Lori A. Flores
Grounds for Dreaming
Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants and the California Farmworker Movement
Yale University Press 2014
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latino StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Political ScienceNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in the American WestNew Books Network March 10, 2016 David-James Gonzales
In Grounds for Dreaming: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants and the California Farmworker Movement (Yale University Press, 2015), Lori A. Flores illuminates a neglected part of Salinas Valley’s past “to show how this agricultural empire was continually a center, a microcosm, of significant transitions and moments in U.S. labor, immigration, and Latino history.” Focusing on a period some consider the golden age of 20thcentury American abundance and prosperity, 1942-1970, this history examines the interactions of Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants during the implementation, administration, and termination of the U.S.-Mexico Emergency Farm Labor Program (a.k.a. Bracero Program). Challenging the more conventional narrative of postwar American prosperity, Grounds for Dreaming reveals how industrial agriculture’s unquenchable thirst for Mexican immigrant labor shaped race relations in California, produced intragroup conflict within ethnic Mexican communities, and stymied the advancement of Mexican American labor and civil rights. Drawing comparisons and contrasts to the ethnic Mexican experience in urban settings like Los Angeles, Dr. Flores argues that within the world of capitalist agriculture, the formation of identity and community were indelibly shaped by racialized notions of Mexican labor and its presumed discontinuity with American citizenship. In addition to relating a chilling history of the ills of California agribusiness at the pinnacle of its power, Grounds for Dreaming sheds new light on the merger of urban and agricultural activists in the formation of the Farmworker and Chicana/o struggles for social justice.