This study of working-class formation in the central Andes mining region represents an exciting new contribution to the growing literature on Latin American labor movements. Within a tightly structured conceptual framework, the authors detail the growth of working-class consciousness in the environment of a multinational enclave.

The book’s thematic focus is the evolution of an autonomous working-class movement that reflected the material conditions of the miners and formulated a class-based ideology aimed at the restructuring of Peruvian society. This proletarian vanguard emerged from a decades-long struggle against a series of external agents who sought to control or coopt the labor movement. The Cerro de Pasco Corporation gradually complemented its rudimentary control method of physically isolating the mining camps with more sophisticated techniques of labor force segmentation and stratification. The Peruvian state, meanwhile, sought to coopt the workers into an officially sanctioned system of bargaining with the multinational enterprise. National political movements, including the Partido Comunista and APRA, attempted to inject themselves as mediators between the miners and the government in order to further their own political goals. Yet the interplay of these heterogeneous forces prevented the establishment of a uniform system of control, and thus facilitated the emergence of an independent labor movement. These findings suggest that the overlapping lines of authority between the multinational and the host society may create optimum conditions for the formation of proletarian vanguards.

The book analyzes these developments with a rich supply of factual evidence. The authors draw on a treasure trove of research material, which includes company, government, and union archives; interviews; and the folklore of the central Andes. With these sources, they have created a work of substance that transcends the abstract theorizing that characterizes so much developmental literature.

As with any excellent piece of scholarship, one is left asking for even more insight and detail. The development of class consciousness after 1950 may have been linked to the company’s renovation of the production process, but the authors do not directly address this possibility. Maps of the central Andes region establishing the physical relationship between the Cerro de Pasco’s mines and the countryside from which it drew its work force would have been a helpful reference for the reader. These are minor flaws in an excellent work. The book is must reading for those concerned with working-class formation and the more general problems of underdevelopment in Latin America.