Congratulations to Dr. Ben Nobbs-Thiessen for winning the 2016 Gilbert C. Fite Award for the best dissertation on agricultural history from the Agricultural History Society. He completed his dissertation, “The Cultivated State, Migrants and the Transformation of the Bolivian Lowlands, 1952-2000,” in 2016 under the advisement of Drs. Jeffrey Lesser, Peter Little, Thomas D. Rogers, and Yanna Yannakakis. Read the below for a more detailed explanation of Nobbs-Thiessen’s research:
My research explores the role of migrants in the “March to the East” a large-scale settlement and rural development initiative undertaken by the Bolivian state after 1952. Over half a century hundreds of thousands of settlers arrived in the tropical Department of Santa Cruz in Bolivia’s Eastern Lowlands to begin new lives as frontier farmers. Among the migrants were indigenous Bolivians from the nation’s highlands, low-German speaking Mennonites from Canada, Paraguay and Mexico as well as groups of Japanese and Okinawan colonists that had been re-settled with support from the Japanese government and the U.S. military. Together these diverse streams made the March to the East a uniquely transnational affair and a compelling case study for understanding migration and mid-century rural modernization.