History in the Making

Document Type



The California citrus industry was the engine for the economic and cultural development of twentieth century Southern California. Studies have also focused on citrus as specialty crop agriculture. Its labor usage pattern required the economic, social, and political powerlessness of its workers. Growers and workers shared the spaces of the citrus groves and packinghouses, but otherwise led largely separate lives, delineated by class and race. Community formation during the Great Depression is examined from each perspective – dominant Anglo grower society and workers of Mexican descent. Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism provides a cultural anthropological framework, in which community forming processes of the separate groups are examined. This article aims to contribute to the literature by focusing where possible on the experiences of the small landholding “ranchers,” who collectively held the power of large landholders, and on the experiences of Mexican workers, who despite marginalization, pooled their economic and social resources, and persisted in place.