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The Worlding Work of the Cigarette: Tracking the Modern Girl Assemblage in the U.S. and China
November 11, 2013 @ 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Resident Fellow (2013-2014)
In the early 20th century, consumers in China considered the cigarette a foreign import from the west, but consumers in the U.S. saw it as a foreign import from the east. Because of entrenched models of globalization that assume “modern” commodities followed a west-to-east trajectory, scholars tend to remember the former but forget the latter. This talk engages the working work of the cigarette as it became key to gendered icons of modernity in China and the U.S., and explores how scholars might simultaneously illuminate and provincialize the global power of US corporations.
Nan Enstad is a historian of the transnational US, with specialization in gender, race and the cultural history of capitalism. Her primary interest is illuminating the cultural instantiation of capitalist power in the form of the modern corporation, branding, and consumer practices and subjectivities. She is the author of Ladies of Labor, Girls of Adventure: Popular Culture and Labor Politics at the Turn of the 20th Century (1999) and is currently completing a cultural history of multinational cigarette corporations in the U.S. and China which will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2015.