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Landscape of MigrationMobility and Environmental Change on Bolivia's Tropical Frontier, 1952 to the Present$
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Ben Nobbs-Thiessen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469656106

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469656106.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 21 September 2021

A Sort of Backwoods Guerrilla Warfare

A Sort of Backwoods Guerrilla Warfare

Mexican Mennonites and the South American Soy Boom, 1967–Present

(p.187) Chapter Five A Sort of Backwoods Guerrilla Warfare
Landscape of Migration

Ben Nobbs-Thiessen

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores the intertwined migration and expansion of two temperate zone transplants—Mennonites and soybeans—in semitropical Santa Cruz. The transnational history of Bolivian Mennonites offers several interrelated ironies that drive home the paradox of national development in lowland Bolivia. A revolutionary nation-state that sought to use colonization to transform traditional Indigenous subjects into citizens welcomed foreign Mennonites and explicitly freed them from the central components of modern citizenship. Seeking to develop modern, market-oriented agribusiness on its eastern frontier, the MNR invited a traditionalist agricultural community that shunned a wide range of technological innovations. Yet, surprisingly, horse-and-buggy Mexican Mennonites emerged over the following fifty years as exactly the sort of model, mechanized farmers the Bolivian state hoped to create of its own citizenry. In particular, the chapter situates Mennonites amid the dramatic expansion of late twentieth century soybean production that has converted the forested heart of the continent into the world’s preeminent soy region. By then, the logic of the March to the East had definitively shifted from national self-sufficiency to the export of profitable cash crops. Mennonites stood at the center of this neo-extractivism even as they continued to produce dairy within an earlier logic of food security.

Keywords:   Mennonites, Soybeans, Agribusiness, Food Security, Extractivism

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