Product Details

Social Hist Mexico's RRs cloth
Teresa Van Hoy
Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN or Item #
Date Listed:
2008-04-01 10:17:35
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A Social History of Mexico's Railroads

Peons, Prisoners, and Priests

By Teresa Van Hoy.

Cloth with dust jacket (also available softcover), 5.5x8, 272 pages, notes, bibliography, index.

from the publisher:

"How refreshing! At last we have a study about modernization and capital penetration in Latin America that takes into account ordinary citizens—and not merely as victims but as agents. Van Hoy has done research in a wide range of documents that reveal life along the tracks, where Mexican workers entered freely into labor contracts, small holders negotiated favorable settlements from bureaucrats, suppliers developed local businesses, and the poor also caught the travel bug. Moreover, her analysis of Mexican railways during the Porfiriato forces us historians to reassess our views of the period as well as our conceptions of the social costs of development."—Jonathan C. Brown, University of Texas

"Largely absent from our history books is the social history of railroad development in nineteenth-century Mexico, which promoted rapid economic growth that greatly benefited elites but also heavily impacted rural and provincial Mexican residents in communities traversed by the rails. In this beautifully written and original book, Teresa Van Hoy connects foreign investment in Mexico, largely in railroad development, with its effects on the people living in the isthmus of Tehuantepec, Mexico's region of greatest ethnic diversity.

"[readers] will be drawn to a fascinating cast of characters, as muleteers, artisans, hacienda peons, convict laborers, dockworkers, priests, and the rural police force (rurales) join railroad regulars in this rich social history. New empirical evidence, some drawn from two private collections, elaborates on the huge informal economy that supported railroad development. Railroad officials sought to gain access to local resources such as land, water, construction materials, labor, customer patronage, and political favors. Residents, in turn, maneuvered to maximize their gains from the wages, contracts, free passes, surplus materials, and services (including piped water) controlled by the railroad. Those areas of Mexico suffering poverty and isolation attracted public investment and infrastructure. A Social History of Mexico's Railroads is the dynamic story of the people and times that were changed by the railroads and is sure to engage students and general readers alike.

"Teresa Van Hoy is assistant professor of history at St. Mary's University."