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Brazilian Steel Town: Machines, Land, Money and Commoning in the Making of the Working Class

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Volume 27


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Brazilian Steel Town

Machines, Land, Money and Commoning in the Making of the Working Class

Massimiliano Mollona

334 pages, 21 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-433-9 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (November 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78920-434-6 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


Brazilian Steel Town is a lyrical description of Latin America’s largest integrated steel mill – an ethnography of its flexible workplace that traces the precariatization of a working class, embedded in a turbulent history of state ownership and privatization, all tied into the context of national politics and world capitalism. Ethnography at its best and most visionary.” • Michael Burawoy, University of California, Berkeley.

“Based on an outstanding ethnographic work, Brazilian Steel Town presents an accurate and complex picture of the Brazilian working-class experience in its multiple dimensions including of the social relations at the factory level and in the city of Volta Redonda. The book is an original and sensitive account of the development of capitalism in the country.” • José Ricardo Ramalho, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ).

“This is an excellent book…The case of Volta Redonda presented here, I believe, will be of interest to many engaged in the study of labour, heavy industries, and global capitalism at this current moment in time.” • Elisabeth Schober, University of Oslo

“This is an impressive book that is ethnographically rich, insightful and theoretically rigorous. It addresses important questions on the transformations of industry, workers, livelihoods and states in developing nations during different periods of global economic restructuring and particularly under the imperatives of the financialization of economies and polities.” • Winnie Lem, Trent University


Volta Redonda is a Brazilian steel town founded in the 1940s by dictator Getúlio Vargas on an ex-coffee valley as a powerful symbol of Brazilian modernization. The city’s economy, and consequently its citizen’s lives, revolves around the Companha Siderurgica Nacional (CSN), the biggest industrial complex in Latin America. Although the glory days of the CSN have long passed, the company still controls life in Volta Redonda today, creating as much dispossession as wealth for the community. Brazilian Steel Town tells the story of the people tied to this ailing giant – of their fears, hopes, and everyday struggles.

Massimiliano Mollona is Senior Lecturer at Goldsmiths College, London, where he teaches Economic and Political Anthropology and Art and Anthropology. Among his publications are Made in Sheffield, an Ethnography of Industrial Work and Politics (2009, Berghahn) and with Don Kalb, Worldwide Mobilizations : Class Struggles and Urban Commoning (2018, Berghahn).

Subject: Anthropology (General) Urban Studies Sociology Political and Economic Anthropology
Area: Latin America and the Caribbean


List of Figures
List of Abbreviations

Introduction: Brazilian Steel-Town and the Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional (CSN)

Chapter 1. Capital Enclosures, Labour Abstraction and the Struggle over Value Forms
Chapter 2. Cyclops at Work: Capital as Technology
Chapter 3. Old and New Land Questions: Capital as Land
Chapter 4. Of Ants and Steelworkers: Capital as Labor
Chapter 5. The Invention of People’s Money: Capital as Money
Chapter 6. Labor as Commons

Conclusion: Towards an Anthropology of Uneven and Combined Development


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