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How industrialization undid a region in Mexico
Scholars once treated regions as fundamental units of social organization, influencing the affairs of communities and households. Chris Kyle renews that perspective by charting the history of a preindustrial region in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero. Examining the city of Chilapa and its surrounding countryside, he documents a region’s initial formation, subsequent evolution, and ultimate dissolution, brought about by the forces of industrialization.
Feeding Chilapa traces the emergence of Chilapa as a textile center in the late eighteenth century, the reorganization of the city’s hinterland in the mid-nineteenth century, and the ultimate dissolution of the region in the mid-twentieth century. When improved transportation enabled the movement of cheap goods over long distances, subsistence and artisanal production declined or disappeared, and labor relations, settlement geography, and migration patterns were transformed. Kyle offers a new perspective on the immigration debate, exploring the factors that lead rural citizens to leave economically depressed regions for larger Mexican cities, border industries, or the United States.
Written to be accessible to undergraduates, this volume offers a counterpoint to traditional community-based studies and our understanding of change in Latin America.
Chris Kyle is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and author of numerous scholarly articles on rural Mexico.