SLSA MEMBER JOHN WEBER HELPS REWRITE TEXAS MYTHOLOGY IN NEW BOOK
SLSA member John Weber’s new book, From South Texas to the Nation: The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century is now available from the University of North Carolina Press. Indiana University’s Alex Lichtenstein says the book “is an absolutely terrific work that is clearly written, thoroughly researched, and sweeping in its chronological scope” adding, “The story Weber tells will be relevant to contemporary debates about the nature of immigration and low-wage labor markets.” Raúl A. Ramos from the University of Houston notes that the book “provides innovative insights to American labor history and our understanding of the modern state.” A recent review in Texas Monthly asserts that From South Texas to the Nation is part of a trio of new books helping to rewrite the mythology surrounding Texas.
The University of North Carolina Press summarizes the book, saying, “In the early years of the twentieth century, newcomer farmers and migrant Mexicans forged a new world in South Texas. In just a decade, this vast region, previously considered too isolated and desolate for large-scale agriculture, became one of the United States’ most lucrative farming regions and one of its worst places to work. By encouraging mass migration from Mexico, paying low wages, selectively enforcing immigration restrictions, toppling older political arrangements, and periodically immobilizing the workforce, growers created a system of labor controls unique in its levels of exploitation. Ethnic Mexican residents of South Texas fought back by organizing and by leaving, migrating to destinations around the United States where employers eagerly hired them–and continued to exploit them. In From South Texas to the Nation, John Weber reinterprets the United States’ record on human and labor rights. This important book illuminates the way in which South Texas pioneered the low-wage, insecure, migration-dependent labor system on which so many industries continue to depend.”
John Weber is is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History. He received his Ph.D. and M.A from the College of William and Mary, and B.A. from Vanderbilt University. In 2009-2010, he was a Visiting Assistant Professor at Texas A&M University-Kingsville. Prior to that, he was the Summerlee Foundation Fellow in Texas History for the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at Southern Methodist University. He has held adjunct teaching positions at William and Mary, the University of Richmond, and Thomas Nelson Community College.