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

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

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

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


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.”


Farming across Borders is proudly number seven in the Connecting the Greater West series, a collection of books dedicated to exploring the changing and growing ways that historians and other scholars are coming to view a North American West. This region includes the us West, northern Mexico, and western Canada—the North American side of the Pacific Rim, and the historical connections and borderlands between these subregions. Subjects in these books, like many of the ones in this volume, include transnational history, borders and borderlands, immigration, environment and agriculture, and Indigenous peoples’ negotiations of border regions. Thus, there are truly limitless ways of understanding “the West” in these terms, and those subjects of study are all apparent here in this book.

Specifically for Farming across Borders the central themes revolve around transnational agricultural history in the North American West. As you will see, those themes are interpreted here by the contributing authors as they explore commodity production in and across border regions, transborder immigrant farm labor, and aspects of environmental change, especially related to water, in North American borderlands (both US-Mexican and US-Canadian). Together the essays present a wide variety of stories and understandings of North America through the lens of agricultural history. Some have previously been published, but most were written for this volume. the five previously published articles are vital to the field of transnational agricultural history in North America, and adding them here under one cover facilitates their wider dissemination for students and scholars, which could be especially beneficial for classroom use. the fourteen new essays are written by both young scholars new to the field and seasoned historians and other scholars long known to agricultural history or borderlands studies or both. Together they help us understand a deeper dimension of the ever-expanding field of borderlands history while focusing on agriculture (both farming and ranching), commodities, environment, immigration, labor, and transnational analysis.

The aim of this book is for it to be a useful tool for all of those . . .

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