By George L. Henderson
Those essays on California's financial system, tradition, and literature among the Eighties and Twenties convey how rural areas have been remodeled within the photo of capital. the tale informed this is of the genuine and imaginary areas that capital occupied, together with its encounters with the realities and representations of race, gender, and sophistication. starting with the geography and political economic climate of agrarian capitalism, Henderson strikes on to research the celebratory, if fretful, ruminations on financial system in novels via Frank Norris, Mary Austin, and plenty of different writers interested in rural California sooner than John Steinbeck redefined the scene within the 1930s. Read more...
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Su ch w as th e case w ith fru it p rod u ction in th e 1880s: It h ad been p u rsu ed w ith aban d on so th at in th e n ext d ecad e overp rod u ction , w orsen ed by th e 1890s d ep ression , h au n ted Californ ia farm ers on ce again . Un til fru it p rod u cers got m ore firm ly on th eir feet (after th e tu rn of th e cen tu ry), m an y of th em h avin g been d islod ged from agricu ltu re an yw ay, su gar beet p rod u ction an d su gar refin in g—led by th e Sp reckels fam ily— h elp ed bu oy th e tran sition aw ay from grain an d p astu rage.
In Oaklan d an d San Jose, agribu sin esses bu ilt th eir can n eries to p rocess Cen tral Californ ia p rod u ce. In th e largest su ch op eration , ow n ed by Mark Fon tan a, “Th e San ta Clara Valley p rovid ed th e p rod u ce w h ile th e North Beach Italian n eigh borh ood s in San Fran cisco an d sim ilar Italian com m u n ities in San Jose an d Oaklan d su p p lied th e labor,” m ostly im m igran t w om en (Reis 1985). Perh ap s it is too self-evid en t to say, bu t w h eat, cattle, an d p rod u ce—bein g m aterial com m od ities—n eed ed m aterial lan d scap es for th eir su rvival at every stage of th eir p rod u ction .
2 Boosted by th e p eriod ic m igration of n ew m on ey, Californ ia’s su rp lu s valu es n ot on ly circu lated in p lace, allow in g sin gle com m od ity sectors to p rosp er, bu t w ere sw itch ed from on e sector to an oth er in an in ten sifyin g brew of ru ral com m od ity p rod u ction an d in n ovation . No sin gle essay can d o an yth in g n ear ju stice to th e story of th ese com m od ity revolu tion s. Th e p oin t of th is ch ap ter is to sim p ly tease ou t for u n fam iliar read ers a th u m bn ail sketch of ru ral Californ ia’s com m od ity h istory th rou gh d iscu ssion of its m ajor featu res—th e sh ift to an d ou t of w h eat; large-scale an d som etim es h yp ercom m od ified ap p rop riation s of lan d an d w ater; th e rise of h igh -valu e sp ecialty crop s an d th e econ om y of lan d su bd ivision ; th e p roblem of m arkets; th e u n even d evelop m en t of th e irrigation ap p aratu s; an d th e w id er social d ivision of labor, 3 4 MAKING GEO GRAPHIES w h ich con n ected ru ral an d u rban econ om ies to each oth er.