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Sweatshops at Sea: Merchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present

Overview

As the main artery of international commerce, merchant shipping was the world's first globalized industry, often serving as a vanguard for issues touching on labor recruiting, the employment relationship, and regulatory enforcement that crossed national borders. In Sweatshops at Sea, historian Leon Fink examines the evolution of laws and labor relations governing ordinary seamen over the past two centuries.
The merchant marine offers an ideal setting for examining the changing ...

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Sweatshops at Sea: Merchant Seamen in the World's First Globalized Industry, from 1812 to the Present

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Overview

As the main artery of international commerce, merchant shipping was the world's first globalized industry, often serving as a vanguard for issues touching on labor recruiting, the employment relationship, and regulatory enforcement that crossed national borders. In Sweatshops at Sea, historian Leon Fink examines the evolution of laws and labor relations governing ordinary seamen over the past two centuries.
The merchant marine offers an ideal setting for examining the changing regulatory regimes applied to workers by the United States, Great Britain, and, ultimately, an organized world community. Fink explores both how political and economic ends are reflected in maritime labor regulations and how agents of reform—including governments, trade unions, and global standard-setting authorities—grappled with the problems of applying land-based, national principles and regulations of labor discipline and management to the sea-going labor force. With the rise of powerful nation-states in a global marketplace in the nineteenth century, recruitment and regulation of a mercantile labor force emerged as a high priority and as a vexing problem for Western powers. The history of exploitation, reform, and ultimately, international governance of sea labor offers a compelling precedent in an age of more universal globalization of production and services.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This book stands as a very successful model of global history.--The Historian

An original, engaging, witty, and, yes, important study of seafarers and their struggle for improved working conditions. . . . This is truly an important book, and a well-written one.--Sea History

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807834503
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 3/14/2011
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Leon Fink is Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part I Mastered and Commanded

1 The Nation's Property 9

Nineteenth-Century Sailors and the Political Economy of the Atlantic World

2 Liberty before the Mast 35

Defining Free Labor in Law and Literature

Part II Strategies of Reform

3 Wave of Reform 67

The Sailor's Friend and the Drift toward a Welfare State

4 The Nationalist Solution 93

The La Follette Act of 1915 and the Janus Face of Progressive Reform

5 Workers of the Sea, Unite? 117

The Internationalist Legacy of the Pre-World War I Years

Part III A World Fit for Seafarers?

6 A Sea of Difference 145

The International Labor Organization and the Search for Common Standards, 1919-1946

7 Cooperation and Cash 171

Labor's Opportunity in a Post-Deregulatory Era

Notes 203

Works Cited 241

Acknowledgments 259

Index 261

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