Mining the Borderlands: Industry, Capital, and the Emergence of Engineers in the Southwest Territories, 1855-1910

Mining the Borderlands: Industry, Capital, and the Emergence of Engineers in the Southwest Territories, 1855-1910

by Sarah E. M. Grossman


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At the dawn of the twentieth century, the US-Mexico border was home to some of the largest and most technologically advanced industrial copper mines. This despite being geographically, culturally, and financially far-removed from traditional urban centers of power. Mining the Borderlands argues that this was only possible because of the emergence of mining engineers—a distinct technocratic class of professionals who connected capital, labor, and expertise. 

Mining engineers moved easily between remote mining camps and the upscale parlors of east coast investors. Working as labor managers and technical experts, they were involved in the daily negotiations, which brought private US capital to the southwestern border. The success of the massive capital-intensive mining ventures in the region depended on their ability to construct different networks, serving as intermediaries to groups that rarely coincided. 

Grossman argues that this didn’t just lead to bigger and more efficient mines, but served as part of the ongoing project of American territorial and economic expansion. By integrating the history of technical expertise into the history of the transnational mining industry, this in-depth look at borderlands mining explains how American economic hegemony was established in a border region peripheral to the federal governments of both Washington, D.C. and Mexico City.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943859832
Publisher: University of Nevada Press
Publication date: 10/01/2018
Series: Mining and Society Series
Edition description: 1
Pages: 184
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range: 3 Months to 18 Years

About the Author

Sarah Grossman is the editor of the Southeast Asia Program Publications imprint at Cornell University Press in Ithaca, NY. She received her Ph.D. in US history from the University of New Mexico.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii

Introduction: Industrial Transnationalism in the Late Nineteenth Century 3

Chapter 1 Early Mining in the Borderlands: The Limits of "Intelligence and Capital" 23

Chapter 2 Instituting Expertise: Mining Education in the United States 44

Chapter 3 Westering Easterners: Class, Masculinity, and Labor 67

Chapter 4 Rhetoric and Risk: The Performance of Objectivity at the Copper Queen Mine 89

Chapter 5 Corporate Capitalism: Engineers and the Birth of Mass Mining 111

Chapter 6 Legibility and the Technocratic Landscape 132

Conclusion: Mediating Resources 153

Bibliography 159

Index 169

About the Author 175

What People are Saying About This

Carlos Schwantes

“Grossman’s account of the professionalization of the mining engineer is a fascinating addition to the existing literature on the professionalization of work cultures in late 19th Century America…The book is well-researched and well-written and will be a worthy addition to the history of mining, the history of the American West, and the history of economic enterprise, and especially as the latter pertains to risk assessment.

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