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Workers in Hard TimesA Long View of Economic Crises$
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Leon Fink, Joan Sangster, and Joseph A. McCartin

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780252038174

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252038174.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 17 September 2021

The Labor of Capitalism

The Labor of Capitalism

Industrial Revolution and the Transformation of the Global Cotton-Growing Countryside

(p.83) 4 The Labor of Capitalism
Workers in Hard Times

Sven Beckert

University of Illinois Press

This chapter begins by discussing the concept transnational labor history and the challenge it poses to labor historians. It then examines the worldwide crisis of cotton production touched off by the American Civil War, emancipation, and the subsequent frantic search for alternatives, including coolie and sharecropping labor systems. It shows that despite the variety of labor regimes, cotton cultivators everywhere faced essentially similar challenges of labor in the global age: market fluctuations, state coercion, inescapable debt and contract regimes, and political marginalization. These were the people who would grow ever-larger amounts of cotton, from India to Central Asia, from Egypt to the United States, and the new labor regimes in which they found themselves symbolized one of the most significant changes of the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   cotton production, American Civil War, emancipation, coolie, sharecropping, labor history, transnational labor history, labor regimes

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