Bound in Twine: The History and Ecology of the Henequen-Wheat Complex for Mexico and the American and Canadian Plains, 1880-1950

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Texas A&M University Press, 2007 - Great Plains - 334 pages
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Before the invention of the combine, the binder was an essential harvesting implement that cut grain and bound the stalks in bundles tied with twine that could then be hand-gathered into shocks for threshing. Hundreds of thousands of farmers across the United States and Canada relied on binders and the twine required for the machine's operation. Implement manufacturers discovered that the best binder twine was made from henequen and sisal--spiny, fibrous plants native to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.
The double dependency that subsequently developed between Mexico and the Great Plains of the United States and Canada affected the agriculture, ecology, and economy of all three nations in ways that have historically been little understood. These interlocking dependencies--identified by author Sterling Evans as the "henequen-wheat complex"--initiated or furthered major ecological, social, and political changes in each of these agricultural regions.
Drawing on extensive archival work as well as the existing secondary literature, Evans has woven an intricate story that will change our understanding of the complex, transnational history of the North American continent.

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This is a thoroughly researched and well-written book. It will be interesting and useful for anyone interested in details of the history of sisal fiber as well as natural fibers in generals. I had the opportunity to visit a hennequin museum-hacienda near Merida, Mexico, and find this aspect of history to be fascinating. 


On the History of Binders and Twine Agricultural and Industrial Transformations in North America
Yucatáns Henequen Industry Social and Environmental Transformations
Yaquis in Yucatán Imported Slave Labor and the Sonora Connection
Twine Diplomacy Yucatán the United States and Canada during the Sisal Situationof 1915
PrisonMade Twine The Role of the Penitentiaries in the Henequen Wheat Complex
Decline Depression and Drought Economic and Environmental Change in the Great Plains and Yucatán 1916
Competition and Combines The End of the Henequen Wheat Story
Bound in Twine

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Page xix - From a cultural perspective, the production of commodities is also a cultural and cognitive process: commodities must be not only produced materially as things, but also culturally marked as being a certain kind of thing.
Page xviii - For the economist, commodities simply are. That is, certain things and rights to things are produced, exist, and can be seen to circulate through the economic system as they are being exchanged for other things, usually in exchange for money.

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