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In the late nineteenth century, Mexican citizens quickly adopted new technologies imported from abroad to sew cloth, manufacture glass bottles, refine minerals, and provide many goods and services. Rapid technological change supported economic growth and also brought cultural change and social dislocation.
Drawing on three detailed case studies—the sewing machine, a glass bottle–blowing factory, and the cyanide process for gold and silver refining—Edward Beatty explores a central paradox of economic growth in nineteenth-century Mexico: while Mexicans made significant efforts to integrate new machines and products, difficulties in assimilating the skills required to use emerging technologies resulted in a persistent dependence on international expertise.
Edward Beatty is Associate Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame and the author of Institutions and Investment: The Political Basis of Industrialization in Mexico before 1911.
"Beatty’s book is a groundbreaking study, a tour de force that should be required reading for anyone interested in economic development or the history of technology in the nineteenth-century Atlantic world."—American Historical Review
“Edward Beatty’s exemplary archival research and superb synthesis of disparate materials illuminate new aspects of Mexican economic history.”—Richard J. Salvucci, author of Politics, Markets, and Mexico's "London Debt," 1823–1887
"This is a scholarly, readable, and highly original study of a major—but neglected—historical topic: technology transfer and its impact on Mexico, ca. 1870–1920. Combining perceptive general analysis with three illuminating case studies, it will be essential—but also enjoyable—reading for those interested in Mexican and, more broadly, Latin American economic and social history."—Alan Knight, Professor Emeritus of the History of Latin America, Oxford University