The Second Conquest of Latin America: Coffee, Henequen, and Oil during the Export Boom, 1850-1930

The Second Conquest of Latin America: Coffee, Henequen, and Oil during the Export Boom, 1850-1930

The Second Conquest of Latin America: Coffee, Henequen, and Oil during the Export Boom, 1850-1930

The Second Conquest of Latin America: Coffee, Henequen, and Oil during the Export Boom, 1850-1930

Excerpt

This book began as a conversation. Noting that politicians in Latin America, the United States, and much of the rest of the world have returned to their blind faith in the magic of the market, free trade, and small government, we were struck by the degree to which decision makers are suffering from historical amnesia. Because we had spent decades studying export economies in Mexico and Brazil, we knew that today's new world order was not so new. We had heard many of the arguments, the praise, and the predictions before, and we knew the dead end that export economies had proved to be historically in Latin America.

We responded as academics are wont to do: we organized a panel on the legacy of export economies at the American Historical Association in December 1992. We invited Jonathan Brown—a noted specialist on petroleum—to discuss oil, and two distinguished commentators—Mira Wilkins, pioneering student of the history of multinational corporations and international business in general, and Carlos Marichal, an expert in international finance. The panel generated so much discussion and provoked so many new questions that we knew our work was not done. We then decided to publish a small volume to bring our questions and perspective to the scholarly and general public.

Fortunately, Theresa May, codirector of the University of Texas Press, and Virginia Hagerty of the Institute of Latin American Studies at the University of Texas-Austin, shared our vision. They gave us the space and time to develop our ideas further and we are grateful.

In the years between conversation and text, we incurred numerous intellectual debts, indeed, too many to acknowledge. Intellectual work is by definition teamwork, since we work in communities of knowledge in which our understandings, our questions, our very words are collective actions. We found working together an extremely valuable and enriching experience. Some people stand out, however.

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