Research Manuscript Series

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Santa Clara, Calif. : Santa Clara University, Department of Anthropology and Sociology


Prior to the arrival of the first Europeans on her shores, California was ecologically and visually a radically different land than she would become in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The first prolonged European intervention in the region in the form of the Spanish missions, as well as the successive waves of . American immigration with the Gold Rush of the 1850's, left a lasting legacy in the form of their tremendous impact on the environment of California. Agriculture fundamentally altered the appearance of the territory, replacing its native environment with a man-made, cultivated one. The groves of oaks and grasslands which comprised California's rich natural landscape were supplanted by the fields and orchards of her European occupiers, and her flourishing riparian communities were disrupted as their waters were diverted to serve as irrigation for the farms of the Spanish and American settlers. Even California's indigenous peoples who for millennia had utilized her resources without causing them appreciable harm were displaced by the desire of the invading peoples for arable land.

The intention of this paper is to demonstrate the ideologies of agriculture held by first the Spanish and later the Americans , as well as their conceptions of its function in their occupation of California. In order to establish the mindset of these peoples, I have chosen to work directly with their writings, to allow the Spanish and American occupiers of California to speak in their own words. This decision was influenced by the fact that there are relatively few secondary .sources which deal with the subject of California agriculture, and virtually none which discuss its ideological aspects; likewise, the many secondary works on the, missions generally do not deal with agriculture beyond an enumeration of crops grown and techniques of cultivation. However, my principal motivation in utilizing mainly primary sources was that these are the most valid source of evidence for the ideologies possessed by their authors. It is in their accounts of California that the beliefs of the Americans and Spanish are contained, within these that they recorded their impressions of California in her natural state and their conceptions of the changes they were effecting in their cultivation of her soil , as well as the meanings they attributed to these.

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Research Manuscript Series; 2


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