[URBANTH-L]New book: Subsidizing Capitalism

Tamar Diana Wilson tamardiana at yahoo.com
Sat May 14 21:47:29 EDT 2005

Since everyone is posting their new books (and it is
nice to know of them), I would like to post mine.

Wilson, Tamar Diana.  2005.  Subsidizing Capitalism:
Brickmakers on the U.S.-Mexican Border. Albany:  SUNY
Press (Studies in the Anthropology of Work) 
Forthcoming in July, unfortunately not in paperback.

Subsidizing Capitalism:  Brickmakers on the
U.S./Mexican Border
	In Mexicali, as elsewhere in Mexico, brickmakers may
labor at a piece-rate on brickyards owned or rented-in
by others, may rent-in brickyards, may become
brickyard owners, and as owners or renters-in may use
unpaid family members and /or employees to work for
them.  There is thus a heterogeneous relation to the
“means of production” in this informal sector
activity.  The labor of wives and offspring may aid
brickmakers to move from non-owner to ownership
status.  The economic activities of self-employed
brickmakers may be considered counterhegemonic in that
they avoid proletarianization in the formal sector. 
Their production is subsumed by capitalism, however;
their labor and the labor of their wives and children
subsidizes capitalist enterprise by providing bricks
to build tourist hotels, factories, bank and office
buildings and shopping malls at a cost below that
which would be acceptable for a brick factory run
according to profit-making principles and hiring
formalized labor.  
	Combining Chayanovian and neo-Marxist approaches,
Subsidizing Capitalism:  Brickmakers on the
U.S./Mexican border discusses the similarities between
peasants and brickmakers, the trajectory from  piece
worker to petty commodity producer to petty
capitalist, the economic value of women and children’s
work as part of the family labor force, and how the
neo-patriarchal household is intrinsic to petty
commodity production.  It also compares the structural
position of garbage pickers to brickmakers. An
appendix compares the findings of the author with
those of Scott Cook, pioneer in the studies of the
Mexican hand-made brick industry. Interspersed
throughout the monograph are short stores and poems
either giving the brickmakers’ point of view, or
presenting their lives in a format alternative to
academic prose.  Twenty-three photographs are included.

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