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Title:An Historical Analysis of the Functions and Reproduction of the Navajo Reservation
Author(s):Volk, Robert William
Department / Program:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Social Structure and Development
Abstract:This dissertation conceptualizes reservations as distinct social institutions whose functions vary across time and space. It is theorized that the peculiar political-economic relations involving reservations separates them from other situations of underdevelopment. An attempt to elucidate this process is made through an historical analysis of the Navajo Reservation from before its establishment in 1868 to the present. It is reasoned that a modes of production approach is best suited for this problem because reservations represent institutions embedded in the process of the articulation of the modes of production as elements of the traditional mode are gradually replaced by capitalist ones.
By examining the major characteristics and changes therein of the production process three phases were identified after the establishment of the Reservation. The first phase was characterized by the growing importance and eventual dominance over production relations by merchant capital in the form of trading posts. The second phase involved direct intervention by the State in response to a crisis situation precipitated by a failure in the national economy in the 1930's. A public works program and stock reduction program were the primary facets of this intervention in the pre-war period. After World War II the State promoted off-reservation wage work for the Navajo by establishing a relocation program and installing a migrant labor system. The final phase involved the penetration of industrial capital on the Reservation in the form of energy development.
It was found that conditions of general underdevelopment (economic disarticulation, function dualism, cheap food, hypertrophy of the tertiary) were present in the Navajo case but with substantial variation. These relations have been influenced by the specific material conditions of the Reservation and have been mediated by the institutional arrangements peculiar to reservation status, which is based on the subservient position of the resident population, and has permitted the State to play an exaggerated role in Navajo economic relations. State actions have displayed a high level of flexibility and have been influenced by the needs of capital, fiscal pressures, social control concerns, and conditions within the Reservation itself.
Issue Date:1987
Description:303 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1987.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8721776
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1987

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