What We Are Reading Today: Forging Global Fordism by Stefan J. Link

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Updated 30 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Forging Global Fordism by Stefan J. Link

As the US rose to ascendancy in the first decades of the 20th century, observers abroad associated American economic power most directly with its burgeoning automobile industry. In the 1930s, in a bid to emulate and challenge America, engineers from across the world flocked to Detroit. Chief among them were Nazi and Soviet specialists who sought to study, copy, and sometimes steal the techniques of American automotive mass production, or Fordism. Forging Global Fordism traces how Germany and the Soviet Union embraced Fordism amid widespread economic crisis and ideological turmoil. 

This incisive book recovers the crucial role of activist states in global industrial transformations and reconceives the global thirties as an era of intense competitive development, providing a new genealogy of the postwar industrial order.

Stefan Link uncovers the forgotten origins of Fordism in Midwestern populism, and shows how Henry Ford’s antiliberal vision of society appealed to both the Soviet and Nazi regimes.

He explores how they positioned themselves as America’s antagonists in reaction to growing American hegemony and seismic shifts in the global economy during the interwar years, and shows how Detroit visitors like William Werner, Ferdinand Porsche, and Stepan Dybets helped spread versions of Fordism abroad and mobilize them in total war.

Forging Global Fordism challenges the notion that global mass production was a product of post–World War II liberal internationalism, demonstrating how it first began in the global thirties, and how the spread of Fordism had a distinctly illiberal trajectory.


What We Are Reading Today: Republics of Knowledge by Nicola Miller

Updated 22 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Republics of Knowledge by Nicola Miller

The rise of nation-states is a hallmark of the modern age, yet we are still untangling how the phenomenon unfolded across the globe. Here, Nicola Miller offers new insights into the process of nation-making through an account of 19th-century Latin America, where, she argues, the identity of nascent republics was molded through previously underappreciated means: The creation and sharing of knowledge.

Drawing evidence from Argentina, Chile, and Peru, Republics of Knowledge traces the histories of these countries from the early 1800s, as they gained independence, to their centennial celebrations in the 20th century. Miller identifies how public exchange of ideas affected policymaking, the emergence of a collective identity, and more. She finds that instead of defining themselves through language or culture, these new nations united citizens under the promise of widespread access to modern information. Miller challenges the narrative that modernization was a strictly North Atlantic affair, demonstrating that knowledge traveled both ways between Latin America and Europe.