They Saved the Crops: Labor, Landscape, and the Struggle over Industrial Farming in Bracero-Era California by Don MitchellThey Saved the Crops: Labor, Landscape, and the Struggle over Industrial Farming in Bracero-Era California by Don Mitchell

They Saved the Crops: Labor, Landscape, and the Struggle over Industrial Farming in Bracero-Era…

byDon Mitchell

Paperback | April 1, 2012

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At the outset of World War II, California agriculture seemed to be on the cusp of change. Many Californians, reacting to the ravages of the Great Depression, called for a radical reorientation of the highly exploitative labor relations that had allowed the state to become such a productive farming frontier. But with the importation of the first braceros-"guest workers" from Mexico hired on an "emergency" basis after the United States entered the war-an even more intense struggle ensued over how agriculture would be conducted in the state. Esteemed geographer Don Mitchell argues that by delineating the need for cheap, flexible farm labor as a problem and solving it via the importation of relatively disempowered migrant workers, an alliance of growers and government actors committed the United States to an agricultural system that is, in important respects, still with us.

They Saved the Crops is a theoretically rich and stylistically innovative account of grower rapaciousness, worker militancy, rampant corruption, and bureaucratic bias. Mitchell shows that growers, workers, and officials confronted a series of problems that shaped-and were shaped by-the landscape itself. For growers, the problem was finding the right kind of labor at the right price at the right time. Workers struggled for survival and attempted to win power in the face of economic exploitation and unremitting violence. Bureaucrats tried to harness political power to meet the demands of, as one put it, "the people whom we serve."

Drawing on a deep well of empirical materials from archives up and down the state, Mitchell's account promises to be the definitive book about California agriculture in the turbulent decades of the mid-twentieth century.

DON MITCHELL is Distinguished Professor of Geography Emeritus at Syracuse University and Professor of Cultural Geography at Uppsala University in Sweden. He is the author of several books, including They Saved the Crops: Labor, Landscape, and the Struggle over Industrial Farming in Bracero-Era California (Georgia). He was a MacArthur F...
Title:They Saved the Crops: Labor, Landscape, and the Struggle over Industrial Farming in Bracero-Era…Format:PaperbackDimensions:576 pages, 9 × 6.02 × 1.27 inPublished:April 1, 2012Publisher:University of Georgia PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0820341762

ISBN - 13:9780820341767

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Table of Contents

List of Abbreviations

Introduction. "Reality Soon Caught Up with Us"

Chapter 1. The Agribusiness Landscape in the "War Emergency": The Origins of the Bracero Program and the Struggle to Control It

Morphology: Things on the Land

Chapter 2. The Struggle for a Rational Farming Landscape: Worker Housing and Grower Power

Reproduction: Housing Labor Power

Chapter 3. The Dream of Labor Power: Fluid Labor and the Solid Landscape

Scale: Infrastructures of Landscape and Labor Markets

Chapter 4. Organizing the Landscape: Labor Camps, International Agreements, and the NFLU

Violence: Overt and Structural

Chapter 5. The Persistent Landscape: Perpetuating Crisis in California

Determination: Labor's Geography

Chapter 6. Imperial Farming, Imperialist Landscapes

Squeezed: Capital's Geography

Chapter 7. Labor Process, Laboring Life

Wetback: Surplus Labor

Chapter 8. Operation Wetback: Preserving the Status Quo

State: Capital's Foremen

Chapter 9. RFLOAC: The Imbrication of Grower Control

Domination: Of Labor, by Capital

Chapter 10. Power in the Peach Bowl: Of Domination, Prevailing Wages, and the (Never-Ending) Question of Housing

Dead Labor: The Past Materialized, the Present Shaped

Chapter 11. Dead Labor--Literally: (Another) Crisis in the Bracero Program

Property: Contract Farming, Contract Labor

Chapter 12. Organizing Resistance: Swinging at the Heart of the Bracero Program

Prospect: Persistent Landscapes and Sculpted Futures

Chapter 13. The Demise of the Bracero Program: Closing the Gates of Cheap Labor?

Landscape: Power Materialized

Chapter 14. The Ever-New, Ever-Same: Labor Militancy, Rationalization, and the Post-bracero Landscape

Conclusion. "They Saved the Crops"

Archives Consulted

Editorial Reviews

Ernesto Galarza, Karl Marx, and Carey McWilliams come together in the industrial agricultural establishments of California in Don Mitchell's extraordinary exploration of the bracero program. In a book that both illuminates and infuriates, Mitchell deftly draws on the insights of geography and political economy to bring to life a rich archival record of exploitation, abuse, class struggle, and the ugly pursuit of profit at any cost. In doing so, Mitchell powerfully shows how the multifaceted violence of the bracero program lives on in the land and bodies that make up California's contemporary agricultural landscape. - Joseph Nevins - author of Dying to Live: A Story of U.S. Immigration in an Age of Global Apartheid