What is it about?
As the coffee economy of southern Mexico grew across the late 19th Century, the question of labor proved a constant thorn. This article looks at how workers leveraged their own scarcity and their employers' lack of coercive power to gain better wages, housing, land, and credit. In this environment of booming coffee, historically abusive debt peonage was flipped on its head, replaced by a system of incentivized contracts .
Why is it important?
Drawing on unused local archives, this article delves deep into the daily workings of coffee plantations as a peripheral region entered onto the global stage of commodity production. It traces particular workers and their employers across a key decade in the history of coffee in the Soconusco while also drawing the region into the broader history of circulation in the Pacific World. Through their stories, the piece demonstrates that the global forces of capitalism could only push so hard against ingrained local customs and relationships.
The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Casey M. Lurtz