Drawing on perspectives from anthropology and social theory, this book explores the quotidian routines of debt collection in nineteenth-century capitalism. It focuses on Switzerland, an exemplary case of liberal rule. Debt collection and bankruptcy relied on received practices until they were standardized in a Swiss federal law in 1889. The vast array of these practices was summarized by the idiomatic Swiss legal term “Rechtstrieb” (literally, “law drive”). Analyzing these forms of summary justice opens a window to the makeshift economies and the contested political imaginaries of nineteenth-century everyday life. Ultimately, the book advances an empirically grounded and theoretically informed history of quotidian legal practices in the everyday economy; it is an argument for studying capitalism from the bottom up.
Biomedicine in an Unstable Place is the story of people's struggle to make biomedicine work in a public hospital in Papua New Guinea. It is a story encompassing the history of hospital infrastructures as sites of colonial and postcolonial governance, the simultaneous production of Papua New Guinea as a site of global medical research and public health, and people's encounters with urban institutions and biomedical technologies. In Papua New Guinea, a century of state building has weakened already inadequate colonial infrastructures, and people experience the hospital as a space of institutional, medical, and ontological instability.
In the hospital's clinics, biomedical practitioners struggle amid severe resource shortages to make the diseased body visible and knowable to the clinical gaze. That struggle is entangled with attempts by doctors, nurses, and patients to make themselves visible to external others—to kin, clinical experts, global scientists, politicians, and international development workers—as socially recognizable and valuable persons. Here hospital infrastructures emerge as relational technologies that are fundamentally fragile but also offer crucial opportunities for making people visible and knowable in new, unpredictable, and powerful ways.
A city is more than a massing of citizens, a layout of buildings and streets, or an arrangement of political, economic, and social institutions. It is also an infrastructure of ideas that are a support for the beliefs, values, and aspirations of the people who created the city. In City Water, City Life, celebrated historian Carl Smith explores this concept through an insightful examination of the development of the first successful waterworks systems in Philadelphia, Boston, and Chicago between the 1790s and the 1860s. By examining the place of water in the nineteenth-century consciousness, Smith illuminates how city dwellers perceived themselves during the great age of American urbanization. But City Water, City Life is more than a history of urbanization. It is also a refreshing meditation on water as a necessity, as a resource for commerce and industry, and as an essential—and central—part of how we define our civilization.
Hurricane Irene ruptured a Baltimore sewer main, resulting in 100 million gallons of raw sewage flooding the local watershed. Levee failures during Hurricane Katrina resulted in massive flooding which did not recede for months. With temperatures becoming more extreme, and storms increasing in magnitude, American infrastructure and risk-management policies require close examination in order to decrease the damage wrought by natural disasters. Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnerabilities addresses these needs by examining how climate change affects urban buildings and communities, and determining which regions are the most vulnerable to environmental disaster. It looks at key elements of urban systems, including transportation, communication, drainage, and energy, in order to better understand the damages caused by climate change and extreme weather. How can urban systems become more resilient? How can citizens protect their cities from damage, and more easily rebound from destructive storms? This report not only breaks new ground as a component of climate change vulnerability and impact assessments but also highlights critical research gaps in the material. Implications of climate change are examined by assessing historical experience as well as simulating future conditions.
Developed to inform the 3rd National Climate Assessment, and a landmark study in terms of its breadth and depth of coverage and conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnerabilities examines the known effects and relationships of climate change variables on American infrastructure and risk-management policies. Its rich science and case studies will enable policymakers, urban planners, and stakeholders to develop a long-term, self-sustained assessment capacity and more effective risk-management strategies.
Standard economic models assume that many small investors own firms. This is so in most large U.S. firms, but wealthy individuals or families generally hold controlling blocks in smaller U.S. firms and in all firms in most other countries. Given this, the lack of theoretical and empirical work on tightly held firms is surprising.
What corporate governance problems arise in tightly held firms? How do these differ from corporate governance problems in widely held firms? How do control blocks arise and how are they maintained? How does concentrated ownership affect economic growth? How should we regulate tightly held firms?
Drawing together leading scholars from law, economics, and finance, this volume examines the economic and legal issues of concentrated ownership and their impact on a shifting global economy.
Case studies that examine how firms coordinate economic activity in the face of asymmetric information—information not equally available to all parties—are the focus of this volume.
In an ideal world, the market would be the optimal provider of coordination, but in the real world of incomplete information, some activities are better coordinated in other ways. Divided into three parts, this book addresses coordination within firms, at the borders of firms, and outside firms, providing a picture of the overall incidence and logic of economic coordination. The case studies—drawn from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, when the modern business enterprise was evolving, address such issues as the relationship between coordination mechanisms and production techniques, the logic of coordination in industrial districts, and the consequences of regulation for coordination.
Continuing the work on information and organization presented in the influential Inside the Business Enterprise, this book provides material for business historians and economists who want to study the development of the dissemination of information and the coordination of economic activity within and between firms.
Policy makers often call for increased spending on infrastructure, which can encompass a broad range of investments, from roads and bridges to digital networks that will expand access to high-speed broadband. Some point to the near-term macroeconomic benefits, such as job creation, associated with infrastructure spending; others point to the long-term effects of such spending on productivity and economic growth.
Economic Analysis and Infrastructure Investment explores the links between infrastructure investment and economic outcomes, analyzing key economic issues in the funding and management of infrastructure projects. It includes new research on the short-run stimulus effects of infrastructure spending, develops new estimates of the stock of US infrastructure capital, and explores incentive aspects of public-private partnerships with particular attention to their allocation of risk. The volume provides a reference for researchers seeking to study infrastructure issues and for policymakers tasked with determining the appropriate level and allocation of infrastructure spending.
Land-based anti-ship missiles (ASMs) feature prominently in the capabilities of many island nations in the Western Pacific, but the United States currently lacks such systems. This report illustrates the potential strategic advantages of the United States working with partners to build a coalition ASM capability, particularly in the event of a conflict with China, and includes an assessment of logistical challenges and positioning approaches.
Between the catastrophic flood of the Tiber River in 1557 and the death of the “engineering pope” Sixtus V in 1590, the city of Rome was transformed by intense activity involving building construction and engineering projects of all kinds. Using hundreds of archival documents and primary sources, Engineering the Eternal City explores the processes and people involved in these infrastructure projects—sewers, bridge repair, flood prevention, aqueduct construction, the building of new, straight streets, and even the relocation of immensely heavy ancient Egyptian obelisks that Roman emperors had carried to the city centuries before.
This portrait of an early modern Rome examines the many conflicts, failures, and successes that shaped the city, as decision-makers tried to control not only Rome’s structures and infrastructures but also the people who lived there. Taking up visual images of the city created during the same period—most importantly in maps and urban representations, this book shows how in a time before the development of modern professionalism and modern bureaucracies, there was far more wide-ranging conversation among people of various backgrounds on issues of engineering and infrastructure than there is in our own times. Physicians, civic leaders, jurists, cardinals, popes, and clerics engaged with painters, sculptors, architects, printers, and other practitioners as they discussed, argued, and completed the projects that remade Rome.
North Americans have reached a socioenvironmental tipping point where social transformation has become necessary to secure a stable and desirable future. As hurricanes destroy coastal areas that once hosted schools and homes, petroleum refineries choke nearby communities and their parks, and pipeline construction threatens water rights for indigenous peoples, communities are left to determine how to best manage and mitigate environmental loss.
In this new collection, a range of contributors—among them researchers, practitioners, organizers, and activists—explore the ways in which people counter or cope with feelings of despair, leverage action for positive change, and formulate pathways to achieve environmental justice goals. These essays pay particular attention to issues of race, class, economic liberalization, and geography; place contemporary environmental struggles in a critical context that emphasizes justice, connection, and reconciliation; and raise important questions about the challenges and responses that concern those pursuing environmental justice.
Contributors include the volume editors, Carol J. Adams, Randall Amster, Jan Inglis, Eileen Delehanty Pearkes, Zoë Roller, and Michael Truscello.
Gone to Ground is an investigation into the material and political forces that transformed the cityscape of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in the 1970s and early 1980s. It is both the story of a particular city and the history of a global moment of massive urban transformation from the perspective of those at the center of this shift. Built around an archive of newspapers, oral history interviews, planning documents, and a broad compendium of development reports, Emily Brownell writes about how urbanites navigated the state’s anti-urban planning policies along with the city’s fracturing infrastructures and profound shortages of staple goods to shape Dar’s environment. They did so most frequently by “going to ground” in the urban periphery, orienting their lives to the city’s outskirts where they could plant small farms, find building materials, produce charcoal, and escape the state’s policing of urban space.
Taking seriously as historical subject the daily hurdles of families to find housing, food, transportation, and space in the city, these quotidian concerns are drawn into conversation with broader national and transnational anxieties about the oil crisis, resource shortages, infrastructure, and African socialism. In bringing these concerns together into the same frame, Gone to Ground considers how the material and political anxieties of the era were made manifest in debates about building materials, imported technologies, urban agriculture, energy use, and who defines living and laboring in the city.
Focusing on the Plains territory of east central South Dakota as well as the Great Lakes lumber-producing region of Wisconsin's Chippewa Valley, John Vogel carefully and thoroughly examines the pattern and process by which lumber reached South Dakota. The Great Dakota Boom of 1878 to 1887 and the Laird, Norton Lumber Company of Winona, Minnesota, provide the basis for his engrossing book.
The westward expansion of the railroad and the continuing settlement of the Great Plains in the late nineteenth century allowed the lumber companies of Minnesota and Wisconsin to send their boards and beams and fenceposts and millwork to a market characterized by great demand and small supply. Laird, Norton followed settlers across southern Dakota as they arrived on the trains. The eastern portions of Dakota were settled first, and thus early lumberyards were found there; as settlement moved west, so did the lumberyards. Beyond its all-important function of distribution, the railroad forced Laird, Norton to alter the very structure of its operation. Experimenting with nearly complete vertical integration, the company pioneered organizational models that would serve significant purposes as frontier America—a republic of wood—solidified itself economically and culturally.
American markets, once a model for the world, are giving up on competition. Thomas Philippon blames the unchecked efforts of corporate lobbyists. Instead of earning profits by investing and innovating, powerful firms use political pressure to secure their advantages. The result is less efficient markets, leading to higher prices and lower wages.
This edited collection explores the contemporary proliferation of roads in South Asia and the Tibet-Himalaya region, showing how new infrastructures simultaneously create fresh connections and reinforce existing inequalities. Bringing together ethnographic studies on the social politics of road development and new mobilities in 21st-century Asia, it demonstrates that while new roads generate new forms of hierarchy, older forms of hierarchy are remade and re-established in creative and surprising new ways. Focused on South Asia but speaking to more global phenomena, the chapters collectively reveal how road planning, construction and usage routinely yield a simultaneous reinforcement and disruption of social, political, and economic relations.
Infrastructure, Environment, and Life in the Anthropocene explores life in the age of climate change through a series of infrastructural puzzles—sites at which it has become impossible to disentangle the natural from the built environment. With topics ranging from breakwaters built of oysters, underground rivers made by leaky pipes, and architecture gone weedy to neighborhoods partially submerged by rising tides, the contributors explore situations that destabilize the concepts we once relied on to address environmental challenges. They take up the challenge that the Anthropocene poses both to life on the planet and to our social-scientific understanding of it by showing how past conceptions of environment and progress have become unmoored and what this means for how we imagine the future.
Contributors. Nikhil Anand, Andrea Ballestero, Bruce Braun, Ashley Carse, Gastón R. Gordillo, Kregg Hetherington, Casper Bruun Jensen, Joseph Masco, Shaylih Muehlmann, Natasha Myers, Stephanie Wakefield, Austin Zeiderman
Learning by Doing in Markets, Firms, and Countries draws out the underlying economics in business history by focusing on learning processes and the development of competitively valuable asymmetries. The essays show that organizations, like people, learn that this process can be organized more or less effectively, which can have major implications for how competition works.
The first three essays in this volume explore techniques firms have used to both manage information to create valuable asymmetries and to otherwise suppress unwelcome competition. The next three focus on the ways in which firms have built special capabilities over time, capabilities that have been both sources of competitive advantage and resistance to new opportunities. The last two extend the notion of learning from the level of firms to that of nations. The collection as a whole builds on the previous two volumes to make the connection between information structure and product market outcomes in business history.
Consider an empty bottle or can, one of the hundreds of billions of beverage containers that are discarded worldwide every year. Empty containers have been at the center of intense political controversies, technological innovation processes, and the modern environmental movement. Making a Green Machine examines the development of the Scandinavian beverage container deposit-refund system, which has the highest return rates in the world, from 1970 to present. Finn Arne Jørgensen investigates the challenges the system faced when exported internationally and explores the critical role of technological infrastructures and consumer convenience in modern recycling. His comparative framework charts the complex network of business and political actors involved in the development of the reverse vending machine (RVM) and bottle deposit legislation to better understand the different historical trajectories empty beverage containers have taken across markets, including the U.S. The RVM has served as more than a hole in the wall--it began simply as a tool for grocers who had to handle empty refillable glass bottles, but has become a green machine to redeem the empty beverage container, helping both business and consumers participate in environmental actions.
The Organization of Industry collects essays written over two decades—pieces prepared especially for this volume, previously unpublished material, and reprinted articles drawn from numerous sources, many which include additional commentary by the author. The essays are unified by George J. Stigler's careful analysis and by his clear and witty style.
In part one, Stigler examines the nature of competition and monopoly. In part two he discusses the forces that determine the size structure of industry, including barriers to entry, economics of scale, and mergers. Part three contains articles on a wide range of topics, such as profitability, delivered price systems, block booking, the economics of information, and the kinky oligopoly demand curve and rigid price. Part four offers a discussion of antitrust policy and includes Stigler's recommendations for future policy as well as an examination of the effects of past policies.
"Stigler's writings might well be subtitled 'The Joys of Doing Economics.' He, more than any other contemporary American economist, dispels the gloom surrounding economic theory. It is impossible to confront the subject treated with such humor and verve and come away still believing that economics is the dismal science."—Shirley B. Johnson, American Scholar
For most people, grocery shopping is a mundane activity. Few stop to think about the massive, global infrastructure that makes it possible to buy Chilean grapes in a Philadelphia supermarket in the middle of winter. Yet every piece of food represents an interlocking system of agriculture, manufacturing, shipping, logistics, retailing, and nonprofits that controls what we eat—or don’t.
The Problem with Feeding Cities is a sociological and historical examination of how this remarkable network of abundance and convenience came into being over the last century. It looks at how the US food system transformed from feeding communities to feeding the entire nation, and it reveals how a process that was once about fulfilling basic needs became focused on satisfying profit margins. It is also a story of how this system fails to feed people, especially in the creation of food deserts. Andrew Deener shows that problems with food access are the result of infrastructural failings stemming from how markets and cities were developed, how distribution systems were built, and how organizations coordinate the quality and movement of food. He profiles hundreds of people connected through the food chain, from farmers, wholesalers, and supermarket executives, to global shippers, logistics experts, and cold-storage operators, to food bank employees and public health advocates. It is a book that will change the way we see our grocery store trips and will encourage us all to rethink the way we eat in this country.
The Promise of Infrastructure
Nikhal Anand, Akhil Gupta, and Hannah Appel, editors Duke University Press, 2018 Library of Congress HC79.C3P78 2018
From U.S.-Mexico border walls to Flint's poisoned pipes, there is a new urgency to the politics of infrastructure. Roads, electricity lines, water pipes, and oil installations promise to distribute the resources necessary for everyday life. Yet an attention to their ongoing processes also reveals how infrastructures are made with fragile and often violent relations among people, materials, and institutions. While infrastructures promise modernity and development, their breakdowns and absences reveal the underbelly of progress, liberal equality, and economic growth. This tension, between aspiration and failure, makes infrastructure a productive location for social theory. Contributing to the everyday lives of infrastructure across four continents, some of the leading anthropologists of infrastructure demonstrate in The Promise of Infrastructure how these more-than-human assemblages made over more-than-human lifetimes offer new opportunities to theorize time, politics, and promise in the contemporary moment.
A School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar
Contributors. Nikhil Anand, Hannah Appel, Geoffrey C. Bowker, Dominic Boyer, Akhil Gupta, Penny Harvey, Brian Larkin, Christina Schwenkel, Antina von Schnitzler
In the 1980s and '90s many countries turned to the private sector to provide infrastructure and utilities, such as gas, telephones, and highways--with the idea that market-based incentives would control costs and improve the quality of essential services. But subsequent debacles including the collapse of California's wholesale electricity market and the bankruptcy of Britain's largest railroad company have raised troubling questions about privatization. This book addresses one of the most vexing of these: how can government fairly and effectively regulate "natural monopolies"--those infrastructure and utility services whose technologies make competition impractical?
Rather than sticking to economics, José Gómez-Ibáñez draws on history, politics, and a wealth of examples to provide a road map for various approaches to regulation. He makes a strong case for favoring market-oriented and contractual approaches--including private contracts between infrastructure providers and customers as well as concession contracts with the government acting as an intermediary--over those that grant government regulators substantial discretion. Contracts can provide stronger protection for infrastructure customers and suppliers--and greater opportunities to tailor services to their mutual advantage. In some cases, however, the requirements of the firms and their customers are too unpredictable for contracts to work, and alternative schemes may be needed.
In the late nineteenth century, public officials throughout the United States began to experiment with new methods of managing their local economies and meeting the infrastructure needs of a newly urban, industrial nation. Stymied by legal and financial barriers, they created a new class of quasi-public agencies called public authorities. Today these entities operate at all levels of government, and range from tiny operations like the Springfield Parking Authority in Massachusetts, which runs thirteen parking lots and garages, to mammoth enterprises like the Tennessee Valley Authority, with nearly twelve billion dollars in revenues each year.
In The Rise of the Public Authority, Gail Radford recounts the history of these inscrutable agencies, examining how and why they were established, the varied forms they have taken, and how these pervasive but elusive mechanisms have molded our economy and politics over the past hundred years.
The fossil fuel revolution is usually a tale of advances in energy production. Christopher Jones tells a tale of advances in energy access--canals, pipelines, wires delivering cheap, abundant power to cities at a distance from production sites. Between 1820 and 1930 these new transportation networks set the U.S. on a path to fossil fuel dependence.
This pathbreaking book tells the dramatic story of a unique manufacturing complex and the city that it helped to create. The events recounted and interpreted by W. David Lewis are of more than local or regional significance. The rise of Sloss furnaces and Birmingham epitomized the emergence of the United States as the world's foremost economic power. Similarly, the closing of a once-profitable ironmaking installation amid social and technological changes that convulsed Birmingham nine decades after the city's founding typified challenges that were facing America at the dawn of the postindustrial age.
Above all, Sloss Furnaces resonates with the class of competition and the frenetic energy with which southerners joined other Americans in a rush to transform a continent after a fratricidal drive for independence had failed. The sweeping narrative that Lewis has produced amply justifies its subtitle, An Industrial Epic.
By the start of the century, nearly one billion international travelers were circulating the globe annually, placing tourism among the worlds’ most ubiquitous geopolitical encounters. While the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a sudden halt, its geopolitical significance remained. With striking clarity, tourism desires and reinvented mobilities revealed the impermanence of Old World orders as new global alliances were forged. While scholars have critically examined tourism in the contexts of development, cultural change, and environmental crisis, much less attention has been paid to the geopolitical drivers and consequences of the world’s largest industry. This collection homes in on tourism and its geopolitical entanglements by examining its contemporary affects, imaginaries, and infrastructures. It develops the concept of tourism geopolitics to reveal the growing centrality of tourism in geopolitical life, as well as the geopolitical nature of the tourism encounter.
In Tourism Geopolitics, contributors show enacted processes such as labor migration, conservation, securitization, nation building, territorial disputes, ethnic cleansing, heritage revitalization, and global health crisis management, among others. These contended societal processes are deployed through tourism development initiatives that mobilize deeply uneven symbolic and material landscapes. The chapters reveal how a range of experiences are implicated in this process: museum visits, walking tours, architectonical evocations of the past, road construction, militarized island imaginations, gendered cultural texts, and official silences. Collectively, the chapters offer ethnographically rich illustrations from around the world that demonstrate the critical nature of tourism in formal geopolitical practices, as well as the geopolitical nature of everyday tourism encounters. This volume is a vital read for critical geographers, anthropologists, and political scientists, as well as scholars of tourism and cultural studies.
Contributors: Sarah Becklake, M. Bianet Castellanos, Matilde Córdoba Azcárate, Jason Dittmer, Klaus Dodds, Jamie Gillen, Simon Halink, Jordan Hallbauer, James Igoe, Debbie Lisle, Mary Mostafanezhad, Dieter K. Müller, Roger Norum, Alessandro Rippa, Ian Rowen, Robert Saunders, Juan Francisco Salazar, Tani Sebro, Mimi Sheller, Henry Szadziewski, Vernadette Vicuña González, Emma Waterton
Yali's Question is the story of a remarkable physical and social creation—Ramu Sugar Limited (RSL), a sugar plantation created in a remote part of Papua New Guinea. As an embodiment of imported industrial production, RSL's smoke-belching, steam-shrieking factory and vast fields of carefully tended sugar cane contrast sharply with the surrounding grassland. RSL not only dominates the landscape, but also shapes those culturally diverse thousands who left their homes to work there.
To understand the creation of such a startling place, Frederick Errington and Deborah Gewertz explore the perspectives of the diverse participants that had a hand in its creation. In examining these views, they also consider those of Yali, a local Papua New Guinean political leader. Significantly, Yali features not only in the story of RSL, but also in Jared Diamond's Pulitzer Prize winning world history Guns, Germs, and Steel—a history probed through its contrast with RSL's. The authors' disagreement with Diamond stems, not from the generality of his focus and the specificity of theirs, but from a difference in view about how history is made—and from an insistence that those with power be held accountable for affecting history.