Corridors of Migration
The Odyssey of Mexican Laborers, 1600-1933
In the San Joaquin Valley Cotton Strike of 1933, frenzied cotton farmers murdered three strikers, intentionally starved at least nine infants, wounded dozens of people, and arrested more. While the story of this incident has been recounted from the perspective of both the farmers and, more recently, the Mexican workers, this is the first book to trace the origins of the Mexican workers’ activism through their common experience of migrating to the United States.
Rodolfo F. Acuña documents the history of Mexican workers and their families from seventeenth-century Chihuahua to twentieth-century California, following their patterns of migration and describing the establishment of communities in mining and agricultural regions. He shows the combined influences of racism, transborder dynamics, and events such as the industrialization of the Southwest, the Mexican Revolution, and World War I in shaping the collective experience of these people as they helped to form the economic, political, and social landscapes of the American Southwest in their interactions with agribusiness and absentee copper barons.
Acuña follows the steps of one of the murdered strikers, Pedro Subia, reconstructing the times and places in which his wave of migrants lived. By balancing the social and geographic trends in the Mexican population with the story of individual protest participants, Acuña shows how the strikes were in fact driven by choices beyond the Mexican workers’ control. Their struggle to form communities graphically retells how these workers were continuously uprooted and their organizations destroyed by capital. Corridors of Migration thus documents twentieth-century Mexican American labor activism from its earliest roots through the mines of Arizona and the Great San Joaquin Valley cotton strike.
From a founding scholar of Chicano studies and the author of fifteen books comes the culmination of three decades of dedicated research into the causes and effects of migration and labor activism. The narrative documents how Mexican workers formed communities against all odds.
"This is one of the most ambitious and signifcant works in Mexican, Chicano, and labor history as well as the history of Mexico- United States relations to appear in recent years....This is a classic, and with its sweeping grasp, massive documentation, and strong writing, it will stand as the greatest scholarly contribution in Acuña's illustrious career."—Dionicio Nodín Valdés, author of Al Norte: Agricultural Workers in the Great Lakes Region