In California history, the contributions of ethnic and immigrant agriculturalists continue to be misrepresented and misunderstood. Rural California studies are just emerging out of the shadow cast by Carey McWilliams’s 1939 exposé Factories in the Field, which cemented a monolithic image of white, detached owners of large landholdings running industrial farms, while people of color toiled without power, safety, or a livable wage. McWilliams was not necessarily incorrect, but the reality is far more complex. The following article seeks to recover some of the stories obscured by broad brush strokes of California agricultural history by examining the local dynamics of ethnic participation and interethnic cooperation in one agricultural region. While this work does not necessarily dismiss the economic relations that have been described in previous literature, it does challenge the racial and ethnic categorization of those relations and reveals the truly multicultural nature of the development of California agriculture. The evidence also prompts a reconsideration of nativism in local settings, especially in tight-knit communities with integrated industry, where the manifestation of nativist activity or sentiment was often subdued or qualified.

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