From the actions of Europeans in the seventeenth century to the real estate deals of the modern era, people making a living off the land in southern Arizona have been repeatedly robbed
of their way of life. History has recorded more than three centuries of speculative failures that never amounted to much but left dispossessed people in their wake. This book seeks to
excavate those failures, to examine the new social spaces the schemers struggled to create and the existing social spaces they destroyed. Landscapes of Fraud explores how the
penetration of the evolving capitalist world-system created and destroyed communities in the Upper Santa Cruz Valley of Arizona from the late 1600s to the 1970s. Thomas Sheridan has
melded history, anthropology, and critical geography to create a penetrating view of greed and power and their lasting effect on those left powerless. Sheridan first examines how
O'odham culture was fragmented by the arrival of the Spanish, telling how autonomous communities moving across landscapes in seasonal rounds were reduced to a mission world of
subordination. Sheridan then considers the fate of the Tumacacori grant and Baca Float No. 3, another land grant. He tells the unbroken story of land fraud from Manuel Maria Gandara's
purchase of the "abandoned" Tumacacori grant at public auction in 1844 through the bankruptcy of the shady real estate developers who had fraudulently promoted housing projects at Rio
Rico during the 1960s and '70s. As the Upper Santa Cruz Valley underwent a wrenching transition from a landscape of community to a landscape of fraud, the betrayal of the O'odham became
complete when land, that most elemental form of human space, was transformed from a communal resource into a commodity bought and sold for its future value. Today, Mission Tumacacori
stands as a romantic icon of the past while the landscapes that supported it lay buried under speculative schemes that continue to haunt our history.
|"A profound view of greed and power and their lasting effect on those left powerless."|
— Natural Resources Journal
"Much as the O’odham get to know the physical landscape well out of a profound respect for it, Sheridan handles his subject matter with a tenderness that compels an appreciation for detail."
— Jesse Cheng in Anthropological Quarterly
"Sheridan draws from his meticulous research a restrained, even occasionally empathetic accounting of events."
— Arizona Daily Star
Thomas E. Sheridan holds a joint appointment as professor of Anthropology at the Southwest Center and the Department of Anthropology at the University of Arizona. He has authored or co-edited eleven other books.