Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2020
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
The Roots of Global Citrus in Rural São Paulo and "Nuevo South" Florida

My dissertation is a transnational history of the citrus industry between 1960 and 1995, when the growers of São Paulo State eclipsed the growers of Florida as the world's dominant producers of orange juice – and, in doing so, transformed the culture, agro-ecology, and possibilities for organization in the rural areas of both states. The project is conceived as a reworking and expansion of labor history. Rejecting the tendency of labor historians to ignore capital dynamics and ecological change, my research draws together rural labor and globalized agribusiness in an attempt to understand how local acts of resistance and local ecological contingencies shaped and were shaped by competition and consolidation at the level of capital. How, for example, unionization in Florida drove wages and prices up, creating an opportunity for Brazilian growers to compete; how "dumping" by Brazilian growers in the US market drove Florida's growers to hire non-unionized Latina/o workers rather than local African American labor, making the region an early example of the "Nuevo South"; how class composition in the São Paulo countryside pushed monopsony at the level of global capital; how efforts to undermine wages in Brazil to maintain low prices resulted in massive strikes and land occupations. To structure my research project and dissertation narrative, I will examine three specific aspects of the industry crucial to its growth, the "roots" of its capital: labor, agro-ecology, and financial environment. My research on São Paulo's industry will parallel my already-completed research on Florida's industry. In both cases, I draw on archival sources from rural unions, oral histories with workers, trade journals, industry reports, and correspondence between state and economic actors. More broadly, I use this industry to explore how in the last half-century, agribusiness and agricultural labor have created new ties and new tensions between Latin America and the US South.