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The University of Chicago Press


This article explores the relationship between the growth of irrigation works, environmental change, and rural migration in western Mexico from 1940 to 1964. It begins by analyzing how Mexico’s expansion of hydraulic infrastructure facilitated the transfer of industrial agricultural technology through the US-based Rockefeller Foundation. US-sponsored technical assistance programs privileged irrigation- and input-intensive production, undermining traditional Mexican land tenure and agriculture regimes while industrializing and privatizing natural resources. These processes altered rural livelihoods and landscapes in western Mexico, intensifying migratory flows already amplified by the Bracero Program. By examining the origins of western Mexico’s deeply rooted culture of migration through an environmental and technical lens, this article reframes conventional socioeconomic and political understandings of Mexican migrancy, revealing the essential roles of the natural and built environments in the growth of a mass phenomenon that dominates US-Mexican relations today.


Copyright © 2021 The University of Chicago Press. Reprinted with permission.



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