Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans

Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans

by Martha Menchaca


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Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans by Martha Menchaca

Winner, A Choice Outstanding Academic Book, 2002

The history of Mexican Americans is a history of the intermingling of races—Indian, White, and Black. This racial history underlies a legacy of racial discrimination against Mexican Americans and their Mexican ancestors that stretches from the Spanish conquest to current battles over ending affirmative action and other assistance programs for ethnic minorities. Asserting the centrality of race in Mexican American history, Martha Menchaca here offers the first interpretive racial history of Mexican Americans, focusing on racial foundations and race relations from prehispanic times to the present.

Menchaca uses the concept of racialization to describe the process through which Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. authorities constructed racial status hierarchies that marginalized Mexicans of color and restricted their rights of land ownership. She traces this process from the Spanish colonial period and the introduction of slavery through racial laws affecting Mexican Americans into the late twentieth-century. This re-viewing of familiar history through the lens of race recovers Blacks as important historical actors, links Indians and the mission system in the Southwest to the Mexican American present, and reveals the legal and illegal means by which Mexican Americans lost their land grants.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780292752542
Publisher: University of Texas Press
Publication date: 01/28/2002
Series: Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long Series in Latin American and Latino Art and Culture
Pages: 389
Sales rank: 239,751
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Martha Menchaca is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas at Austin.

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction
  • 1. Racial Foundations
  • 2. Racial Formation: Spain's Racial Order
  • 3. The Move North: The Gran Chichimeca and New Mexico
  • 4. The Spanish Settlement of Texas and Arizona
  • 5. The Settlement of California and the Twilight of the Spanish Period
  • 6. Liberal Racial Legislation during the Mexican Period, 1821-1848
  • 7. Land, Race, and War, 1821-1848
  • 8. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Racialization of the Mexican Population
  • 9. Racial Segregation and Liberal Policies Then and Now
  • Epilogue: Auto/ethnographic Observations of Race and History
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

What People are Saying About This

Antonia I. Castañeda

"Menchaca has accomplished an unprecedented tour de force in this sweeping historical overview and interpretation of the racial formation and racial history of Mexican Americans."

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Recovering History, Constructing Race: The Indian, Black, and White Roots of Mexican Americans 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
My two cents. By M. J Araujo Philosophy major at the University of California Riverside. Something to keep in mind: Blacks were considered property, and a such they were treated. When the land mass which we know today as 'Mexico' was in a revolutionary stage, slave owners transferred their negro property to the Caribbean, so that they would not lose their investment. This makes perfect logical sense, as opposed to Menchaca¿s view that the Spanish made no attempt to protect their investment which is absurd in itself. Her suggestion is equivalent to a person moving out of their house and leaving all their belongings behind for the new tenant to enjoy. Now does this make sense? We must keep in mind that Spain at the time was one of the strongest Countries in the world and was a leading colonizer. The blacks which reside in Mexico today are immigrant arrivals from the Caribbean which came to Mexico upon their own free will. Now the review: She can¿t distinguish the co-reference of the word `Mexican¿, and often confuses her own thoughts, amounting to frequent absurdities. (1)One concept of the word `Mexican¿ means person born in the country Mexico. In other words a citizen of Mexico. Under this thought of the word `Mexican¿ anyone that is a citizen of Mexico qualifies. Whether they be black,white,asian, etc..(Mexico is a multicultural country) A necessary condition for this thought is the existence of the country known as Mexico( in space and in time) (2) The other concept of the word `Mexican¿ refers to the Mexican Race, people of Spanish and Indigenous heritage.Concept (2) can is present within concept(1). Her hypothesis on being 'Mexican' results in the merging of the two concepts together. The problem with this is that if the country known as Mexico were to disappear, meaning that the government would collapse those people that are immigrants of Mexico and those people that are descendants of people that were immigrants in Mexico, would no longer have the claim to being Mexican, because the country does not exist anymore. The very concept that these people are 'Mexican' relies solely on the condition that Mexico exist physically, that is that, it exist in space and time when the concept is expressed. In contrast, a person that is 'Mexican' in the sense that they have Indigenous and Spanish blood, would continue to be Mexican, even after the country Mexico has collapsed and its government has dispersed . When this happens there will only be one referent which refers to the property of 'being Mexican'.