Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico

Private Revolutions

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Private ranchers survived the Mexican Revolution and the era of agrarian reforms, and they continue to play key roles in the ecology and economy of northern Mexico. In this study of the Río Sonora region of northern Mexico, where ranchers own anywhere from several hundred to tens of thousands of acres, Eric Perramond evaluates management techniques, labor expenditures, gender roles, and decision-making on private ranches of varying size. By examining the economic and ecological dimensions of daily decisions made on and off the ranch he shows that, contrary to prevailing notions, ranchers rarely collude as a class unless land titles are at issue, and that their decision-making is as varied as the landscapes they oversee. Through first-hand observation, field measurements, and intimate ethnographies, Perramond sheds light on a complex set of decisions made, avoided, and confronted by these land managers and their families. He particularly shows that ranching has endured because of its extended kinship network, its reliance on all household members, and its close ties to local politics. Perramond follows ranchers caught between debt, drought, and declining returns to demonstrate the novel approaches they have developed to adapt to changing economies and ecologies alike—such as strategically marketing the ranches for wild-game hunting or establishing small businesses that subsidize their lifestyles and livelihoods. Even more importantly, he reveals the false dichotomy between private and communal ranching. Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico is essential reading for anyone interested in the future of ranching in western North America.

“Perramond does a great job integrating ethnographic vignettes with analysis and expanding on important topics. This is an ethnographic geography at its best—one that does an engaging and intellectually honest job of grappling with a region and a livelihood that is globalizing and fragmenting at the same time.”—Thomas E. Sheridan, author of Where the Dove Calls: The Political Ecology of a Peasant Corporate Community in Northwestern Mexico and Arizona: A History, also published by the University of Arizona Press.

“An excellent story and account of what has happened in the development in northern Mexico ranching in the last century. Perramond does a really effective job of bringing the mixed nature of ranching in this region to life.”—Paul F. Starrs, author of Let the Cowboy Ride: Cattle Ranching in the American West
Political Ecologies of Cattle Ranching in Northern Mexico
288 Pages 6 x 9 x 0.9 Published: 2010 Hardcover (9780816527212)
Ebook (9780816502264)

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