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Refusing the Favor tells the little-known story of the Spanish-Mexican women who saw their homeland become part of New Mexico. A corrective to traditional narratives of the period, it carefully and lucidly documents the effects of colonization, looking closely at how the women lived both before and after the United States took control of the region.
Focusing on Santa Fe, which was long one of the largest cities west of the Mississippi, Deena González demonstrates that women's responses to the conquest were remarkably diverse and that their efforts to preserve their culture were complex and long-lasting. Drawing on a range of sources, from newspapers to wills, deeds, and court records, González shows that the change to U.S. territorial status did little to enrich or empower the Spanish-Mexican inhabitants. The vast majority, in fact, found themselves quickly impoverished, and this trend toward low-paid labor, particularly for women, continues even today. González both examines the long-term consequences of colonization and draws illuminating parallels with the experiences of other minorities.
Refusing the Favor also describes how and why Spanish-Mexican women have remained invisible in the histories of the region for so long. It avoids casting the story as simply "bad" Euro-American migrants and "good" local people by emphasizing the concrete details of how women lived. It covers every aspect of their experience, from their roles as businesswomen to the effects of intermarriage, and it provides an essential key to the history of New Mexico. Anyone with an interest in Western history, gender studies, Chicano/a studies, or the history of borderlands and colonization will find the book an invaluable resource and guide.
"At long last, a history of the American conquest told from the perspective of Spanish/Mexican women. A leading Chicana feminist theorist, Deena González pushes the interplay of gender, race, class, sexuality to the absolute edge by demonstrating the impact of colonization on the daily lives of Spanish/Mexican women in Santa Fe. She compels historians to reconsider the conventional scholarship with regard to the allegedly accommodating atmosphere surrounding the conquest and the assimilative nature of intermarriage. With power and conviction, she articulates how women, such as Dona Maria Gertrudis Barcelo, were both "shapers of conflict and choreographers of outcome." Rich in archival sources and historical insight, Refusing the Favor is a significant contribution to Chicana/Chicano history, western history, and gender studies." —Vicki Ruiz, Professor of History and Chicana-Chicano Studies at Arizona State University
"González reads the accommodation and alleged complicity in the conquest that conventional interpretations have assigned to Spanish-Mexican women, as well as the images of Hispanas reproduced in Western American frontier literature and histories, within the context of global representations of women in the colonialist gaze. Incisive and brilliantrly argued, Refusing the Favor sets new methodological, theoretical, and interpretative standards of historical study." —Antonia I. Castañeda, St. Mary's University, San Antonio, Texas.
"micro-history at its best."— Bulletin of Spanish Studies