Manifest Destinies / Edition 1

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Overview

Watch the Author Interview on KNME

In both the historic record and the popular imagination, the story of nineteenth-century westward expansion in America has been characterized by notions of annexation rather than colonialism, of opening rather than conquering, and of settling unpopulated lands rather than displacing existing populations.

Using the territory that is now New Mexico as a case study, Manifest Destinies traces the origins of Mexican Americans as a racial group in the United States, paying particular attention to shifting meanings of race and law in the nineteenth century.

Laura E. Gómez explores the central paradox of Mexican American racial status as entailing the law's designation of Mexican Americans as &#“white” and their simultaneous social position as non-white in American society. She tells a neglected story of conflict, conquest, cooperation, and competition among Mexicans, Indians, and Euro-Americans, the region’s three main populations who were the key architects and victims of the laws that dictated what one’s race was and how people would be treated by the law according to one’s race.

Gómez’s path breaking work—spanning the disciplines of law, history, and sociology—reveals how the construction of Mexicans as an American racial group proved central to the larger process of restructuring the American racial order from the Mexican War (1846–48) to the early twentieth century. The emphasis on white-over-black relations during this period has obscured the significant role played by the doctrine of Manifest Destiny and the colonization of northern Mexico in the racial subordination of black Americans.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Gomez has made a fine and distinctive contribution to our understanding of how conquest and law shaped the ambiguous racial position still occupied by Mexican Americans.”
-American Historical Review

“In her discussion of the role of law in the creation of Mexican Americans as a racial group Gómez tells a convincing story of conquerors manipulating the conquered.”
-The Santa Fe New Mexican

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814731741
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/2007
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 243
  • Product dimensions: 0.75 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 6.00 (d)

Meet the Author

A native New Mexican, Laura E. Gómez is Professor of Law and American Studies at the University of New Mexico. She is the author of Misconceiving Mothers: Legislators, Prosecutors, and the Politics of Prenatal Drug Exposure.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

Introduction

  1. 1 The U.S. Colonization of Northern Mexico and the Creation of Mexican Americans
  2. 2 Where Mexicans Fit in the New American Racial Order
  3. 3 How a Fragile Claim to Whiteness Shaped Mexican Americans’ Relations with Indians and African Americans
  4. 4 Manifest Destiny’s Legacy: Race in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

    Epilogue

    Notes

    Bibliography

    Index

    About the Author

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