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Making the Empire WorkLabor and United States Imperialism$
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Daniel E. Bender and Jana K. Lipman

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781479871254

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479871254.001.0001

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Through the Looking Glass: U.S. Empire through the Lens of Labor History

(p.1) Introduction
Making the Empire Work

Daniel E. Bender

Jana K. Lipman

NYU Press

This introductory chapter discusses the labor systems that made the U.S. empire from the point of view of labor historians. These chroniclers have recorded that the metropolitan immigrant worker, the faraway plantation laborer, and the domestic guest worker of the United States were joined by flows of goods and commodities, but are separated by notions of ineffable distance. Their stories raise questions about the relationships between worker and employer, solidarity and dissent, distance and proximity, and production and consumption. In addition, the chapter states that the emphasis on empire and labor forces an engagement with a global economy that intimately connects the tropics with industrial production.

Keywords:   U.S. empire, labor historians, metropolitan immigrant worker, plantation laborer, domestic guest worker, global economy, industrial production

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