtue; racial, gendered, and class identities among professionals; and the intensifying battle between professionals and managers. Once seen as allied in administering the global welfare state, professionals and managers, in recent decades, have increasingly found themselves on opposing sides—a conflict made pronounced, in the United States, at least, by a series of recent teachers and nurses strikes, among other examples.
Sun, 3 September 2023
An iced cold Coca-Cola. A cross-country flight on Delta to visit friends. A much-needed medication overnighted via Fed-Ex. Bulk toilet paper purchased at Wal-Mart. What do these items have in common? In today’s modern economy, each of these can be purchased from the comfort of the couch, frequently with a credit card pioneered by Bank of America. They are all also from companies headquartered in the American South. In this month's episode, historian Bart Elmore explains how corporations from the American South helped make it possible for us to satisfy our desires from the convenience of our home and/or hometown, no matter how remote, and the environmental costs associated with each.
Wed, 2 August 2023
This month's episode gives a nod to one of the figures in our logo: the construction worker. Our guest, Mark Erlich has worked in the construction industry as a carpenter and union leader for a half century. In this episode, he shares his insights on the industry's past, present, and future, paying particular attention to the politics and material conditions surrounding construction work. In response to those who argue that today's labor shortages in the construction industry are the result of societal preferences, Erlich points to the decades-long degradation of construction work, including declining pay and protections. Fix those and you'll solve the labor problem.
Mon, 3 July 2023
In this month's episode, guest Chelsea Schields discusses oil refining and intimacy, illuminating the social ties and affective attachments engendered by oil in the Dutch islands of Aruba and Curaçao. Known today for their gorgeous beaches and sunny weather that attract tourists year-round, during the mid-twentieth century these islands were home to some of the largest oil refineries in the world. Along the way, we cover topics such as the role of race and gender in structuring labor relations; inter and intra imperial politics; migration; anti-colonial and anti-welfare movements; the 'offshore'; and much much more.
Thu, 4 May 2023
When it was completed in 1914, the Panama Canal nearly halved the travel time between the U.S. West Coast and Europe and revolutionized trade and travel between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It’s construction, overseen by the U.S. government-Isthmian Canal Commission (ICC), has long been hailed as a marvel of American ingenuity. Less well-known was the project’s dependence on the labor of Black migrant women. In this episode, Joan Flores-Villalobos demonstrates how Black West Indian women’s intimate lives and labor were at the center of the Panama Canal’s construction, explaining how they built a provisioning economy that proved critical to the canal’s development and the maintenance of the West Indian diaspora.
Wed, 5 April 2023
In this month's episode, Christy Thornton discusses the surprising influence of post-revolutionary Mexico on some of the twentieth century's most important international economic institutions, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Triangulating between archives in Mexico, the United States, and Great Britain, Thornton traces how Mexican officials repeatedly led the charge among Third World nations campaigning for greater representation within and redistribution through multilateral institutions created to promote international development and finance. In doing so, she recovers the crucial role played by Mexican economists, diplomats, and politicians in shaping global economic governance and U.S. hegemony during the mid-twentieth century.
Tue, 7 March 2023
This month, we welcomed Jennifer Mittelstadt back to the show, joined by Mark Wilson, to discuss their new edited volume, The Military and the Market. Moving beyond familiar topics like defense spending, the volume takes an expansive approach to examining military-market relations in a wide range of contexts--from family business in the Civil War to managing post-World War II housing construction for U.S. soldiers and their families, and much more. Alongside Jennifer and Mark, listeners will hear from Kara Dixon Vuic, whose chapter explores the U.S. military's managment of markets for sex. Taken together, The Military and the Market challenges scholars and military policymakers alike to really grapple with the breadth and complexity of U.S. military-market relations over the course of two centuries.
Wed, 1 February 2023
In this episode, historian Allan Lumba explores how the United States wielded monetary authority in the colonial Philippines, including the role of money as a tool for countering decolonization, entrenching racial and class hierarchies, and directing the profits of colonialism towards the U.S. and Wall Street, in particular, with long-lasting consequences for Filipinos and Americans still dealing with the aftermath of what Lumba calls conditional decolonization.