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Dundee and the Empire

‘Juteopolis’ 1850-1939

Jim Tomlinson

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Dundee as a globalized and globalizing city in the early 20th century

How did the people of Dundee respond to the challenges of being the most economically globalized city in the world in the years before the First World War?

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List of tables
Part I
Chapter 1: The rise of juteopolis
Chapter 2: Juteopolis and imperial globalisation
Chapter 3: The employers’ response
Chapter 4: The workers’ response
Chapter 5: The politics of Dundee: the 1906 and 1908 elections
Part II
Chapter 6. War, recession and the response on the Left
Chapter 7: Conservatism, protection and empire in the 1930s
Chapter 8: The empire strikes back: responding to crisis in the 1930s
Chapter 9: Aftermath and conclusions.

About the Author

Jim Tomlinson is Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow. Professor Tomlinson is also the author of many works on economic history, including Jute No More; Transforming Dundee (DUP, 2011); The Labour Governments 1964-1970 (Manchester University Press, 2004) and Government and the Enterprise Since 1900 (Oxford University Press, 1994).


'Tomlinson employs rich archival materials, particularly those of the Dundee Chamber of Commerce, the minutes of the local union of jute and flax workers (the DDUJFW), and the Dundee Year Book, along with contemporary newspaper coverage of events, in order to gauge public opinion of the industry and to measure how jute production impacted and was impacted by the city’s links to London and to the empire…Tomlinson also raises some excellent ideas about the complex relationships between class, gender, and imperialism, as they were borne out in Juteopolis and possibly how they can be extrapolated from there. In doing so he reveals how the local intersected with the national and the imperial levels in driving, or attempting to manipulate, British responses to changing circumstances, and how this impacted the everyday lives of Britons…a concise and detailed analysis of how one city’s fortunes rose and fell with those of Britain and the empire, how it responded to these changes and challenges, and how it attempted – albeit unsuccessfully – to shape Britain’s response to them.'

- Timothy Forest, University of Cincinnati, Blue Ash, H-Net Reviews, H-Empire

'Tomlinson brings his enormous scholarship to bear on the problems faced by Dundee and points to a clear failure of political leadership, both at local and national levels, to build a consensus as to how best to respond to the challenges of globalisation in which a high-wage economy competes with a low-wage economy. This is the very problem experienced today by modernised western economies faced with competition from low-waged countries such as China. Thus Dundee’s experience is instructive and interesting in the light that it throws on such issues.'

- W. W. J. Knox, University of St Andrews, English Historical Review, vol 130, no 545

Bringing the global and imperial dimensions into clear focus gives a clearer appreciation of the decline and collapse of ‘Juteopolis’, and the impotence of its political leadership in the face of Indian competition. It is a sobering story lucidly and powerfully told, and one to which Jim Tomlinson brings huge expertise.

- Bob Harris, Worcester College, University of Oxford