PS 355 Labor in the Americas: US & Mexico in Comparative and Historical Perspective

Provides a critical examination of the history of labor and working people in the Americas, from the colonial era to the present. It focuses on the experience of the United States and Mexico, offering a comparative perspective on their distinct but also shared (and increasingly linked) histories. The seminar proceeds chronologically, highlighting major episodes in the evolution of labor systems in the two countries, beginning with the colonial labor systems implemented by the Spanish and British empires following the European conquest of the Western Hemisphere. Among other topics, we will examine the pivotal role of slavery and other forms of forced labor, the impact of the industrial revolution, the emergence and expansion of corporate capitalism and the labor unrest it provoked in the post-civil war U.S., the role of labor in the Mexican Revolution and its aftermath, the impact of the Great Depression and labor incorporation on the post-WWII social and political order of both countries, the breakdown of that order and the move to neo-liberalism in the 1970s and 1980s, and the emergence of an increasingly integrated North American production system and its consequences for labor and working people on both sides of the US-Mexico border.