he genesis of this volume illustrates how scholars benefit
reaching beyond their expertise, from thinking to-
gether, and from teaching. The summer before I started my first
faculty appointment at Southern Methodist University, my dis-
sertation advisor, David D. Hall, gave me a collection of essays
about consumption in eighteenth-century British North Amer-
ica (Of Consuming Interests: The Style of Life in the Eighteenth
Century), which, along with his good guidance about the early
modern European world, led me to locate the origins of con-
sumer culture in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, long
before assembly lines, department stores, and slick-paper mag-
azines. Thus the undergraduate course on the history of con-
sumer culture that I teach at SMU begins several centuries
earlier than comparable courses at other institutions. Doing so
has habituated me to seeing consumer culture in places that
have been overlooked (one-room dwellings) or characterized
only as ‘‘material culture’’ (native American communities).
At the same time as I developed my approach to the history
of consumer culture, my association with the Clements Center
at SMU as a member of its Executive Board, particularly my
good fortune in getting to know many of its fellows, includ-
ing the inestimable Raul Ramos, Flannery Burke, and Sam
Truett, piqued my scholarly interest in the borderlands. So,
when David Weber and Sherry Smith agreed to fund a Clem-
ents Center Symposium under my aegis, investigating con-
sumer culture in the U.S.-Mexico borderlands seemed par-
ticularly appealing. That so many scholars responded to the
open call for papers confirmed my sense that there was indeed
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