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NAFTA Stories: Fears and Hopes in Mexico and the United States

Ann E. Kingsolver
NAFTA Stories: Fears and Hopes in Mexico and the United States
ISBN: 978-1-55587-974-7
ISBN: 978-1-58826-915-7
2001/253 pages/LC: 2001019617

"An eloquent illustration of how much we have to gain from continuing to employ and refine qualitative approaches to our study of global politics."—Natalie Hevener Kaufman, Global Connections

"Kingsolver presents a fascinating account of the anti-NAFTA movement in Mexico and the United States, illustrating the absences of a ‘NAFTA identity.'"—Mario E. Carranza, Latin American Politics and Society

"Kingsolver has created a fascinating text out of separate but clearly related stories about race, nationalism, globalization, and power."—KarenMary Davalos


Ann Kingsolver presents stories people have told about NAFTA—young people and old, urban and rural, with differing political perspectives, occupations, and other markers of identity—that demonstrate their expectations and imaginations of the sweeping trade agreement.

NAFTA, Kingsolver contends, both before and after its passage, became a catch-all in public discourse for tensions related to neoliberal policies and to economic and cultural processes of globalization. The storytellers in her book, from Mexico, Kentucky, and California, imagined the meaning and possible effects of regional integration on topics ranging from agriculture, to the stereotyping of workers, to national sovereignty and identity. NAFTA became invested with possibilities far beyond the scope of its literal provisions.

Kingsolver analyzes the metaphorical meanings attributed to NAFTA, whether "a giant truck in your rear-view mirror"(in Ralph Nader's words) or a panacea for what they tell us about the changing relationship between national governments and their publics. She finds that, rather than strengthening national authority, the passage of NAFTA led to intense public questioning and deep political divisions in both Mexico and the U.S.


Ann E. Kingsolver is professor of anthropology and Director of the Appalachian Center and Appalachian Studies Program at the University of Kentucky. She is the editor of More than Class: Studying Power in U.S. Workplaces.


  • Introduction: NAFTA Stories in the Space of Absence.
  • 1993: Stories of Anticipation.
  • NAFTA and National Identities: Stories of Racialized Difference in 1994.
  • 1995: Stories of Crisis, Critique, and Change.
  • Conclusion: Stories of Accountability.