Frontiers in the Gilded Age:
Adventure, Capitalism, and Dispossession from Southern Africa to the Mexican North
Forthcoming (early 2019) from Yale University Press, Frontiers in the Gilded Age shows how the American West, southern Africa, and northern Mexico shared a unique kind of frontier history from 1880 to 1917. Capitalists, adventurers, missionaries, and indigenous peoples—and their ideas—crisscrossed far-flung territories to create a global frontier network during and after the Gilded Age. Not unique to the United States, this network often overlapped with British imperial possessions and found cohesion among American and British subjects through a shared ideology of social Darwinism. As this book reveals, the U.S.-Mexican borderlands constituted one stop of many beyond the continental United States where Americans chased capitalist dreams, guided by a frontier ideology. These frontiers typically showcased power grabs for minerals or other riches, glittering with potential and inspiring grandiose dreams, yet they also exposed the immoral and corrupt strategies that people sometimes used to attain what seemed so rightfully theirs. At the same time, these regions also exhibited the human capacity for accommodation, resistance, and resilience that indigenous peoples summoned when threatened, or when they identified strategic opportunities.