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Title:Las Tejanas in nineteenth-century Texas: (En)gendering race, empire, and nation in the borderlands, 1750-1850
Author(s):Mendez Flores, Veronica A
Director of Research:Jacobsen, Nils; Hoxie, Frederick
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Jacobsen, Nils; Hoxie, Frederick
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Rosas, Gilberto; Loza, Mireya
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):U.S.-Mexico borderlands, violence,Tejanas, nineteenth-century, Texas, citizenship, gender, race.
Abstract:The aim of this project is to locate Tejanas as central actors in the making of the nineteenth-century U.S.-Mexico borderlands. Working at the intersection of Borderlands Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Latin American, and U.S. History, I show how Tejanas deployed degrees of racial and class privilege to challenge and reinforce interlocking systems of oppression grounded on anti-Blackness and through the literal and figurative erasure of Indigenous peoples across Spanish, Mexican, and American settler-colonial projects. In exercising their agency as settlers, and later as part of a colonized population, Tejanas forged communities and claimed place that challenged their social, economic, and political displacements while simultaneously perpetuating intimate violence against Black and Indigenous peoples to legitimize their claims of belonging — a running thread in the histories of the borderlands. In the process of claiming a place in San Antonio through their interactions with institutions and borderland inhabitants, Tejanas (re)produced racial epistemologies across time that both bolstered and contested the very ideologies that underpinned nineteenth-century discourses and practices of state power, territoriality, and authority. Tejanas were agents who challenged the structures of empire and nation and whose efforts produced complex subjects, people who were ruled, but who had not surrendered their humanity or agency. This dissertation reveals the central themes of Tejana life through the late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century: agency, complicity, political influence, resilience in the face of violence, and commitment to place. The experiences of Tejanas, as they endured and adjusted to the shifting regimes of power that engulfed them, teach us an important lesson on belonging within an empire. Survival requires both persistence in the face of violence and flexibility as institutions of political and economic life are altered by forces beyond one’s control. It is also evident that belonging in an imperial setting requires constant trade-offs between resistance and collaboration. If successful, the struggle to belong also rewards those whom empire seeks to dispossess with the gift of place, of a homeland for their children to inherit.
Issue Date:2021-04-23
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Verónica A. Médez Flores
Date Available in IDEALS:2021-09-17
Date Deposited:2021-05

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