Tinsman’s Buying into the Regime used the grape industry in Chile to demonstrate the impact of the socialist government, the military dictatorship and the Cold War on globalization. During the socialist government and Allende’s presidency, the grape industry grew gradually, unions grew quickly, the workers were well paid and the land was expropriated to provide equity. United States was very hesitant to do business with Chile during this time because they were Socialists/Communists. They also assisted with the overthrow of Allende. During the military dictatorship and Pinochet’s rule, state-run entities were given to privately run companies and unions were disassembled. Grape exports increased substantially but the lives of the grape labors declined. Initially the regime was supported and encouraged by the United States because it supported a capitalist rather than socialist society.
The political climate was one aspect of the transnational relationship and the other was the grape markets. The increase of Chilean grapes on the American market made significant changes to the Chilean way of life. Chileans began to produce larger quantities of grapes which eventually turned into production for export, not for domestic consumption. It also impacted spending habits and gender roles in Chile. While their grape production made it possible for Americans in have increased access to healthier food, the grape laborers could not afford to purchase healthy food. Food became much more expensive so they could afford less.
I didn’t feel as though the argument in this book was a clear as it has been in previous works. However, I believe it was meant to show that the privatization of the market and the focus on increasing profits no matter what the consequences on the laborer or the working class, has developed the kind of globalization that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
I am also now concerned about whether they resolved the pesticide issue or if I should consider not eating my Chilean grapes.
Don’t eat your Chilean grapes! haha
It is interesting that you brought up Tinsman’s argument in this book not being as clear as other books. I don’t necessarily agree, but as I read the introduction I did feel like her argument and overall methodology was going a bit ambitious. She addresses a variety of different nuances of the Chilean Grape transnational narrative with different methodologies (oral histories, looking at advertisements, labor histories, etc). I was afraid that the author was stretching to scope too thinly, but i was pleasantly surprised that she was able to cover all of these aspects adequately and tied them all together. It’s a great example of how multidisciplinary a transnational study can be.
Good point. I think that’s a better way to put it. There were a lot of different aspects to a larger argument and that made it a little more difficult for me to focus. I really enjoyed the story and learning about everything grape. 🙂
One of the more interesting aspects of Tinsman’s study was that of role of consumerism, in particular the newly found consumerism of Chilean laborers. Tinsman focuses on consumerism of Chilean laborers rather than other Chileans in order to give them agency and demonstrate that they were not just producers but consumers in this time of increasing globalism. As we have seen in the past few books, consumerism is a common topic in transnational histories of the americas during the early 20th century. Tinsman makes the argument that Pinochet’s regime cannot take full credit for necessarily increasing the economic situation of laborer families overall, but that the little money that each family had was now being spent on more “modern” goods. This is telling and I interpret it as this particular group trying to have some sort of agency in their daily lives where they are now open to a wider variety of advertisements and things to buy. Not to mention the fact that the family money was now not just in the hands of men but of women, who themselves wanted to assert their place in a neoliberal economic society as well. As one of the laborers said: “During Allende’s time we had money but nothing to buy, with Pinochet we have little money and so many things we can buy” (paraphrasing).
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