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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Mining Life : : A Transnational History of Race and Family in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1890-1965

  • Author(s): Maiorana, Juliette Charlie
  • et al.

The Mining Life is a historical study of mixed communities and families tied to the corporate mining industry in Mexico and the United States. The dissertation focuses on mining engineers, ethnic Mexican workers, and their families, who were employed by some of the largest multinational mining corporations, including the American Smelting and Refining Company and Phelps Dodge. Each had industrial operations, or "mining colonies," located in mineral-rich regions in the Mexican north, U.S. southwest, Rocky Mountain West, and elsewhere. My main interest is in how the expansion of multinational mining corporations impacted the everyday lives and families of their employees in the borderlands, and how mining people responded to these changes--especially women. The history of industrial mining in the Mexico-U.S. borderlands is an excellent avenue to explore a major economic enterprise and the transnationally mobile--and culturally mixed-- family and community life it helped produce. The Mining Life explores this complex interracial and transnational community by focusing on middle and working classes within corporate hierarchies in the mining-intensive states of Arizona and Chihuahua. The dissertation argues that the colonial--and later imperialistic--mining industry fostered the conditions that created multiracial mining communities and families on both sides of the border. This outcome challenged multinational companies' own intentions for implementing racial, national, and class segregations in their camps. In the U.S.-Mexico case, the contradiction inherent in modern forms of colonial relationships was especially pronounced because of the proximity of the two countries, long-term transnational mobility, and can clearly be seen in the realm of family

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