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UNIT 19: Global Industrialization

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VIDEO SEGMENT: Transforming Sugar Plantations in Cuba

In Latin America, industrialization-in the form of railroad construction and production for overseas markets-often resulted in exploitation both by powerful, imperial nations and by elites within each country who hoped to profit from the fruits of industrialism. This segment uses the expansion of sugar plantations in nineteenth-century Cuba to explore this phenomenon.

In the years between 1850 and 1870, foreign investment-which brought in new sugar production techniques and a dramatic expansion of railroad construction-led to remarkable growth in the Cuban economy. Cuban planters, unable to recruit enough local labor, imported tens of thousands of Chinese contract laborers to work the new sugar plantations-thus increasing their own social power. Cuban planters also imported investors and technical experts from Europe and North America to manage the use of new techniques and machines, and to oversee railroad construction.

However, the net effect of this practice was to increase Cuban dependency on powerful, industrial countries. Moreover, the very promotion of sugar plantations served to bind the Cuban economy ever more closely to a global economy that often extracted goods and services from less powerful countries for the benefit of the most powerful industrial nations.

SELECTED IMAGES AND MAPS


Thomas Arnold McKibbin, THE FIRST STEAM ENGINE (1801). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

F. Carrandi, CANE CUTTING MACHINES IN SAN ISIDRO SUGAR MILL, SAGUA LA GRANDE, CUBA (1920). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.


Anonymous, CANE CUTTERS ON A CUBAN SUGAR PLANTATION (c. 1900). Courtesy of The Library of Congress.

Anonymous, CUTTING CANE ON A CUBAN SUGAR PLANTATION (1904). Courtesy of the Library of Congress.



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