Faucets and Fertilizers: Interpreting Technological Change in Rural Oaxaca, Mexico, 1946-1988
Walker, Joshua Charles
Vaughan, Mary Kay
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Faucets and Fertilizers: Interpreting Technological Change in Rural Oaxaca, Mexico, 1946-1988 argues that peasant farmers in Oaxaca were key actors who helped to oversee the technological modernization of their villages in the twentieth century. From the 1940s to the 1980s, federal and state development programs sought to introduce new tools like chemical fertilizers, water faucets, roads, and mechanical corn grinders to villages in the countryside. These programs were often unevenly distributed and poorly designed, forcing peasants to rely on old skills and customs in order to acquire and use the technologies they wanted. As peasants learned about the benefits of the technologies, they also learned to use them to challenge the power of family patriarchs, village elders, and federal leaders. Far from being the passive victims of modernization described in the historiography of rural Mexico, Oaxacan peasants participated in technological change and used new tools in an attempt to overcome problems with low crop production and restricted mobility.