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Mexican Americans Across Generations

Immigrant Families, Racial Realities

Jessica Vasquez, 0, 0

Publication Year: 2011

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

Since 1924, Old Spanish Days Fiesta has been an annual summer celebration in my home town of Santa Barbara, California. The aim of the nearly week-long event is, according to its official website, to “celebrate the traditions handed down from Spain, Mexico and the California Rancho period.” This festive affair includes a historical parade, a children’s parade...

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p. xiii

I would like to gratefully acknowledge the financial support I received from the University of California-Berkeley, the National Science Foundation, the University of California Institute for Mexico and the United States, and the University of Kansas. I would like to thank the inspired scholars who challenged and encouraged me, advancing the theoretical depth...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-29

Paul Zagada, a 62-year-old second-generation Mexican American lawyer, enthusiastically explained his “Coca-Cola, 7-Up, and Evian water” image of the way the racial identities of Mexican immigrants and their descendants change with each generation. To him, the Mexican immigrant generation is the “Coca-Cola” generation because they are rich in tradition...

Part I

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2. Thinned Attachment: Heritage Is Slipping through our Fingers

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pp. 33-63

Sixty-five-year-old Maria Montes is a devout Catholic, bilingual in English and Spanish, and the matriarch of her family.1 One of six siblings, Maria emigrated from Mexico when she was four years old with her mother and sister, while her brothers stayed in Mexico. Maria’s mother chose to immigrate in part because one of her brothers and her eldest son were already in...

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3. Cultural Maintenance: A Pot of Beans on the Stove

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pp. 64-90

When I arrived at the Benavidas home in the Oakland hills, my respondent’s wife, Melissa, gave me a tour of the front portion of the home, saying her husband would join us in a minute. The house was immaculately decorated, boasting art on the walls from Spain, Mexico, and Ecuador, as well as southwestern art hand crafted by Melissa’s father. As Melissa ushered...

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4. Tortillas in the Shape of the United States: Marriage and the Families We Choose

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pp. 91-123

Marriage is a central component of assimilation. Marriage patterns, in particular frequency of intermarriage, are a basic yardstick used to measure assimilation. Marriage has historically been understood as a way to preserve or alter the racial makeup of society. Antimiscegenation laws that banned interracial marriage and interracial sex were enforced until ruled...

Part II

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5. Whiter Is Better: Discrimination in Everyday Life

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pp. 127-162

Ruben and Adele Mendoza are a married second-generation couple who are both light skinned and have a Hispanic surname. They tell me a powerful tale about how their Spanish-sounding name—Mendoza as a “giveaway” last name—restricted their access to housing when they were newlyweds...

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6. Fit to Be Good Cooks and Good Mechanics: Racialization in Schools

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pp. 163-193

School systems are simultaneously racialized and racializing. Educational institutions possess tremendous capacity to reproduce the power structure and racial hierarchy of society. Family, as another social institution, mediates the racializing effects of the educational system. The family is a critical site of racial identity development as it is a locale where intergenerational...

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7. As Much Hamburger as Taco: Third-Generation Mexican Americans

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pp. 194-228

Nearly seven million people are third-plus generation Mexican Americans (Macias 2006: 6), yet there is great diversity and fluidity within this group regarding the way they classify themselves. This chapter analyzes how the contradictory forces of “flexible ethnicity” and “racialization” influence the way third-generation Mexican Americans identify. “Flexible ethnicity...

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8. Conclusion: Racialization despite Assimilation

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pp. 229-244

This book has addressed the question of Mexican immigrants’ and their descendants’ integration into U.S. society. One more glimpse into respondents’ lives reinforces the point that racial/ethnic identity is a fluid process that is highly contingent upon context and that assimilation pathways are not straightforward but open to voluntary personal switchbacks...

Methodological Appendix: A Note on Sociological Reflexivity and “Situated Interviews”

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pp. 245-255

Appendix A: Respondent Demographic Information (Pseudonyms)

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pp. 257-260


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pp. 261-267


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pp. 269-282


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pp. 283-299

About the Author

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p. 301

E-ISBN-13: 9780814788363
E-ISBN-10: 081478836X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814788288
Print-ISBN-10: 0814788289

Page Count: 314
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 727951076
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Mexican Americans Across Generations

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans -- Cultural assimilation -- California.
  • Mexican Americans -- California -- Social conditions -- 21st century.
  • California -- Ethnic relations.
  • California -- Race relations.
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