Current Issue

View current issue...

Volume 91, Number 3 (Summer 2017)


Rural Hydro-Electrification and the Colonial New Deal: Modernization, Experts, and Rural Life in Puerto Rico, 1935-1942 GEOFF BURROWS

The Great Depression in Puerto Rico was marked by interconnected infrastructural, environmental, and sociioeconomic crises caued by the global economic contraction and two devastating natural disasters, the San Felipe and San Ciprian hurricanes of 1928 and 1932. After 1935, all relief and recovery programs were coordinated by the Puerto Rico Reconstruction Administration (PRRA), a locally run federal agency of the Second New Deal. Between 1935 and 1943, Puerto Rican engineers and workers constructed seven major hydroelectric projects in the Cordillera Central to generate inexpensive electric power while also providing adequate flood relief, year-round irrigation for the dry southern coast, and abundant reserves of clean drinking water. As with other PRRA projects, all property, constructions, and lands of the rural electrification program were transferred to the local governments, which established the Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority to administer the water and electric resources of the island. Modeled on the Tennessee Valley Authority, this public corporation helped Puerto Rico recover from the 1928 and 1932 hurricanes, improved long-term health, and broke the power of private utility companies that had controlled water and electric resources for decades. At the same time, however, the hydro-electrification projects exposed the complex relationship between rural life and economic modernization in Puerto Rico and influenced the beginning of a new "reformed" colonialism based on permament political ties between Puerto Rico and the United States. The PRRA created space for increased local autonomy on the island by strengthening its colonial association with the United States.

Workers' Weed: Cannabis, Sugar Beets, and Landscapes of Labor in the American West, 1900-1946 NICK JOHNSON

During the first half of the twentieth century in the American West, Mexican and Mexican American farm workers grew and used Cannabis, the marijuana plant, to help navigate the physical, mental, and economic struggles they faced as exploited itinerant laborers. Their stories show that, while the capitalist framework of the agricultural landscape kept workers pinned to the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, the landscape itself provided spaces where they could use traditional knowledge of Cannabis to climb that ladder, albeit illegally. The ensuing interactions between workers, plants, and the agricultural landscape gave birth to an illicit trade that remains culturally, economically, and environmentally relevant in the West today.

Making Green Revolutions: Kansas Farms, Recovery, and the New Agriculture, 1918-1981 KENNETH M. SYLVESTER and PAUL W. RHODE

The literature on the Dust Bowl conveys the impression of widespread exodus from the Great Plains. But farm populations were often more resilient than the iconic photographs of that era suggest. While recent studies highlight that tenacity, less is known about the process of recovery and postwar growth. This paper offers a window on both. The evidence discussed here survives as a legacy of a long-lived, state-run agricultural statistics program in Kansas. The State Board of Agriculture conducted annual household surveys of farms between 1873 and 1981. Linked together over time, these farm-level surveys offer a detailed record of the residential and land-use histories of three communities, and they begin to illustrate how farm households met the challenges of the drought years and adjusted to the new agriculture in the post-World War II era.

The Microfoundations of Italian Agricultural Economists and Fascism FEDERICO D'ONOFRIO

By studying the theoretical and empirical work of agricultural economists in pre-World War I and interwar Italy, this article shows that agrarianism was a general paradigm shared across the Italian political spectrum by different political families. Originating in the agricultural crisis of the late nineteenth century, agrarianism was understood differently by different political groups, so that its political meaning changed over time, while the underlying economic principles remained stable. The “democratic agrarianism” of the first two decades of the twentieth century—an effort to increase the number of owner-farmers in the name of the “social utility” of land—evolved into the “productivist agrarianism” of the fascist period, when the regime tried to reconcile under a technocratic leadership the contrast between social issues and land productivity. It declared peasant farmers a protected category of subjects, and put the development of Italian agriculture under the tutelage of the state and its bureaucratic structure


Read Roundtable

Book Reviews

Featured Review

Read Featured Review


Zhang, The River, The Plain, and the State: An Environmental Drama in Northern Song China (1048-1128), by Ruth Mostern

Merkel-Hess, The Rural Modern: Reconstructing the Self and State in Republican China , by Sigrid Schmalzer

Wu, Negotiating Rural Land Ownership in Southwest China: State, Village, Family, by René Trappel


Gaggio, The Shaping of Tuscany: Landscape and Society between Tradition and Modernity, by Robert Corban

Graham, Lysenko's Ghost: Epigenetics and Russia, by Jenny Leigh Smith

Brown, Rural Society and Economic Change in County Durham: Recession and Recovery, c.1400-1640, by James P. Bowen

Schofield, Peasants and Historians: Debating the Medieval English Peasantry, by Christopher Dyer

Woolgar, Mobilizing Nature: The Environmental History of War and Militarization in Modern France, by Alice Weinreb


Ross, The Borders of Race in Colonial South Africa: The Kat River Settlement, 1829-1856, by Jacob Ivey

Latin America

Lapegna, Soybeans and Power: Genetically Modified Crops, Environmental Politics, and Social Movements in Argentina, by Diana Córdoba

Cribeli, Industrial Forests and Mechanical Marvels: Modernization in Nineteenth-Century Brazil, by Robert W. Wilcox

Tomich, New Frontiers of Slavery, by Doug Tompson

North America

Ahmed, Success Depends on the Animals: Emigrants, Livestock, and Wild Animals on the Overland Trails, 1840-1869, by Matthew M. Stith

Weiss, Real Pigs: Shifting Values in the Field of Local Pork, by Catarina Passidomo

Silkenat, Driven from Home: North Carolina's Civil War Refugee Crisis, by Tommy C. Brown

Couch, The Small-Town Midwest: Resilience and Hope in the Twenty-First Century, by Sara E. Morris

Nolt, The Amish: A Concise Introduction, by Pamela Riney-Kehrberg

Rasmussen, Carnival in the Countryside: The History of the Iowa State Fair, by Sarah Egge

Bowman, Blood Oranges: Colonialism and Agriculture in the South Texas Borderlands, by Christopher Gatto

Stauder, The Blue and the Green: A Cultural Ecological History of an Arizona Ranching Community, by Julie Brugger

Klein, Irwin Klein and the New Settlers: Photographs of Counterculture in New Mexico, by Christopher A. Huff

Loomis, Empire of Timber: Labor Unions and the Pacific Northwest Forests, by Kevin C. Brown

Parsons, Ku-Klux: The Birth of the Klan during Reconstruction, by Minoa D. Uffelman