Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor and Chair, Anthropology, University of California / Santa Barbara

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1997
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, The New School
Development in the Borderlands: Cotton Capitalism, State Formation, and Regional Political Culture in Northern Mexico

I propose to do archival and field research that shows how the deep tensions of Mexican society were negotiated among national and regional actors involved in the Valle Baja Rio Bravo agricultural development project. By analyzing the political languages employed in practices and processes of contention and negotiation, this project will contribute to an historical anthropology of political culture and state formation that investigates the ways in which resistance expresses and reproduces established ideologies and social relations even as it challenges them. Archives in Mexico City and Tamaulipas will be consulted for basic historical data concerning regional economic development and class formation, social conflict, and politics during the 1935-63 period of cotton-export prosperity, and for evidence of the political languages and ideologies of state officials, campesinos, migrant workers, regional elites and others active in the region. Interviews will be conducted with members of these same groups, to provide oral histories that will deepen and broaden our knowledge of the 1935-1963 time period, and show how the contemporary practice of historical memory is itself part of the process of political contestation and negotiation that defines political culture and state formation.