Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest (Latinidad: Transnational Cultures in the United States) (Paperback)
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2016 Choice Oustanding Academic Title
Just looking at the Pacific Northwest’s many verdant forests and fields, it may be hard to imagine the intense work it took to transform the region into the agricultural powerhouse it is today. Much of this labor was provided by Mexican guest workers, Tejano migrants, and undocumented immigrants, who converged on the region beginning in the mid-1940s. Of Forests and Fields tells the story of these workers, who toiled in the fields, canneries, packing sheds, and forests, turning the Pacific Northwest into one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country. Employing an innovative approach that traces the intersections between Chicana/o labor and environmental history, Mario Sifuentez shows how ethnic Mexican workers responded to white communities that only welcomed them when they were economically useful, then quickly shunned them. He vividly renders the feelings of isolation and desperation that led to the formation of ethnic Mexican labor organizations like the Pineros y Campesinos Unidos Noroeste (PCUN) farm workers union, which fought back against discrimination and exploitation. Of Forests and Fields not only extends the scope of Mexican labor history beyond the Southwest, it offers valuable historical precedents for understanding the struggles of immigrant and migrant laborers in our own era. Sifuentez supplements his extensive archival research with a unique set of first-hand interviews, offering new perspectives on events covered in the printed historical record. A descendent of ethnic Mexican immigrant laborers in Oregon, Sifuentez also poignantly demonstrates the links between the personal and political, as his research leads him to amazing discoveries about his own family history...www.mariosifuentez.com
About the Author
MARIO JIMENEZ SIFUENTEZ is an assistant professor of history at the University of California, Merced.
"Sifuentez cogently analyzes approximately seventy years of Pacific Northwest labor history… Scholars and students (both undergraduate and graduate) will find this richly told story illuminating."
— The Journal of American History
"Sifuentez has written a terrific book exploring the struggles of Mexican farm and forest laborers, documented and undocumented, in the northwest from World War II to the turn of the century. This is first-rate labor and environmental history attentive to the types of work performed by his subjects, the tensions between laborers and growers, and the role of pro-business state authorities... Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty."
"Of Forests and Fields provides a detailed and fascinating account of Mexican labor in the Pacific Northwest between the 1940s and the mid-1990s... Sifuentez has paved the way for scholars to more readily engage with the ways in which Mexican and Mexican American labor fits into a larger environmental history of the United States."
"Of Forests and Fields is an important work that should be read by those interested in immigrant rights and Chicano, environmental, and labor history."
— Pacific Northwest Quarterly
"Mario Sifuentez gives voice to the stories, struggles, and strengths of Mexican laborers in the fields of the Northwest, illuminating in engaging, human terms an important slice of history."
— Miriam Pawel
"Of Forests and Fields is a significant and timely historical project addressing one of the most important social and cultural developments in recent history."
— David Gutierrez
"An elegant and engaging history of Mexican-ancestry labor in the Pacific Northwest....Well organized and well written. This book should be of interest to anyone seeking to understand the long history of Mexican-ancestry people in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest more broadly. It is written in a clear and engaging way that should appeal to college instructors, informed readers, and the general public."
— Oregon Historical Quarterly
"A much-needed history of Mexican labor in the Pacific Northwest, specifically in the state of Oregon....The most thorough examination of the evolution of Mexican labor in Oregon."
— Historical Pacific Review
"This book’s greatest strength is that it covers many different topics in a comparatively brief space. Consequently, it would serve as an excellent supplemental text for courses focused on the American West, labor, immigration, Chicana/o studies, and the modern US survey."