The Colonias Reader: Economy, Housing, and Public Health in U.S.-Mexico Border Colonias

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Angela J. Donelson, Adrian X. Esparza
University of Arizona Press, May 15, 2010 - Social Science - 288 pages
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The colonias of the U.S.–Mexico border form a loose network of more than 2,500 settlements, ranging in size from villages to cities, that are home to over a million people. While varying in size, all share common features: wrenching poverty, substandard housing, and public health issues approaching crisis levels. This book brings together scholars, professionals, and activists from a wide range of disciplines to examine the pressing issues of economic development, housing and community development, and public and environmental health in colonias of the four U.S.–Mexico border states.

The Colonias Reader is the first book to present such a broad overview of these communities, offering a glimpse into life in the colonias and the circumstances that allow them to continue to exist—and even grow—in persistent poverty. The contributors document the depth of existing problems in each state and describe how government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and community activists have mobilized resources to overcome obstacles to progress.

More than reporting problems and documenting programs, the book provides conceptual frameworks that tie poverty to institutional and class-based conflicts, and even challenges the very basis of colonia designations. Most of these contributions move beyond portraying border residents as hapless victims of discrimination and racism, showing instead their devotion to improving their own living conditions through grassroots organizing and community leadership.

These contributions show that, despite varying degrees of success, all colonia residents aspire to a livable wage, safe and decent housing, and basic health care. The Colonias Reader showcases many situations in which these people have organized to fulfill these ambitions and provides new insight into life along the border.
 

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Contents

Introduction
4
The U S Mexico Border Economy
15
Economic Development in New Mexicos Colonias
44
Arizonas Evolving Colonias Economy
57
Agricultural Prosperity Rural Poverty and Californias
72
Colonia Housing and Community Development
87
Housing in Texas Colonias
101
Sustainable Affordable Homeownership in Arizona and
115
Conditions of Health in Borderland
163
Colonias Health Issues in Texas
176
Urbanization and Environmental Health in Arizona
204
Environmental Pollution and Quality of Life in Imperial Valleys
218
A Sustainability Praxis for the Future of Colonias Development
235
Works Cited
247
About the Editors
277
Index
285

Farmworkers Housing and Californias Colonias
146

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About the author (2010)

Angela J. Donelson is president of Donelson Consulting in Tucson and co-author of Colonias in Arizona and New Mexico: Border Poverty and Community Development Solutions, also published by the University of Arizona Press. Adrian X. Esparza is an associate professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Arizona. He is co-author of Colonias in Arizona and New Mexico: Border Poverty and Community Development Solutions, also published by the University of Arizona Press.

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