September History Book Club
Led by Lowell Gudmundson (PhD ‘82), professor emeritus of Latin American studies and history at Mount Holyoke College, and Patrick McNamara, associate professor of Latin American and Mexican history at the University of Minnesota.
What is the History Book Club?
The History Book Club is a monthly event series that brings together alumni, faculty, students, and friends of the history department to engage virtually with our faculty and graduates, and learn about their recently published books.
Do I need to read the book to attend this gathering?
You do not! Our History Book Club gatherings are designed to be enjoyed by any history-lover, whether or not you’ve read the featured book.
About the Book
Costa Rica After Coffee: The Co-op Era in History and Memory
(LSU Press, October 2021)
Costa Rica After Coffee explores the political, social, and economic place occupied by the coffee industry in contemporary Costa Rican history. In this follow-up to the 1986 classic Costa Rica Before Coffee, Lowell Gudmundson delves deeply into archival sources, alongside the individual histories of key coffee-growing families, to explore the development of the co-op movement, the rise of the gourmet coffee market, and the societal transformations Costa Rica has undergone as a result of the coffee industry’s powerful presence in the country.
While Costa Rican coffee farmers and co-ops experienced a golden age in the 1970s and 1980s, the emergence and expansion of a gourmet coffee market in the 1990s drastically reduced harvest volumes. Meanwhile, urbanization and improved education among the Costa Rican population threatened the continuance of family coffee farms, because of the lack of both farmland and a successor generation of farmers. As the last few decades have seen a rise in tourism and other industries within the country, agricultural exports like coffee have ceased to occupy the same crucial space in the Costa Rican economy. Gudmundson argues that the fulfillment of promises of reform from the co-op era had the paradoxical effect of challenging the endurance of the coffee industry.
About the Hosts
Lowell Gudmundson (PhD ‘82) is a professor emeritus of history and Latin American studies at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Costa Rica Before Coffee: Society and Economy on the Eve of the Economic Boom; coauthor of Central America, 1821–1871: Liberalism Before Liberal Reform; coeditor of Blacks and Blackness in Central America: Between Race and Place; and Coffee, Society, and Power in Latin America.
Jason McGrath is a professor of Chinese literature and culture with the University of Minnesota’s Asian and Middle Eastern studies department, where he also serves as their director of undergraduate studies. He teaches courses on Chinese literature and culture, particularly Chinese film, which is where much of his research interest lies. His most recent book, Chinese Film: Realism and Convention from the Silent Era to the Digital Age was published last year.