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Fugitive Landscapes

Fugitive Landscapes: The Forgotten History of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

Samuel Truett
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1nq9kd
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  • Book Info
    Fugitive Landscapes
    Book Description:

    Published in Cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies

    In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Mexicans and Americans joined together to transform the U.S.-Mexico borderlands into a crossroads of modern economic development. This book reveals the forgotten story of their ambitious dreams and their ultimate failure to control this fugitive terrain.Focusing on a mining region that spilled across the Arizona-Sonora border, this book shows how entrepreneurs, corporations, and statesmen tried to domesticate nature and society within a transnational context. Efforts to tame a "wild" frontier were stymied by labor struggles, social conflict, and revolution.Fugitive Landscapesexplores the making and unmaking of the U.S.-Mexico border, telling how ordinary people resisted the domination of empires, nations, and corporations to shape transnational history on their own terms. By moving beyond traditional national narratives, it offers new lessons for our own border-crossing age.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13532-9
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Prologue: Hidden Histories
    (pp. 1-10)

    On a December evening in 1891, a well-dressed crowd of capitalists, intellectuals, and political elites ducked out of the cold into the Democratic Club on New York City’s Fifth Avenue. They carried dinner invitations from Walter S. Logan, aWall Street lawyer known in local business circles as a promoter of western investment. Some had attended a similar banquet that July, on Long Island, at which Logan had toasted the expansion of capital into the valleys and mining districts of Arizona. Now, stripping off their coats and scarves, they prepared once again to dream of distant sun-baked lands blessed by nature.¹...

  5. Part I. Frontier Legacies

    • 1 Ghosts of Empires Past
      (pp. 13-32)

      In early 1853, the New York City bibliophile and ethnographer John Russell Bartlett set sail from Texas for New Orleans. He had just completed a two-and-ahalf-year journey into the heart ofNorth America with the U.S.–Mexican Boundary Commission, an expedition charged with surveying the new border between the United States and Mexico. While his subordinates had shouldered the technical burden of flattening territory ontomaps, astronomical tables, and scientific illustrations, Bartlett chronicled their passage through exotic lands. He later devoted two volumes to the experience in hisPersonal Narrative of Explorations and Incidents,published in 1854 for a broad popular audience....

    • 2 Borderland Dreams
      (pp. 33-52)

      By the time Americans began to dream of Sonora, Sonora was a dream that had traveled across national borders, halfway around the world, and back again. It started with a journey of exploration. In 1799, the German geographer Alexander von Humboldt left Europe with royal permission to explore the Americas from Argentina to New Spain. He had become interested in New Spain several years earlier as a student at the Royal Mining Academy at Freiberg, Saxony. There he had heard glowing reports from two classmates, Andrés Manuel del Río and Fausto de Elhúyar, leaders of New Spain’s Cuerpo de Minería....

  6. Part II. Border Crossings

    • 3 Industrial Frontiers
      (pp. 55-77)

      In 1864, as civil war raged in the United States, a young Mexican diplomat named Matías Romero dined with U.S. capitalists at Delmonico’s in New York City. Mexico was a different place from what it would be in 1891, when an older Romero met Walter S. Logan on Wall Street. Among other things, it was mired in a civil war of its own. France had invaded Mexico in 1862, setting up a client monarchy under Ferdinand Maximilian and forcing President Benito Juárez and his cabinet out of Mexico City. Romero, a twenty-five-year-old lawyer, was among the refugees. A spokesman for...

    • 4 The Mexican Cornucopia
      (pp. 78-103)

      As Phelps Dodge crossed into Mexico, it found itself taking a well-worn path. For over a decade, Sonora had been teeming with treasure seekers from beyond the northern pale, each pursuing somany apparitions of Mexico—whether ghosts of former golden ages or dreams of El Dorados yet to come—that it was hard to get one’s bearings. How did one stop moving between dreams and ghosts, past and future, failure and promise, to strike a sustainable bargain with nature? How did one pin this fugitive landscape down? This was a riddle not only about Sonora, but also about empire: successive...

    • 5 Transnational Passages
      (pp. 104-130)

      Shadows are worlds in motion; to appreciate them, we must trace their passages. When the U.S. mining engineer Morris B. Parker came from Chihuahua to Sonora in 1900, he took a passage familiar to many miners in the colonial era, from the old trade center of Casas Grandes through the Púlpito Pass to the highlands of northeastern Sonora. Squeezing through this “rough, rocky bottle-neck” in a rickety buckboard, he paused at Colonia Oaxaca, a new Mormon colony on the Bavispe, before pushing on to his destination, the mining region below Nacozari. Four years later, a traveler like Parker would have...

  7. Part III. Contested Terrain

    • 6 Development and Disorder
      (pp. 133-156)

      In the end, perhaps the hardest thing to pin down was modernity itself. Most found it easier to gaze backward and evaluate the modern borderlands in contrast to the unmade frontier and its familiar grammar of wildness, barbarism, and disorder. The measure of modernity at Cananea, wrote one Mexican, was its sudden rise as a “flourishing city where not many years before was a barren desert devastated by the depredations of the murderous Apache.” The mining geologist Robert T. Hill viewed the copper borderlands through a similar lens. “Today the home of the Apache is the site of a prosperity...

    • 7 Insurgent Landscapes
      (pp. 157-177)

      When the winds of the Mexican Revolution reached Sonora, few were taken by complete surprise. Frustrations with the Díaz regime and its preferential treatment of U.S. interests in Mexico were rampant, and rumors of insurgency had grown chronic in the borderlands. The strike at Cananea in 1906 had inspired anti-Díaz groups on both sides of the border, many of them tied to the Flores Magón brothers, who published and distributed their anti-Díaz newspaper,La Regeneración,from exile in St. Louis, Missouri. Magonista intellectuals had, in fact, already established a clear presence at Douglas and Cananea by the time of the...

  8. Epilogue: Remapping the Borderlands
    (pp. 178-184)

    As much as revolution had unsettled the borderlands, forcing corporations to close their doors, pushing Mexicans into exile, and conjuring ghosts of frontier barbarism, it hardly spelled an end to the copper borderlands. The CCCC and Phelps Dodge emerged on the other side stronger than ever. With the help of bilingual lawyers and new government allies who translated the legal and political landscapes of postrevolutionary Mexico, they forged ties to the state that were in some ways more privileged and exclusive than ever. Most important for copper managers, the Mexican leaders who controlled Mexico in the 1920s—Álvaro Obregón and...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 185-228)
  10. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-248)
  11. Index
    (pp. 249-259)