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Four Fitting In Relocating Family and Capital within the Nineteenth-Century Atlantic World Economy: The Brazilian Connection LauraJarnagin In chapter 2, we were presented with an eyewitness account of the Smith's family migration to Brazil. This chapter seeks to place the drama of the relocation of Southerners to Brazil in the post-Civil War era in a broader context. In brief, we will observe and assess the relocation of families, like the Smith family, within the greater scheme of the capitalist world system, particularly as it manifested itself in the Atlantic region of the nineteenth century. Taking into account various "push" and "pull" factors, plus the characteristics of the migrating population itself, along with its supporters and promoters in Brazil, we find an internal logic to the phenomenon that tends to escape us at smaller scales. In fact, we discover a continuum of capitalist behavior contained herein that transcends national borders and leaves us with an enhanced understanding of what is too often seen as historical oddity. Broadening the Historical Horizon: The Modern World-System Perspective The modern world system, as elaborated by Immanuel Wallerstein, is a theoretical construct which is particularly well suited for placing the migration of postbellum Southerners in its more proper perspective, away from being an anomalous quirk in U.S. history and into the mainstream of the borderless nineteenth-century capitalism of the Atlantic world economy. It provides a conceptually well-situated vantage point from which to view not just the actions of a small group of people at a given moment in time but the very socioeconomic processes of which they, their forebears, and their descendants were a part. In so doing, the Southern migration becomes not 66 Fitting In a sideshow freak in the carnival of U.S. history but a leading actor at center stage. Although the essential features of the world-system theory are widely familiar to scholars in history and the social sciences, an abbreviated summary of it is appropriate here.' In essence, the modern world-system approach seeks to describe and explain the dynamics of capitalism, from its earliest stirrings in Western Europe over 500 years ago to its all-encompassing dominance of today's global economy, not simply as an economic system , but as an imbricated system of economy, polity, and society.2 Within this system, there are differentiated zones of capitalist activity, which can be broadly divided into core states and peripheral areas. Core states are characterized economically by a higher degree ofvariety and specialization of goods and services, more highly skilled labor, and higher concentrations of financial resources; and politically by stronger, more centralized states. In short, they are the command center of the capitalist system, largely determining what, where, and how goods and services will be produced . Peripheral areas, by contrast, tend toward monoculturalism and less skilled labor; in essence, they gear their production to meet the demands of core states.3 As the capitalist system evolved and geographically spread outward from its European epicenter, it incorporated outlying areas, initially only select portions of Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America , and ultimately these regions in their entirety. As a dynamic system, capitalism has been and continues to be characterized by ongoing cycles of expansion and contraction. The locus of the core of capitalism itself has shifted over time, with first one then another state dominating for varying intervals. In the mid-nineteenth century, however , Great Britain was the unchallenged prepotent center of the capitalist world system. The Americas, with the exception of the Northern states of the United States, were part of its periphery, engaged primarily in the production of raw materials.4 In turn, the economies of the periphery were dominated by an agrarian-based capitalism, producing surpluses that were sold elsewhere throughout the system. While the broad characteristics of the capitalist world system are known to us, we are less familiar with how individuals acted in the system, perpetuated it, caused it to expand and mutate-in short, how individuals simultaneously contributed to its dynamism and were the unwitting agents of forces far beyond their control, or even the control of any given country. We do know that as the system became more refined and specialized, it required-directly or indirectly-the services of a broad spectrum of skilled occupations and professions: landed capitalist proprietors and well- 68 Jarnagin to-do farmers (who in many respects were lay scientists, engineers, and business managers rolled into one); merchants, large and small...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780817389024
Related ISBN
9780817309442
MARC Record
OCLC
45730752
Pages
288
Launched on MUSE
2016-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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