Special Section: Mexican water studies in the Mexico-US borderlands

The Transnational dimensions of Mexican irrigation, 1900-1950



In the growing field of Mexican water history, the influence of foreign people and ideas has scarcely been recognized. The transnational dimensions of this history, however, are strong and manifold, and this article outlines an avenue of research on the topic. Commercial agriculture in the Southwest US was a model for agricultural development in Northern Mexico, and in consequence, influenced its irrigation politics. Also, engineers and engineering institutions in the two countries worked closely to carry out the model of largescale irrigation followed by the Mexican government, especially during the first decade (1926-1935) of existence of the Mexican National Irrigation Commission (the Comision Nacional de Irrigación, or CNI). In particular, the White Engineering Company, a U.S. company, played a significant role in jump-starting irrigation in Mexico. Finally, the economic viability of Mexico's new irrigated zones was linked closely to a cotton economy centered in the U.S, but which incorporated northern Mexico during and after the Revolution. By outlining this transnational water history, this article contributes to an effort to rethink and refine historical narratives about the subordination of Mexico to its northern neighbor.

Keywords: irrigation, northern Mexico, politics of irrigation

How to Cite: Aguilar, L. A. (2012) “The Transnational dimensions of Mexican irrigation, 1900-1950”, Journal of Political Ecology. 19(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/v19i1.21717