44 minutes | May 20, 2021

Amanda Ciafone, "Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation" (U California Press, 2019)

Today I talked to Amanda Ciafone's (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) about her book Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation (University of California Press, 2019). Counter-Cola charts the history of one of the world’s most influential and widely known corporations, The Coca-Cola Company. Over the past 130 years, the corporation has sought to make its products, brands, and business central to daily life in over 200 countries. Amanda Ciafone uses this example of global capitalism to reveal the pursuit of corporate power within the key economic transformations—liberal, developmentalist, neoliberal—of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Coca-Cola's success has not gone uncontested. People throughout the world have redeployed the corporation, its commodities, and brand images to challenge the injustices of daily life under capitalism. As Ciafone shows, assertions of national economic interests, critiques of cultural homogenization, fights for workers’ rights, movements for environmental justice, and debates over public health have obliged the corporation to justify itself in terms of the common good, demonstrating capitalism’s imperative to either assimilate critiques or reveal its limits. 

This book is a great source to study the history of globalization and global capitalism through the analysis of the particular history of the US-headquartered and textbook case multinational, the Coca-Cola Company, through the twentieth century. Counter-Cola looks at how the strategies of the multinational company, mostly devised at its headquarters in Atlanta, Giorgia, developed in Colombia and India as nationalism, financial dependency, workers’ unrest, social movements, and health considerations unfolded and were opposed to the overarching and assumed benefits of the multinational in both locations. Amanda Ciafone is a cultural historian of capitalism, especially interested in culture industries and the role of the media in constructing meaning around economic and social relations.

Check out Professor Ciafone’s additional and research materials related to her book Counter-Cola: A Multinational History of the Global Corporation that are available in a digitally accessible Scalar companion that is available on her faculty profile website.

Paula De La Cruz-Fernandez is an economic and business historian. Author of Gendered Capitalism: Sewing Machines and Multinational Business in Spain and Mexico, 1850-1940 (Routledge 2021)

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