Tobacco Capitalism: Growers, Migrant Workers, and the Changing Face of a Global Industry

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Overview

"An astonishing ethnography of tobacco farming, from history to lived experience. A remarkable achievement!"—Arthur Kleinman, Harvard University

"Benson has a fine ethnographic eye and a keen sense of theoretical nuance, allowing him to capture the struggles of North Carolina tobacco farmers as never before. Tobacco Capitalism is a wonderful chronicle of racialized rhetoric, migrant pride, Big Tobacco malevolence, and the sorry state of farming in new millennium America—a must-read text."—Robert N. Proctor, Stanford University

"This important book deploys cutting-edge theory in anthropology and cultural studies to examine the vastly understudied subject of tobacco farming. Through close readings of historical shifts in the farm economy and tobacco policy, Benson deftly explores the ways in which the tobacco industry has encouraged growers to attribute their economic distress to antismoking advocates rather than to agricultural restructuring, global competition, and corporate practices."—Kathryn Dudley, Yale University

"This thoughtful, original, and interesting book is at once a history of the smoke screens of the tobacco industry, and a story about a community of growers struggling to maintain their dignity at a time when tobacco is overwhelmingly condemned. With an even and balanced voice, Benson fills a glaring void in the literature on this subject."—Mimi Nichter, University of Arizona

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Anthropologist Benson explains the shifts in US Growers' role in the multinational tobacco industry in the last half century through his focus on North Carolina's Wilson County, at the heart of US tobacco production. He bases his work on archival and ethnographic analysis of North Carolina tobacco growers and farmworkers and, more broadly, of government and industry perspectives.
Durham Anthropology Journal
This is a big, angry, brickbat of a book. The focus of most social science research on tobacco is its consumption, so it is good to have its modes of production put under the spotlight. . . . Its 323 pages are a worthy contribution to the literature on agribusiness and agricultural capitalism and the pernicious role of the tobacco industry in manipulating the production as well as the consumption of its product for its own immoral ends.
— Andrew J. Russell
Durham Anthropology Journal - Andrew J. Russell
This is a big, angry, brickbat of a book. The focus of most social science research on tobacco is its consumption, so it is good to have its modes of production put under the spotlight. . . . Its 323 pages are a worthy contribution to the literature on agribusiness and agricultural capitalism and the pernicious role of the tobacco industry in manipulating the production as well as the consumption of its product for its own immoral ends.
From the Publisher
Winner of the 2012 James Mooney Award, Southern Anthropological Society

Winner of the 2013 Delmos Jones and Jagna Sharff Memorial Prize for the Critical Study of North America, Society for the Anthropology of North America / American Anthropological Association

Finalist for the 2012 Society for the Anthropology of Work Book Prize

"Anthropologist Benson explains the shifts in US Growers' role in the multinational tobacco industry in the last half century through his focus on North Carolina's Wilson County, at the heart of US tobacco production. He bases his work on archival and ethnographic analysis of North Carolina tobacco growers and farmworkers and, more broadly, of government and industry perspectives."—
Choice

"This is a big, angry, brickbat of a book. The focus of most social science research on tobacco is its consumption, so it is good to have its modes of production put under the spotlight. . . . Its 323 pages are a worthy contribution to the literature on agribusiness and agricultural capitalism and the pernicious role of the tobacco industry in manipulating the production as well as the consumption of its product for its own immoral ends."—Andrew J. Russell, Durham Anthropology Journal

"[T]his book constitutes a significant contribution to the field of the anthropology of (corporate) capitalism and will definitely appeal to a broader readership in other social sciences, anti-smoking activists and possibly even to corporate employees."—Marian Viorel Anastasoaie, Social Anthropology

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691149202
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/20/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,488,853
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Benson is assistant professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the coauthor of "Broccoli and Desire: Global Connections and Maya Struggles in Postwar Guatemala".

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vii
Foreword by Allan M. Brandt ix
Preface xi
Introduction 1

PART I:The Tobacco Industry, Public Health, and Agrarian Change
Chapter 1: Most Admired Company 37
Chapter 2: The Jungle 63
Chapter 3: Enemies of Tobacco 96

PART II: Innocence and Blame in American Society
Chapter 4: Good, Clean Tobacco 135
Chapter 5: El Campo 166
Chapter 6: Sorriness 210

Conclusion: Reflections on the Tobacco Industry (and American Exceptionalism) 258
Bibliography 275
Index 307

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