During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, people living in the coffee-producing region of the Sierra Madre mountains along the Pacific Coast of Mexico and Guatemala paid little
attention to national borders. The Mexican Revolution,—particularly during the 1930s reconstruction phase—ruptured economic and social continuity because access to revolutionary reforms depended
on claiming Mexican national identity. Impoverished, often indigenous rural workers on both sides of the border used shifting ideas of citizenship and cultural belonging to gain power and protect
their economic and social interests.
Nolan-Ferrell's book is a significant contribution to the field. Her narrative carries the reader through the processes by which workers, immigrant and native planters, and hacendados, politicos, statesmen, and elites came to utilize flexible notions of citizenship.
—Heather McCrea, author of Diseased Relations: Epidemics, Public Health, and State-Building in Yucatán, Mexico, 1847-1924
With this book Catherine Nolan-Ferrell builds on recent theoretical approaches to state formation and transnationalism to explore the ways that
governments, elites, and marginalized laborers claimed and contested national borders. By investigating how various groups along the Mexico–Guatemala border negotiated nationality, Constructing
Citizenship offers insights into the complex development of transnational communities, the links between identity and citizenship, and the challenges of integrating disparate groups into a
cohesive nation. Entwined with a labor history of rural workers, Nolan-Ferrell also shows how labor struggles were a way for poor Mexicans and migrant Guatemalans to assert claims to national
political power and social inclusion.
Combining oral histories with documentary research from local, regional, and national archives to provide a complete picture of how rural laborers along
Mexico's southern border experienced the years before, during, and after the Mexican Revolution, this book will appeal not only to Mexicanists but also to scholars interested in transnational
identity, border studies, social justice, and labor history.