Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Frontier enterprise: Immigrant winemaking in Mendoza, Argentina (1884–1914)
by Bajwa, Uttam, Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University, 2012, 289; 3532404
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation I examine the strategies Southern European immigrants to Mendoza, Argentina undertook to establish themselves in the social, cultural, and economic life of the Province of Mendoza and specifically in the wine industry. Taking advantage of new possibilities enabled by late-nineteenth century transportation, demographic, and financial transformations, immigrant winemakers were flexible, creative entrepreneurs in an emerging industry. I argue that newcomers entered the Mendoza wine industry with relative ease and overcame institutional barriers to participation in the industry, by exploiting established networks of information about economic opportunities in Mendoza; by participating in a contract-labor system that gave preference to immigrant families; and most importantly, by creating businesses and business networks based on place of origin and the family. They were part of larger networks of family, place-of-origin, residential, and professional relationships that were essential to their incorporation into Mendoza and the wine industry.

Looking at the vineyards and bodegas of newcomers to Argentina demonstrates ways people used social networks and other "non-market" relationships to successfully compensate for the weak banking system and limited institutional support for businesses. Newcomers effectively reworked existing institutions to meet their changing needs in spite of a relatively conservative legal context for doing business. In doing so, immigrant winemakers showed a remarkable ability to adapt to Mendoza, perhaps most striking in the upward mobility of the largest-scale immigrant winemakers into the province's elite. Relying on a range of primary sources, especially notarized contracts, government reports, and newspapers, this dissertation shows that winemaking immigrants and their Argentine peers positioned themselves consciously—and in the end mostly successfully—to exploit the business opportunities available to them.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Knight, Franklin W.
Commitee: Casro-Kiazen, Sara, Galambos, Louis, Portuondo, Maria, Vinson, Ben, III
School: The Johns Hopkins University
Department: History
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 74/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Latin American history
Keywords: Argentina, Business history, Immigration, Mendoza, Regional development, Wine
Publication Number: 3532404
ISBN: 978-1-267-75239-0
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