A Fate Worse than Debt: The Rise and Fall of Peonage in the US-Mexico Borderlands


Mellon/ACLS Community College Faculty Fellowships




“A Fate Worse than Debt” looks at the practice of debt peonage in the southwestern borderlands of the United States up to and beyond the era of Reconstruction. Debt peonage was a form of servile labor throughout the region that is today the US Southwest. Yet, despite its ubiquity in this region, peonage has not yet received much scholarly attention. Most scholarship on peonage in the United States focuses on African Americans in the post-Civil War South. Through uncovering the practice of debt peonage and the effect of this institution on Latino/as through the US-Mexico borderlands, this project further complicates the national narrative of slavery and freedom. “A Fate Worse than Debt” brings a more complex and thorough understanding of emancipation in the United States, its effect on Latino/as and Native Americans, and even its effects south of the border in Mexico.