A Solidarity Economy on the Border: Examining Historical and Contemporary Case Studies in El Paso, Texas as De Facto Contributors to a U.S.-based Movement
This dissertation examines a contemporary U.S.-based solidarity economy movement, which emphasizes economic practice and ideology that prioritize people and planet over profit. In a neoliberal era that is characterized by economic injustice and continued cutting of social services and programming, a solidarity economy framework offers an alternative. Situated within a growing scholarship, this study examines historical and contemporary examples of solidarity economy-related efforts and praxis in the border city of El Paso, Texas.^ The historical case of the Houchen settlement house and the contemporary case of the women-led grassroots community organization, La Mujer Obrera (LMO), illustrate significant ways in which people have collectively organized to address various social and economic problems in South El Paso communities. By connecting the histories of these cases, as well as the guiding principles and visions of each organization, to a broader solidarity economy movement, I identify these examples as de facto contributors to this movement. While neither the founders and staff of Houchen or the women of LMO would identify as solidarity economy organizations, these examples help us to both understand like-minded forms of collective organizing and broaden the definitions and scope of a U.S.-based solidarity economy. In turn, each case study also illustrates the various challenges that are faced by groups of people working for the common good and for the creation of a community-based alternative economic and food system.^ This project is about hope. It offers glimpses and possibilities for a solidarity economy on the U.S.-Mexico border and tells the stories of the people that make these efforts possible. In an era where the U.S.-Mexico border is considered a barren and dangerous zone, these examples present a counter-narrative and are testaments to the region’s rich history and ceaseless collective efforts based on care, solidarity, and justice.^
Susan Curtis, Purdue University.
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