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Andrew Offenburger

Greenleaf Visiting Library Scholar


PhD Student
Yale University

Photo: Andrew  Offenburger

Andrew Offenburger received a Greenleaf Visiting Library Award in Fall 2011 to support research on When the American West Turned South: Development and Dispossession in the U.S.- Mexican Borderlands, 1853-1929. At the time, he was a doctoral student in the Department of History at Yale University.

Offenburger's research follows the historical trajectory of capitalist development in the U.S. West from southern Colorado to northern Mexico, and by doing so his work explores the many variations of dispossession. Through this research, Andrew aims to engage studies of the US West with those of Latin America and other colonial historiographies more broadly.



Title of Research : When the American West Turned South: Development and Dispossession in the U.S.- Mexican Borderlands, 1853-1929

While at UNM, Andrew drew upon library archives to identify visual and textual evidence related to development in northern Mexico and destabilization with the early Mexican Revolution. Wagon trains on the Santa Fe Trail. Veins of gold in southern Colorado. Irrigation canals in the Pecos and Mesilla Valleys. Railroad lines into Chihuahua and Sonora. These were the channels of capitalist development in the U.S. West and the U.S.-Mexican borderlands, the means by which financiers and entrepreneurs powered western expansion. This study followed these conduits of capital from the Gadsden Purchase through the Mexican Revolution, and it shows how the West "turned south" into Mexico in the early twentieth century. Furthermore, this work revealed the myriad ways that capitalist development inevitably led to dispossession: of Native Americans, of fortune seekers, of farmers, of peons, and, on rare occasions, of the elite. By thus complicating the binary of dispossessor and dispossessed, this research suggests that iconic images of dispossession in the nineteenth century result from the same global processes persisting into the twentieth.