Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet

About this Episode


The rural roads that led to our planet-changing global economy ran through the American South. Acclaimed scholar Bart Elmore explores that region's impact on the interconnected histories of business and ecological change. He uses the histories of five southern firms—Coca-Cola, Delta Airlines, Walmart, FedEx and Bank of America—to investigate the environmental impact of our have-it-now, fly-by-night, buy-on-credit global economy.

Drawing on exclusive interviews with company executives, corporate archives and other records, Elmore explores the historical, economic, and ecological conditions that gave rise to these five trailblazing corporations. He then considers what each has become: an essential presence in the daily workings of the global economy and an unmistakable contributor to the reshaping of the world's ecosystems. Even as businesses invest in sustainability initiatives and respond to new calls for corporate responsibility, Elmore shows the limits of their efforts to “green” their operations and offers insights on how governments and activists can push corporations to do better.


Bart Elmore, Professor of Environmental History and Core Faculty, Sustainability Institute, The Ohio State University.
Nicholas Breyfogle (Moderator), Associate Professor of History and Director, Goldberg Center for Excellence in Teaching, The Ohio State University.

Cite this Site

Bart Elmore , "Country Capitalism: How Corporations from the American South Remade Our Economy and the Planet" , Origins: Current Events in Historical Perspective
October, 2023
October, 2023

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