Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Chicago
Industry, Space and Power: Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico and Birmingham, Alabama, 1890-1910

My research focuses on the emergence of two industries-textiles and iron/steel-in order to address larger questions of (non)development. Mexico and the US South share a good number of similarities, from the simultaneity of the wars of the 1860s, to their short-lived reconstructions, to their positioning within the global economy thereafter. One obvious difference is that Mexico emerged in this period as an independent republic, while the South lost its bid for independence and remained a highly-distinct region within the United States. My study proposes that as "developing societies," these two entities faced similar disadvantages. I chose the above-mentioned industries because they figure prominently in both areas. They also represent two distinct paths to industrialization: light and heavy industry. I paired individual firms in order to engage in a comparative analysis that not only distinguishes the crucial historical determinants of peripheral industrialization from the not-so-crucial, but also how to establish patterns of historical determination, as well as how to assess the relative merits of particular theoretical approaches. The results of this analysis will generate coherent explanations of historical reality. It enthusiastically and vigorously seeks to bridge what-until now-have been incommunicable fields of study. In our own days of "globalization," these years become not less, but more relevant. In taking a new look at this earlier age, we may gain a greater insight into the choices facing our own time, and once more allow history to become a means of collective self­education.