In Southern California, regional and national myths of agrarian life as pastoral became entwined with paternalistic policy and racialized visions of the Mexican laborer. Re-worked in the context of the New Deal and increasing strike activity across California after 1928, these rural myths and policies shaped plans for the resettlement of Mexican-American workers in self-sustaining villages within Los Angeles County. Under the direction of government officials, reformers, and employers, these plans articulated diverse ideologies and agendas: the New Dealer’s commitment to reform and rehabilitation through planning and paternalism, and the employer’s drive to segregate and racialize labor under a pastoral ideal. Yet the village schemes foundered; weakened by employers’ lack of commitment to worker welfare and fears of rural sedition, by the inconsistencies of the New Deal rehabilitation policy, and by an inability to manipulate the realities of agribusiness. This failure bore testimony to the mythic nature of an agrarian tradition in California.

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