Mario Jimenez Sifuentez
Of Forests and Fields
Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest
Rutgers University Press 2016
In Of Forests and Fields: Mexican Labor in the Pacific Northwest (Rutgers University Press, 2016), Dr. Mario Jimenez Sifuentez combines U.S. labor, environmental, and Chicana/o history to tell the story of Mexican laborers in the states of Oregon and Washington. Beginning with the initial migration of Mexican guest workers to the Northwest in 1942 and culminating with the formation and success of regional organizations advocating for farmworker rights in the mid-1990s, Dr. Sifuentez’s study highlights the central role of Mexican labor in transforming the Pacific Northwest into one of the most productive agricultural regions in the country after World War II. At the heart of the book is a deeply personal history of Mexican worker resistance, which Sifuentez traces from the braceros of the 1940s, to the Tejanos of the postwar period, to today’s largely undocumented workforce. Throughout, Dr. Sifuentez discusses the uniqueness of the ethnic Mexican experience in the Pacific Northwest, which departs in a number of significant ways from the established narrative centered in the Southwest. Of Forests and Fields also provides a usable history of the formation and success of progressive minded organizations like Pineros y Campesinos Unidos Noroeste (PECUN) that combine grassroots community-centered engagement with labor activism to serve the needs of vulnerable workers, families, and communities.
David-James Gonzales (DJ) is a Doctoral Candidate in History at the University of Southern California. His research and teaching interests include California and the West, Borderlands, Civil Rights, and Latina/o identity and politics. DJ is currently writing a dissertation about the influence of Mexican American civic engagement and political activism on the metropolitan development of Orange County, CA from 1930 to 1965.