California & the fictions of capital by George L. Henderson

By George L. Henderson

Those essays on California's economic system, tradition, and literature among the Eighties and Twenties convey how rural areas have been remodeled within the photo of capital. the tale informed here's 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 system of agrarian capitalism, Henderson strikes on to  Read more...

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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.

Am on g th ese colon ies w as th e Cen tral Colon y, brain ch ild of lan d an d w h eat baron William Ch ap m an an d Bern ard Marks, a San Fran cisco sp ecu lator in agricu ltu ral lan d s. Th is colon y an d an oth er, th e Wash in gton Colon y, in stigated a m in or boom in th e Fresn o area. By 1886, th ere w ere 21 colon ies coverin g ap p roxim ately 45,000 acres an d h ou sin g 7,500 resid en ts. As in vestors h ad h op ed , lan d valu es rose sh arp ly. Lan d sellin g at $2 p er acre in 1870 w as available by 1890 for $50 to $100 p er acre, or p oten tially trip le th at if u n d er d itch .

Th ese p ion eer agricu ltu ral en terp rises,” Teagu e con clu d ed , “are sp len d id exam p les of w h at th e bu sin ess en terp rise system , actu ated by in d ivid u al in itiative an d th e p rofit m otive, h as m ean t to Am erica” (139). Land Subdivision Wh en grain p rices d ip p ed , th e m ost p rofitable cou rse for m an y large lan d h old ers to follow w as n ot to au tom atically con vert to fru it or vin e, bu t to sell th e lan d or som e su bd ivid ed p ortion of it—th u s th e ascen d an ce of sp ecialty agricu ltu re in th e San Joaqu in Valley, Sou th ern Californ ia, an d th e Im p erial Valley.

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