Company town. Blighted community. Beloved home. Nestled on the banks of the Rio Grande, at the heart of a railroad, mining, and smelting empire, Smeltertown-La Esmelda, as its residents called it-was home to generations of ethnic Mexicans who labored at the American Smelting and Refining Company in El Paso, Texas.
Using newspapers, personal archives, photographs, employee records, parish newsletters, and interviews with former residents, including her own relatives, Monica Perales unearths me history of this forgotten community. Spanning almost a century, Smeltertown traces the birth, growth, and ultimate demise of a working-class community in the largest U.S. city on the Mexican border and places ethnic Mexicans at the center of transnational capitalism and the making of the urban West. Perales shows that Smeltertown was composed of multiple real and imagined social worlds created by the company, the church, the schools, and the residents themselves. Within these dynamic social worlds, residents forged permanence and meaning in the shadow of the smelter's giant smokestacks. Smeltertown provides insight into how people and places invent and reinvent themselves and illuminates a vibrant community grappling with its sense of itself and its place in history and collective memory.
|Publisher:||The University of North Carolina Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
About the Author
Monica Perales is assistant professor of history at the University of Houston.
Table of Contents
Part I Making Places
1 Making a Border City 21
2 Creating Smeltertown 57
Part II Making Identities
3 We're Just Smelter People 97
4 We Were One Hundred Percent Mexican 149
5 She Was Very American 185
Part III Remembering Smeltertown
6 The Demise of Smeltertown 225
Epilogue Finding Smeltertown 261
What People are Saying About This
From beginning to end, I was deeply impressed with the pacing and flow of Perales's narrative, by her vivid descriptions, by her oral historical work and archival digging, and by the many actors (including her family members) whom she brings to broad attention for the first time.Stephen J. Pitti, author of The Devil in Silicon Valley: Race, Mexican Americans, and Northern California