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The Devil in Silicon Valley:
Northern California, Race, and Mexican Americans
Stephen J. Pitti

Paperback | 2004 | $41.95 | ($25.17) / £28.95 | (£17.37) | ISBN: 9780691118468
320 pp. | 6 x 9 | 26 halftones. 9 tables.
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This sweeping history explores the growing Latino presence in the United States over the past two hundred years. It also debunks common myths about Silicon Valley, one of the world's most influential but least-understood places. Far more than any label of the moment, the devil of racism has long been Silicon Valley's defining force, and Stephen Pitti argues that ethnic Mexicans--rather than computer programmers--should take center stage in any contemporary discussion of the "new West."

Pitti weaves together the experiences of disparate residents--early Spanish-Mexican settlers, Gold Rush miners, farmworkers transplanted from Texas, Chicano movement activists, and late-twentieth-century musicians--to offer a broad reevaluation of the American West. Based on dozens of oral histories as well as unprecedented archival research, The Devil in Silicon Valley shows how San José, Santa Clara, and other northern California locales played a critical role in the ongoing development of Latino politics.

This is a transnational history. In addition to considering the past efforts of immigrant and U.S.-born miners, fruit cannery workers, and janitors at high-tech firms--many of whom retained strong ties to Mexico--Pitti describes the work of such well-known Valley residents as César Chavez. He also chronicles the violent opposition ethnic Mexicans have faced in Santa Clara Valley. In the process, he reinterprets not only California history but the Latino political tradition and the story of American labor.

This book follows California race relations from the Franciscan missions to the Gold Rush, from the New Almaden mine standoff to the Apple janitorial strike. As the first sustained account of Northern California's Mexican American history, it challenges conventional thinking and tells a fascinating story. Bringing the past to bear on the present, The Devil in Silicon Valley is counter-history at its best.


"Pitti is a scholar with an eye for the telling detail and a passion for social justice that turns his monograph into both a saga and a manifesto."--Jonathan Kirsch, Los Angeles Times Book Review

"Pitti's book . . . serves to correct a Mexican American historiography that has focused almost exclusively on southern California. Pitti argues that northern California has been too dynamic economically to be ignored by historians of ethnic minorities. His analysis focuses on the entwining of economic development, racism, and the formation of racialized Mexican communities over two centuries."--Donna R. Gabaccia, American Historical Review


"Set in a valley of immense wealth and extensive poverty, Stephen Pitti's expansive history of Latinos in the San Jose region stretches across a vast period of history, highlighting both the enormous contribution of Mexican-origin people to the area's economy, culture, and political development and the 'devil of discrimination' that has shaped growth in the Silicon Valley from the beginning. A masterful accomplishment!"--George Sanchez, University of Southern California.

"Vestiges of the Devil in the form of historical racist ideologies and social inequalities from California's Spanish, Mexican, and American periods stubbornly persist in today's Silicon Valley. Stephen Pitti presents the seldom-told and hard-to-find causes of this dark and sometimes violent and discriminatory side of Silicon Valley's history, describing its continuing detrimental effects on its old and still emerging Latino population, which has been left behind again in the latest wave of economic success."--Fernando R. Zazueta, Founding Chairman of the Board, Mexican Heritage Corporation of San Jose

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File created: 11/20/2015

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