Frontiers in the Gilded Age Adventure, Capitalism, and Dispossession from Southern Africa to the U.S.-Mexican Borderlands, 1880-1917 Andrew Offenburger

The Lamar Series in Western History
Publication date:
13 Aug 2019
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156 x 27mm
23 b-w illus.
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The surprising connections between the American frontier and empire in southern Africa, and the people who participated in both

“A valuable first step toward creating a global history of the concepts of the frontier, borderlands, and colonialism.”—Carol Higham, Reviews in American History

This book begins in an era when romantic notions of American frontiering overlapped with Gilded Age extractive capitalism. In the late nineteenth century, the U.S.-Mexican borderlands constituted one stop of many where Americans chased capitalist dreams beyond the United States. Crisscrossing the American West, southern Africa, and northern Mexico, Andrew Offenburger examines how these frontier spaces could glitter with grandiose visions, expose the flawed and immoral strategies of profiteers, and yet reveal the capacity for resistance and resilience that indigenous people summoned when threatened. Linking together a series of stories about Boer exiles who settled in Mexico, a global network of protestant missionaries, and adventurers involved in the parallel displacements of indigenous peoples in Rhodesia and the Yaqui Indians in Mexico, Offenburger situates the borderlands of the Mexican North and the American Southwest within a global system, bound by common actors who interpreted their lives through a shared frontier ideology.

Andrew Offenburger is assistant professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In 2014–2015 he was the David J. Weber Postdoctoral Fellow for the Study of Southwestern America at the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies.

“[A] readable and insightful work”—Christoph Strobel, Western Historical Quarterly

“In this dramatic narrative peopled with an extraordinary cast of larger than life characters, Andrew Offenburger manages to weave together African, U.S., Mexican, and Indigenous history into a devastating portrait of the dark underside of global capitalist expansion during the Gilded Age."—Karl Jacoby, author of The Strange Career of William Ellis: The Texas Slave Who Became a Mexican Millionaire

“Andrew Offenburger provides a smart, engaging, and revealing examination of the connectedness of the western U.S., northern Mexico, and Southern Africa through the ideas and actions of capitalists, adventurers, missionaries, and indigenous peoples from 1880-1920. In doing so, he prompts us to think broadly and creatively about the parameters of both the Global West and the Gilded Age, as well as the social Darwinistic frontier ideology that connected the British and American Empires.”— David Wrobel, author of America’s West: A History, 1890-1950