Chapter 18 • Revolutions of Industrialization


Lecture 3: Economic imperialism



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Lecture 3: Economic imperialism

Americans are often indignant at the suggestion that we could be regarded as imperialists, yet this chapter presents a form of economic imperialism in Latin America in which the United States was deeply involved. The purpose of this lecture strategy is to examine U.S. relations with Latin America in the nineteenth century in greater detail, considering economic imperialism as a factor. For the sake of comparison, it is suggested that the lecturer weave in a discussion of the more overt economic imperialism that Great Britain exercised over India. The purposes of this lecture strategy are:

• to explore in greater detail the history of Latin America after independence

• to examine the relationship between Latin America and its big sister the United States in the nineteenth century

• to discuss the ways in which foreign economic manipulation could shape states that were only marginally industrialized

• to compare Britain’s economic sway over India to that of the United States over Latin America

Begin with a clip from the glorious 1982 film Gandhi, specifically the scene in which a desperate villager enlists Gandhi’s help after the British stop buying the products they had ordered the Indians to produce. This can proceed naturally to a wider presentation of industrial nations’ unrelenting quest for raw materials and for markets for their finished products. From there, tell the tale of industrial nations’ involvement in Latin America and India. Some issues to consider are:

• how local elites were made to participate in the system in the two regions

• the type of foreign involvement (investment, direct ownership, etc.)

• how each region increased its exports to satisfy foreign need

• internal movements that resisted the process

• the effects on Latin America and India

• the role of warfare in both cases

Things to Do in the Classroom

Discussion Topics

1. Contextualization (large or small group). “Jane Austen’s England meets the Industrial Revolution.” Show the class a clip from a Jane Austen movie such as Emma, Pride and Prejudice, or Sense and Sensibility. Then divide the class into groups and ask them to discuss what relationship Jane Austen’s world might have to the early Industrial Revolution.

2. Comparison (large or small group). “Industrial Revolution and global divide.” Direct your students’ attention to the Snapshot on page 847 entitled “The Industrial Revolution and the Global Divide.” Encourage them to make a list of the patterns they see in the table and to discuss the implications of those patterns.

3. Misconception/Difficult Topic (large or small group). “Europe must be special, since it came up with the Industrial Revolution.” The main thrust of this chapter is to argue against this common misconception. Ask students to take a few minutes to reread the Reflections section at the end of the chapter. Then ask them to discuss whether they are convinced by the author’s argument that the Industrial Revolution’s development in Great Britain in the decades around 1800 was more an accident than anything else.

Classroom Activities

1. Analysis exercise (large or small group). “Life in an industrial city, ca. 1850.” We tend to take the organization of urban space for granted—on payment of a small fee, our garbage is collected, water miraculously appears in our houses, we’re hooked up to an electrical system, and mail even turns up on our doorsteps. The purpose of this exercise is to help students consider how hard it really is to make a modern city functional, thus encouraging them to consider how intractable some of the problems of industrialization really were. This exercise has several parts:

• Encourage the class as a whole to come up with several end results that they consider necessary to reasonably healthy and bearable life in a city of 100,000 people (such as a municipal water system that pumps clean water to somewhere reasonably close to most people’s homes).

• Divide the class into groups, assigning one end result to each group.

• Ask the students in each group to discuss and make a list of the conditions that would have to be satisfied to reach their end result (e.g., in the case of water supply, the need to dig wells or divert other water sources, some sort of water treatment facility, miles and miles of pipes laid, the creation of pumping stations, etc.).

• Bring the groups back together to discuss their findings.

2. Clicker question. Do you find socialism appealing?

3. Role-playing exercise (small group). “Where to invest?” The members of the class are the board of directors of a major bank based in London; the year is 1880. They wish to invest a large amount of capital in heavy industry and are hearing reports from their agents to help them decide the best place for their capital investment. Choose three groups of students to make the case for Mexico, Russia, or Great Britain itself as the best place to invest. After the groups have made their arguments, let the board of directors vote. Finish the class by discussing what really was the most likely to happen historically to each of the three investment possibilities, and why.



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