Tore Olsson, Agrarian Crossings. Reformers and the Remaking of the US and Mexican Countrysides

Olsson, Tore. Agrarian Crossings. Reformers and the Remaking of the US and Mexican Countrysides. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017.

In the 1930s and 1940s, rural reformers in the United States and Mexico waged unprecedented campaigns to remake their countrysides in the name of agrarian justice and agricultural productivity. Agrarian Crossings tells the story of how these campaigns were conducted in dialogue with one another as reformers in each nation came to exchange models, plans, and strategies with their equivalents across the border.

Dismantling the artificial boundaries that can divide American and Latin American history, Tore Olsson shows how the agrarian histories of both regions share far more than we realize. He traces the connections between the US South and the plantation zones of Mexico, places that suffered parallel problems of environmental decline, rural poverty, and gross inequities in land tenure. Bringing this tumultuous era vividly to life, he describes how Roosevelt’s New Deal drew on Mexican revolutionary agrarianism to shape its program for the rural South. Olsson also looks at how the US South served as the domestic laboratory for the Rockefeller Foundation’s “green revolution” in Mexico–which would become the most important Third World development campaign of the twentieth century–and how the Mexican government attempted to replicate the hydraulic development of the Tennessee Valley Authority after World War II.

Rather than a comparative history, Agrarian Crossings is an innovative history of comparisons and the ways they affected policy, moved people, and reshaped the landscape.

“A model of border-crossing scholarship, Agrarian Crossings brilliantly illuminates the deep interconnections between U.S. and Mexican history. Neither the New Deal nor Mexican agrarian reform will ever look the same again.”–Karl Jacoby, Columbia University

Agrarian Crossings is a pathbreaking history of the American and Mexican reformers who reinvented farming in the shadow of World War II. This impressive and scrupulously researched book is required reading for historians of agriculture, technocratic interchange, and the invention of development in the Americas, as well as for anyone interested in the surprisingly entangled origins of the green revolution.”–Chris Boyer, University of Illinois at Chicago

“New Dealers in Coahuila, the campesinos of North Carolina–Olsson scrambles familiar geographies in this mind-wrenching account of rural politics in Mexico and the U.S. South. This is a surprising, innovative, and revelatory history, highly recommended not only for students of development but for anyone interested in the connections between the United States and Latin America.”–Daniel Immerwahr, author of Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development

“Transnational history at its best. Agrarian Crossings not only helps to reconceptualize the history of the American South, U.S.-Mexican relations, and the rise of development; it also stands out for the richness and texture of its empirical analysis.”–Kiran Klaus Patel, author of The New Deal: A Global History

“A persuasive fusion of intellectual, political, and agrarian history. Agrarian Crossings is a brilliant example of how to deploy transnational methods with narrative verve and analytical insight.”–Sarah Phillips, coauthor of This Land, This Nation: Conservatism, Rural America, and the New Deal


El siglo del ejido: una revisión (Chicago, 23-24 de octubre de 2015)

Coloquio Internacional

23 y 24 de octubre de 2015
John Hope Franklin Room (1126 E. 59th St., room 224, Chicago, IL)
Universidad de Chicago

A cien años de la creación del ejido de la Revolución, el Centro Katz de la Universidad de Chicago reúne a un grupo interdisciplinario de especialistas para discutir el estado actual del conocimiento y de la investigación acerca de la institución agraria que revolucionó la organización social, económica y política del campo mexicano durante el siglo XX.

El coloquio tendrá once sesiones con breves presentaciones y amplio tiempo para preguntas, debates y discusión. Además de los participantes, están cordialmente invitados a asistir, previa inscripción, los profesores y estudiantes de posgrado que tengan interés en estos temas.

International Colloquium

October 23 & 24, 2015
John Hope Franklin Room (1126 E. 59th St., room 224, Chicago, IL)
The University of Chicago

A hundred years after the creation of the ejido of the Mexican Revolution, the Katz Center at the University of Chicago brings together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to debate the current state of knowledge and research about the agrarian institution that revolutionized the social, economic, and political organization of the Mexican countryside during the course of the 20th century.

This colloquium will consist of eleven sessions, with brief presentations and ample time for questions, debate, and discussion. In addition to the participants, faculty and graduate students interested in the topic are cordially invited to attend. Registration is required.

Más información: mexicanstudies @

Registro de participación:


VIERNES 23 de octubre
(John Hope Franklin room, 1126 E. 59th St., 224, Chicago, IL)

12:00 PM Almuerzo
1:00 PM Introducción y bienvenida: Emilio Kourí (University of Chicago)

1:30 PM Sesión 1: Emilio Kourí (University of Chicago)
“Los orígenes del ejido de la Revolución”

2:30 PM Sesión 2: Antonio Azuela (UNAM)
“La cambiante definición jurídica del ejido en el siglo veinte”

3:30 PM café

4:00 PM Sesión 3: Mauricio Tenorio (University of Chicago)
“El ejido y los intelectuales, 1920-50”

5:00 PM Sesión 4: Eric Léonard (Institut de Recherce pour le Développement, France)
“Desagrarización del mundo rural y resignificación del ejido. La produccion de bienes públicos y la construcción de fiscalidades paralelas en los poblados de Los Tuxtlas, Veracruz”

6:00 PM Sesión 5: Juan Pedro Viqueira (El Colegio de México)
“La inculturación del ejido en Chiapas”

7:00 PM cena (in situ)

SÁBADO 24 de octubre
(John Hope Franklin room, 1126 E. 59th St., 224, Chicago, IL)

8:30 AM desayuno

9:00 AM Sesión 6: Helga Baitenmann (University College London)
“El derecho a un juicio justo: El papel del poder judicial en la reforma agraria del siglo XX”

10:00 AM Sesión 7: Vicente Ugalde (El Colegio de México)
“Tribunales agrarios, nuevos espacios de resolución de conflictos”

11:00 AM Sesión 8: Gabriela Torres Mazuera (CIESAS)
“Tenencia de la tierra, relaciones de propiedad y etnicidad: ¿variables codependientes o categorías analíticas de naturaleza distinta?”

12:00 PM Almuerzo

1:00 PM Sesión 9: Christopher Boyer (University of Illinois, Chicago)
“Las peculiaridades de los ejidos forestales”

2:00 PM Sesión 10: Humberto Urquiza (UNAM)
“Conservar desde la Revolución: de restituciones y dotaciones sabemos, de ejidos y conservación poco conocemos”

3:00 PM Sesión 11 (doble): Ann Varley (University College London) y Clara Salazar (El Colegio de México)
“La urbanización del ejido: de los asentamientos irregulares a los conjuntos urbanos”
Clara Salazar (El Colegio de México) y Ann Varley (University College London)
“¿Del ejido a la tierra de nadie? La lógica agraria de la regularización urbana”

4:30 PM receso con bocadillos/vino

5:00 PM Sesión plenaria

6:30 PM Clausura