American Abyss: Savagery and Civilization in the Age of Industry

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9780801478369: American Abyss: Savagery and Civilization in the Age of Industry
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At the beginning of the twentieth century, industrialization both dramatically altered everyday experiences and shaped debates about the effects of immigration, empire, and urbanization. In American Abyss, Daniel E. Bender examines an array of sources―eugenics theories, scientific studies of climate, socialist theory, and even popular novels about cavemen―to show how intellectuals and activists came to understand industrialization in racial and gendered terms as the product of evolution and as the highest expression of civilization.

Their discussions, he notes, are echoed today by the use of such terms as the "developed" and "developing" worlds. American industry was contrasted with the supposed savagery and primitivism discovered in tropical colonies, but observers who made those claims worried that industrialization, by encouraging immigration, child and women's labor, and large families, was reversing natural selection. Factories appeared to favor the most unfit. There was a disturbing tendency for such expressions of fear to favor eugenicist "remedies."

Bender delves deeply into the culture and politics of the age of industry. Linking urban slum tourism and imperial science with immigrant better-baby contests and hoboes, American Abyss uncovers the complex interactions of turn-of-the-century ideas about race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Moreover, at a time when immigration again lies at the center of American economy and society, this book offers an alarming and pointed historical perspective on contemporary fears of immigrant laborers.

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From the Back Cover:

"In American Abyss, Daniel E. Bender traces the ways in which the supposed mastery of racial knowledge helped to constitute and validate the ideas that large industrial enterprises and empires could be successfully managed. Bender's leavening of intellectual history with the cultural, political, and social, and especially with the history of gender, shows how similar scientific ideas could undergird paeans to capital and some strains of revolutionary socialism--how they could give rise to immigrant baby contests as well as campaigns for sterilization."--David R. Roediger, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, author of Colored White: Transcending the Racial Past

About the Author:

Daniel E. Bender is Associate Professor of History and Canada Research Chair in Urban History, University of Toronto. He is the author of Sweated Work, Weak Bodies: Anti-Sweatshop Campaigns and Languages of Labor and coeditor of Sweatshop USA: The American Sweatshop in Historical and Global Perspective.

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9780801445989: American Abyss: Savagery and Civilization in the Age of Industry

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2013. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. At the beginning of the twentieth century, industrialization both dramatically altered everyday experiences and shaped debates about the effects of immigration, empire, and urbanization. In American Abyss, Daniel E. Bender examines an array of sources-eugenics theories, scientific studies of climate, socialist theory, and even popular novels about cavemen-to show how intellectuals and activists came to understand industrialization in racial and gendered terms as the product of evolution and as the highest expression of civilization.Their discussions, he notes, are echoed today by the use of such terms as the "developed" and "developing" worlds. American industry was contrasted with the supposed savagery and primitivism discovered in tropical colonies, but observers who made those claims worried that industrialization, by encouraging immigration, child and women's labor, and large families, was reversing natural selection. Factories appeared to favor the most unfit. There was a disturbing tendency for such expressions of fear to favor eugenicist "remedies."Bender delves deeply into the culture and politics of the age of industry. Linking urban slum tourism and imperial science with immigrant better-baby contests and hoboes, American Abyss uncovers the complex interactions of turn-of-the-century ideas about race, class, gender, and ethnicity. Moreover, at a time when immigration again lies at the center of American economy and society, this book offers an alarming and pointed historical perspective on contemporary fears of immigrant laborers. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780801478369

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