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  A Short History of the Society and the Site

 

Marcelo Bucheli and Ian Read began the society seven years ago.  At that time, Wikipedia was in its infancy and there were few good sources of information on the web about the United Fruit Company.  But there were many people in the United States, the Caribbean, and Central America who had worked for the company, taken a trip on one of its "banana boats," or had used one of its ships during the Second World War.  The need for more information, easily available through the internet was, and is still, great.


Marcelo and Ian both researched the fruit company while working toward graduate degrees at Stanford University and the University of Chicago.  This was a busy time for both of us and we worked on the society when we could.  Marcelo deserves the most credit for all of his work on the biographies and timeline, and for going through the paperwork to get the society up and running.  Marcelo graduated from Stanford University with a Ph.D. in history in 2002.  Ian followed with the same degree four years later.  Marcelo moved between San Francisco and Cambridge, MA, and then finally to his current position as Assistant Professor the University of Illionois at Urbana-Champaign.  Ian moved north to the Seattle area before returning to California to begin a position as Assistant Professor at Soka University of America in Orange County.  Between the stresses of job searches, new projects, article writing, book contracts, and work toward tenure review, we have often done less work on the society than we might have hoped.

Nevertheless, we are proud that the site continues to be useful to the thousands of visitors that it has received.  We still believe in its fundamental purpose:  to disseminate information about the actions of a powerful fruit company and the many people who made the production, marketing, and distribution of billions of bananas and other products possible.  The company has a "lively" history, to say the least.  To many, it was a bastion of imperialism, a perpetuator of human rights abuses, and the catalyst for "banana republics."  For others, it was the means for a romantic tropical cruise, a source of navy ships that helped America's victory in WWII, or a life of dedication to a Boston-based company that was immersed in Latin American politics and culture.  The company and the general topic of U.S. capitalism in Latin America are historically rich and we expect that people will continue to debate the meaning of these things for many generations to come.  For this reason, we remain dedicated to improving this site when we get a chance.  We are open to new society members as long as you believe you can make a strong and long-lasting contribution.



© United Fruit Historical Society, 2001-2009