Research Interests: Environmental history; labor history; political economy, race and capitalism; science and technology; Caribbean history; U.S. in the world.
Jordan Howell studies the history of U.S. capitalism in global context, with a focus on labor, technology, race and the environment. His dissertation, “Imperial Crucible: A History of Alcoa in the Americas,” is a working-class and political-economic history of the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) in the twentieth century. In pursuit of cheap labor and raw materials, Alcoa built communities, mines, refineries, dams, and smelters across the United States and Caribbean, turning aluminum into the most widely consumed nonferrous metal. While the expansion of aluminum production depended on cooperation among politicians and capitalists, it also led to struggles between workers and bosses, peasants and mineral prospectors, and state planners and industrialists. I argue that the company’s global towns and workplaces were more than just linked sites of production. They shared a history as one imperial crucible.
B.A., M.A., University of British Columbia