Córdoba is Argentina’s second-largest city, a university town that became the center of its automobile industry. In the decade following the overthrow of Juan Perón’s government in 1955, the city experienced rapid industrial growth. The arrival of IKA-Renault and Fiat fostered a particular kind of industrial development and created a new industrial worker of predominantly rural origins. Former farm boys and small-town dwellers were thrust suddenly into the world of the modern factory and the multinational corporation.
The domination of the local economy by a single industry and the prominent role played by the automobile workers’ unions brought about the greatest working-class protest in postwar Latin American history, the 1969 Cordobazo. Following the Cordobazo, the local labor movement was one characterized by intense militancy and determined opposition to both authoritarian military governments and the Peronist trade union bureaucracy. These labor wars have been mythologized as a Latin American equivalent to the French student strikes of May–June 1968 and the Italian “hot summer” of the same period. Analyzing these events in the context of recent debates on Latin American working-class politics, James Brennan demonstrates that the pronounced militancy and even political radicalism of the Cordoban working class were due not only to Argentina’s changing political culture but also to the dynamic relationship between the factory and society during those years.
Brennan draws on corporate archives in Argentina, France, and Italy, as well as previously unknown union archives. Readers interested in Latin American studies, labor history, industrial relations, political science, industrial sociology, and international business will all find value in this important analysis of labor politics.
The complexity of labor politics, forged in the heat of changing work practices, and spilling over into confrontations with employers and the state, is clearly explored here… This is an important antidote to Argentine and Latin American tendencies to rely on broad, national-level generalizations. Moreover, for nonspecialists in Argentine or Latin American history, the theme and approach tackled here will provide new avenues for rethinking working-class activity.
An important and well-researched study that offers its readers a detailed account of the rapid development of the Cordoban working class. James Brennan ably demonstrates that the militancy and political radicalism of the workers in the Cordoban region of central Argentina were due not only to the dramatic changes taking place in Argentina’s political culture, but also to the dynamic relationship between the factory and society during these years from the fall of the first government of Juan Perón to his return and resumption of power.
- 456 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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