Strangers on Familiar Soil

Rediscovering the Chile-California Connection

Edward Dallam Melillo

View Inside Price: $40.00


October 20, 2015
352 pages, 6-1/8 x 9-1/4
24 b/w illus.
ISBN: 9780300206623
Cloth

Also Available in:
Paper

A wide-ranging exploration of the diverse historical connections between Chile and California

This groundbreaking history explores the many unrecognized, enduring linkages between the state of California and the country of Chile. The book begins in 1786, when a French expedition brought the potato from Chile to California, and it concludes with Chilean president Michelle Bachelet’s diplomatic visit to the Golden State in 2008. During the intervening centuries, new crops, foods, fertilizers, mining technologies, laborers, and ideas from Chile radically altered California's development. In turn, Californian systems of servitude, exotic species, educational programs, and capitalist development strategies dramatically shaped Chilean history.
 
Edward Dallam Melillo develops a new set of historical perspectives—tracing eastward-moving trends in U.S. history, uncovering South American influences on North America’s development, and reframing the Western Hemisphere from a Pacific vantage point. His innovative approach yields transnational insights and recovers long-forgotten connections between the peoples and ecosystems of Chile and California.

Edward Dallam Melillo is associate professor of history and environmental studies, Amherst College. He lives in Northampton, MA.

“Melillo has written what could be called a double-helix history that reveals the environmental, social, and commercial bonds between Chile and California. It is a major contribution to the emerging field of Pacific World history.”—Christopher Boyer, author of Political Landscapes: Forests, Conservation, and Community in Mexico

“This is a gem of a book: deeply researched, elegantly written, original in its conception, beautiful in its execution.”—Raymond Craib, Cornell University

“An empirically rich, well written, and wide-ranging history that provides a novel perspective on important transnational connections in the Americas.”—John Soluri, Carnegie Mellon University

“Melillo's pithy book insightfully explores how California helped make Chile and how Chile helped make California over the past two centuries. Politically astute, ecologically attuned, and easy to read.”—J. R. McNeill, author of Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1620-1914

“Melillo brilliantly centers this hemispheric history around Chile and California—two places increasingly connected over the past 200 years by crops, technologies, people, and ideas. Strangers on Familiar Soil demonstrates the tremendous potential and necessity of transnational and comparative history. This is a stunning accomplishment.”—David Igler, author of The Great Ocean: Pacific Worlds from Captain Cook to the Gold Rush

“A fascinating story of how Chile and California, on separate continents, sharing comparable climates and geography, have had dramatic reciprocal social and environmental impacts, initially fueled by the California Gold Rush.”—Harold Mooney, Stanford University

“By paying attention to Chile and California’s mirror-image geographies as well as their long-term environmental and social connections, Melillo effectively recontextualizes the development patterns of the Americas.”—Publishers Weekly

“[A]mbitious, fascinating, and highly readable . . . always far more than a synthesis of commodity history . . . The strength of Strangers on Familiar Soil lies in the sum of its many parts. Melillo innovatively models a transnational history of the Americas that is certain to inspire future scholarship.”—Heidi Tinsman, Hispanic American Historical Review

“In analyzing the spiritual parallels between Chile and California, Melillo excels. His writing is brisk and concise . . . It is testament to Melillo’s skill as a historian, and a service to Californians and Chileans alike, that he was able to uncover—and preserve—this rich history.”—Benjamin Russell, Americas Quarterly

“This wonderful book weaves together captivating anecdotes with analysis of environmental interactions and economic exchanges between California and Chile in order to reimagine the making of the Americas.”—Foreign Affairs

“This is a fascinating, well-crafted history of what the author calls the many ‘displacements,’ ‘exchanges,’ and ‘influences’ between Chile and California.”—A. Vergara, Choice

“Melillo digs deeply to demonstrate the important relationship between [California and Chile], and the lasting impact—often unacknowledged—that each has had on the other”—Gregory Weeks, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Strangers on Familiar Soil, in its many excavations of the things that did and still connect Chile and California, will no doubt inspire future work in transnational history and the Pacific world.”—Lori A. Flores, Agricultural History

"Strangers on Familiar Soil weaves together some fairly well-known histories with groundbreaking new material while demonstrating brilliantly how a transnational Pacific world focus can shift the way we narrate national and regional histories."—Thomas Klubock, Journal of American History

"A pathbreaking environmental history of the long-standing connections between Chile and California."—Thomas Klubock, Journal of American History

"Melillo adds to the larger project of decentering a narrative of westward expansion and development in favor of an interconnected Pacific world where Latin American influences have a place in California history and where historians discuss maritime contacts alongside the westward expansion of colonial powers."—John Ryan Fischer, American Historical Review

“[Melillo] brings to bear a well-researched and forceful argument to scholarship challenging the idea that the United States was shaped almost exclusively by the Atlantic World. . . . [A] lively narrative.”—James Gerber, Americas

“[B]eautifully conceived, researched, and written . . . this book is the model of what [transnational environmental history] should be.”—Sterling Evans, Environmental History

Strangers on Familiar Soil is quietly direct, with sharply drawn stories adorned with meticulous details. It reads like an extended story from The Atlantic; intellectual and approachable.”Brooke Penaluna, Northwest Science

Strangers on Familiar Soil is a pathbreaking book. . . . It will long stand as a model to US environmental and western historians of how to transcend local, regional, and national history and make visible the connections that bind the Americas together in a common story.”—Stacey L. Smith, Labor

Strangers on Familiar Soil is a conceptually interesting and important work that moves us a step closer to a truly hemispheric history of the Americas.”—Geraldo L. Cadava, Pacific Historical Review

Co-winner of the 2016 Caughey Western History Prize, given by the Western History Association

Named an Honor book by the Denver Public Library for the 2016 Caroline Bancroft History Prize.
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