The first comprehensive survey of the global history of industrial hazards and their control


Dangerous Trade

Histories of Industrial Hazard across a Globalizing World

edited by Christopher Sellers and Joseph Melling

paper EAN: 978-1-43990-469-5 (ISBN: 1-43990-469-3)
$31.95, Dec 11, Available
cloth EAN: 978-1-43990-468-8 (ISBN: 1-43990-468-5)
$90.50, Dec 11, Available
Electronic Book EAN: 978-1-43990-470-1 (ISBN: 1-43990-470-7)
228 pp 6x9 9 tables 2 map(s) 4 figures

"No other work addresses industrial hazards with such geographic breadth and historical depth. Together, the essays in Dangerous Trade offer a damning indictment of capitalism's impact on working people and the environments in which they have labored and lived. Just as importantly, Dangerous Trade also makes a compelling case regarding the role of workers' movements in improving public health in and beyond the workplace. This book, in short, offers something new to a range of practitioners and academics."
Thomas Andrews, University of Colorado at Boulder

From anthrax to asbestos to pesticides, industrial toxins and pollutants have troubled the world for the past century and longer. Environmental hazards from industry remain one of the world's foremost killers. Dangerous Trade establishes historical groundwork for a better understanding of how and why these hazards continue to threaten our shrinking world.

In this timely collection, an international group of scholars casts a rigorous eye towards efforts to combat these ailments. Dangerous Trade contains a wide range of case studies that illuminate transnational movements of risk—from the colonial plantations of Indonesia to compensation laws in late 19th century Britain, and from the occupational medicine clinics of 1960s New York City to the burning of electronic waste in early twenty-first century Uruguay.

The essays in Dangerous Trade provide an unprecedented broad perspective of the dangers stirred up by industrial activity across the globe, as well as the voices raised to remedy them.


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"Dangerous Trade argues persuasively for examining transnational or post-national histories of industrial health and pollution, and considers the unique nature of specific labor and environmental policies at different times and in different places. The essays are innovative and make valuable contributions to the larger, cohesive work, while the volume as a collective whole provides a critical vantage point for further inquiry into this important topic and how we might approach it."
Michael Egan, McMaster University

"The authors' backgrounds run the gamut from anthropology to medicine, so the authors offer diverse perspectives on both the history of industrial pollution and the current state of these problems across the globe. The nations discussed range from developing countries like Malaysia, Nigeria, and Mexico to more developed nations like France, Spain, and Italy. The array of problems considered is also broad, including, for example, rubber plantations, liquefied natural gas, oil, asbestos, and mercury. This book is a fine account of some international problems in industrial health and is especially valuable for undergraduate collections that support environmental programs. Summing Up: Highly Recommended."

"[A] compelling collection of essays that provides integral groundwork for understanding our contemporary globalized industrial hazards.... These essays show the challenges confronting our contemporary globalized industrial hazard situation including scientific and lay knowledge production and the translation of resistance to regulation.... Together these essays provide an important foundation for looking at industrial hazards on a larger geographic scope and through a wider interdisciplinary lens."
Environmental History

"[T]he editors have written an introduction and final chapter (with Barry Castleman) that provide a useful framework.... Sellers and Melling frame their new collection as studies of various aspects of the 'industrial hazard regime' in a 'globalizing' world—including social, economic, and legal as well as scientific dimensions.... New case and/or country studies are of interest, and this book provides some interesting papers."

"The editors tie the various essays together in an interesting introduction, arguing that unlike earlier studies that focus on stories bounded by the geopolitical boundaries, the history of industrial disease demands an international, perhaps global perspective.... [T]he chapters reflect the diversity of interests and approaches and provide a useful addition to a rapidly expanding literature on occupational and environmental disease. It is a serious and thoughtful effort to trace the global dimensions of the environmental damage caused by unrestrained industries."
The Bulletin of the History of Medicine

"Dangerous Trade is an audacious book that incorporates multiple themes, areas, and periods into a collection of unusually short essays, which add up to much more than the sum of their parts. Far more than in most edited collections, the chapters address common themes and engage in fruitful dialogue, while the conclusion mines the collection for patterns and new questions.... The case studies laid out in the chapters and synthesized in the conclusion offer a number of provocative and useful ways to deepen and rethink business, labor, environmental, industrial, social, medical, and transnational histories."
Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas


List of Tables and Figures

Introduction: From Dangerous Trades to Trade in Dangers: Toward an Industrial Hazard History of the Present / Christopher Sellers and Joseph Melling

Part I: The Late Nineteenth Century to the Early Twentieth Century

Creating Industrial Hazards in the Developing World
1. Rubber Plantation Workers, Work Hazards, and Health in Colonial Malaya, 1900–1940 / Amarjit Kaur
2. Work, Home, and Natural Environments: Health and Safety in the Mexican Oil Industry, 1900–1938 / Myrna Santiago

Knowing and Controlling in the Developed World
3. Global Markets and Local Conflicts in Mercury Mining: Industrial Restructuring and Workplace Hazards at the Almaden Mines in the Early Twentieth Century / Alfredo Menéndez-Navarro
4. Trade, Spores, and the Culture of Disease: Attempts to Regulate Anthrax in Britain and Its International Trade, 1875–1930 / Tim Carter and Joseph Melling
5. Rayon, Carbon Disulfide, and the Emergence of the Multinational Corporation in Occupational Disease / Paul D. Blanc

Part II: The Middle to the Late Twentieth Century

New Transfers of Production
6. Shipping the “Next Prize”: The Trade in Liquefied Natural Gas from Nigeria to Mexico / Anna Zalik
7. New Hazards and Old Disease: Lead Contamination and the Uruguayan Battery Industry / Daniel E. Renfrew

New Knowledge and Coalitions
8. Objective Collectives? Transnationalism and “Invisible Colleges” in Occupational and Environmental Health from Collis to Selikoff / Joseph Melling and Christopher Sellers
9. Bread and Poison: The Story of Labor Environmentalism in Italy, 1968–1998 / Stefania Barca
10. A New Environmental Turn? How the Environment Came to the Rescue of Occupational Health: Asbestos in France c. 1970–1995 / Emmanuel Henry

New Arenas of Contest
11. A Tale of Two Lawsuits: Making Policy-Relevant Environmental Health Knowledge in Italian and U.S. Chemical Regions / Barbara Allen
12. Pesticide Regulation, Citizen Action, and Toxic Trade: The Role of the Nation-State in the Transnational History of DBCP / Susanna Rankin Bohme
13. Turning the Tide: The Struggle for Compensation for Asbestos-Related Diseases and the Banning of Asbestos / Barry Castleman and Geoffrey Tweedale

Conclusion / Joseph Melling and Christopher Sellers, with Barry Castleman



About the Author(s)

Christopher Sellers is an Associate Professor of History at Stony Brook University. He is the author of Hazards of the Job: From Industrial Disease to Environmental Health Science and Crabgrass Crucible: Suburban Nature and the Rise of Environmentalism in Twentieth-Century America.

Joseph Melling is Director of the Centre for Medical History at the University of Exeter. He is the coauthor (with Bill Forsythe) of The Politics of Madness and (with Alan Booth) of Making the Modern Workplace.

Subject Categories

Nature and the Environment
Labor Studies and Work


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