Life and Labor on the Border

Working People of Northeastern Sonora, Mexico, 1886–1986

by Josiah McC. Heyman
Contributors: Josiah McC. Heyman

For thousands of Mexican laborers, life among the United States border represents an opportunity both to earn wages and to gain access to consumer goods; for anthropologist Josiah Heyman this labor force presents an opportunity to gain a better understanding of working people, "to uncover the order underlying the history of waged lives."

Life and Labor on the Border traces the development of the urban working class in northern Sonora over the period of a century. Drawing on an extensive collection of life histories, Heyman describes what has happened to families over several generations as people have left the countryside to work for American-owned companies in northern Sonora or to cross the border to find other employment.

Heyman's work dispels the notion that border inhabitants are uniformly impoverished or corrupted by proximity to the United States. These life stories instead convey the positive sense of people's goals in life and reveal the origins of a distinctive way of life in the Borderlands.
This project also includes a new reflective essay written by the author in 2021.





  • isbn
  • publisher
    University of Arizona Press
  • publisher place
    Tucson, AZ
  • rights
    CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
  • rights holder
    University of Arizona Press