Jessica M. KimOct 14, 2021
Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Borderlands of American Empire, 1865–1941
UNC Press Books 2019
Between 1865 and 1900, the population of Los Angeles grew from around 5,000 people to over 100,000. With population growth that explosive came the opportunity for vast riches to be made. In Imperial Metropolis: Los Angeles, Mexico, and the Borderlands of American Empire, 1865–1941 (UNC Press, 2019), Dr. Jessica Kim, an associate professor of history at the University of Southern California, traces that wealth southward, arguing that the growth of Los Angeles from a hamlet to the second largest city in the nation is rooted in imperialist acquisition of capital from Mexico. Kim builds on recent borderlands histories to show that not only did people regularly cross borders in the late 19th and early 20th century American West, but so too did wealth and capital. So great was the draining of Mexican wealth to fuel Los Angeles, that when the Mexican Revolution began in 1910, Americans, many of them Los Angelinos, owned over 1/3 of all Mexican land. That kind of wealth disparity was a feature, not a bug, of Los Angeles' position as a borderland metropolis and outpost of empire.
Dr. Stephen R. Hausmann is an assistant professor of history at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota.