Uttam Bajwa

  • Fellowship year:2009-2010
  • University: Johns Hopkins University
  • Dissertation Topic/Category: Latin America
  • Dissertation Title: Immigrant Family Firms in the Mendoza Wine Industry, 1884-1914
  • My dissertation looks at the role of mostly Italian, French, and Spanish immigrants to Argentina in the development of the country’s wine economy. I argue that immigrants were able to enter the Mendoza wine industry with relative ease and overcome 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.

    The formation of immigrant family firms was a distinctive characteristic of the Mendoza wine-industry and one important way wine-producers responded to the lack of infrastructure and to the economic instability of the period between 1884 and 1914. Labor contracts were one way wine-makers expanded production in the 1880s, established a stable labor force in a region historically characterized by mobile labor, and encouraged the growth of a specialized, immigrant workforce. The contract system was an important factor in the first generation of newcomers’ ability to enter the wine-industry because the system provided opportunities for capital accumulation, acquiring experience in wine production, the formation of business networks, and encouraged family-based production.