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The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the California Landscape

Don Mitchell

19 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0816626928 / ISBN 13: 9780816626922
Published by University of Minnesota Press, 1996
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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Lie of the Land: Migrant Workers and the...

Publisher: University of Minnesota Press

Publication Date: 1996

Book Condition: Good

About this title

Synopsis:

The beauty of the California landscape is integral to its place in the imagination of generations of people around the world. In this study, geographer Don Mitchell looks at the human costs associated with this famous scenery. Through an account of the labour history of the state, Mitchell examines the material and ideological struggles over living and working conditions that played a large part in the construction of the contemporary California landscape. The work examines the way the California landscape was built on the backs of migrant workers, focusing on migratory labour and agribusiness before World War II. The book relates the historical geography of California to the processes of labour that made it, discussing not only significant strikes but also on the everyday existence of migrant workers in the labour camps, fields, and "Hoovervilles" where they lived. Mitchell places class struggle at the heart of social development, demonstrating concretely how farm workers affected their social and material environment, as well as exploring how farm owners responded to their workers' efforts to improve their living and working conditions. Mitchell also places "reformers" in context, revealing the actual nature of their role in relation to migrant workers' efforts - that of undermining the struggle for genuine social change. In addition, this volume captures the significance of the changing composition of the agricultural workforce, particularly in racial terms, as the class struggle evolved over a period of decades. Mitchell has written a narrative history that describes the intimate connection between landscape representations and the material form of geography. The book places people squarely in the middle of the landscapes they inhabit, shedding light on the complex and seemingly contradictory interactions between progressive state agents, radical workers, and California growers as they seek to remake the land in their own image.

From the Back Cover:

At last, a book that magnificently draws together a sophisticated reading of landscape with a committed understanding of the labor process involved in its construction. Mitchell's analysis appropriates the best of studies of representation while critiquing their abstraction from material production. All this while capturing the role of migrant workers in the making of the California landscape.

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