Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Michael Faubion

Second Advisor

Dr. Gregory Gilson

Third Advisor

Dr. Sonia Hernandez


Between 1920 and 1970 laborers in Hidalgo County were degraded and ranked among the lowest paid workers in the nation. Colonizers including land developers seeking to exploit the commercial agriculture potential of the Rio Grande Valley divided the working poor along race, gender, and class lines. Such labor strategy allowed Anglo Americans and in some cases elite Mexicans to subjugate working class Mexicans and Mexican Americans to substandard wages and miserable working conditions. This thesis argues the origin of the degradation of the working poor by analyzing wages, work conditions, race relations, and gendered dimensions of labor in the region. Overall, this thesis defines the working poor as people who have not accumulated wealth. Colonizers, represented by landed elites who mainly invested in commercial agriculture and modern irrigation believed in a society grounded in a racial and class based hierarchy which guided much of their ideas about labor.


Copyright 2012 Edward David Avila. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American

Included in

History Commons