Farming across Borders: A Transnational History of the North American West

Farming across Borders: A Transnational History of the North American West


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Farming across Borders uses agricultural history to connect the regional experiences of the American West, northern Mexico, western Canada, and the North American side of the Pacific Rim, now writ large into a broad history of the North American West. Case studies of commodity production and distribution, trans-border agricultural labor, and environmental change unite to reveal new perspectives on a historiography traditionally limited to a regional approach.

Sterling Evans has curated nineteen essays to explore the contours of “big” agricultural history. Crops and commodities discussed include wheat, cattle, citrus, pecans, chiles, tomatoes, sugar beets, hops, henequen, and more. Toiling over such crops, of course, were the people of the North American West, and as such, the contributing authors investigate the role of agricultural labor, from braceros and Hutterites to women working in the sorghum fields and countless other groups in between.

As Evans concludes, “society as a whole (no matter in what country) often ignores the role of agriculture in the past and the present.” Farming across Borders takes an important step toward cultivating awareness and understanding of the agricultural, economic, and environmental connections that loom over the North American West regardless of lines on a map. In the words of one essay, “we are tied together . . . in a hundred different ways.”

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781623495688
Publisher: Texas A&M University Press
Publication date: 10/26/2017
Series: Connecting the Greater West Series
Pages: 488
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

STERLING EVANS holds the Louise Welsh Chair in Oklahoma, Southern Plains, and Borderlands History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author or editor of four books, including Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880–1950. He resides in Norman, Oklahoma.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Transnational Agricultural History in the North American West Sterling Evans xv

Part I Agricultural Connections across North America 1

1 Dependent Harvests: Grain Production on the American and Canadian Plains and the Double Dependency with Mexico, 1880-1950 Sterling Evans 3

2 Meat in the Middle: Converging Borderlands in the US Midwest, 1865-1900 Kristin Hoganson 29

3 Little Liberia: The African American Agricultural Colony in Baja California Laura Hooton 64

Part II Commodity Histories in the Borderlands 81

4 Breaking Sod or Breaking Even? Flax on the Northern Great Plains and Prairies, 1889-1930 Joshua D. Macfadyen 83

5 Colonizing the Borderlands: Citriculture and Boosterism in Texas's Lower Rio Grande Valley, 1910-1930 Tim Bowman 104

6 Red and Green on the Border: The Nature and Technology of Southern New Mexico's Chile Peppers Todd Meyers 122

7 Baja and Beyond: Toward an Environmental and Trans-regional History of the Tomato Industry of Baja California Sterling Evans 148

Part III A Sense of Place for Ranching and Farming in the North American Borderlands 167

8 Disturbed Belt or Rancher's Paradise? Frontier Exploration and Place-Making in a Western Canadian-American Borderland Peter S. Morris 169

9 Croplands and Pastures: Local Agricultural Landscape Evolution on the Transnational Northern Great Plains, 1935-2006 Andrew Dunlop 198

10 Ranching across Borders: The Making of a Transnational Cattle Industry in the Texas-Mexico Borderlands, 1749-1945 Alicia Dewey 221

Part IV Agricultural Labor in the US-Mexico Borderlands 247

11 Pecan Shelling and Its Discontents: Migrant Industrialization in Depression-Era San Antonio John Weber 249

12 From the Golden Age of Cotton to Sorghum: Mexican Women's Labor in Agro-Industries along the Texas-Tamaulipas Borderlands Sonia Hernández 265

13 The Betabeleras of Western Nebraska: Gender, Labor, and the Beet Sugar Industry Tisa M. Anders Rosa Elia Cobos 285

14 Dias de Descanso: Reassessing the Social History of los Braceros and the Transformative Role of Migration Matt Caire-Pérez 309

Part V Agricultural Labor in the US-Canada Borderlands 327

15 Picking, Posing, and Performing: Puget Sound Hop Fields and Income for Aboriginal Workers Paige Raibmon 329

16 "We Are Tied Together … in a Hundred Different Ways": Farmers and Farm Organizations across the Forty-Ninth Parallel, 1905-1915 Jason McCollom 351

17 "Done for Another Year": The Resilience of Canadian Custom Harvesters on the North American Plains Thomas D. Isern Suzzanne Kelley 371

Part VI Agriculture and Transborder Water Issues 393

18 "There May Be Bloodshed": The US Reclamation Service, Localism, and Water Conflicts in the Montana-Alberta Borderlands, 1900-1910 Anthony E. Carlson 395

19 The Liquid Frontier: Water and Sustainable Development on the US-Mexico Border Stephen P. Mumme 420

Afterword: NAFTA, Agriculture, and the Greater West Sterling Evans 433

Contributors 447

Index 451


Norman, OK

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