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The Emergence of Mexican America

Recovering Stories of Mexican Peoplehood in U.S. Culture

John-Michael Rivera

Publication Year: 2006

Winner of the 2006 Thomas J. Lyon Book Award in Western American Literary Studies, presented by the Western Literature Association

In The Emergence of Mexican America, John-Michael Rivera examines the cultural, political, and legal representations of Mexican Americans and the development of US capitalism and nationhood. Beginning with the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848 and continuing through the period of mass repatriation of US Mexican laborers in 1939, Rivera examines both Mexican-American and Anglo-American cultural production in order to tease out the complexities of the so-called “Mexican question.” Using historical and archival materials, Rivera's wide-ranging objects of inquiry include fiction, non-fiction, essays, treaties, legal materials, political speeches, magazines, articles, cartoons, and advertisements created by both Mexicans and Anglo Americans. Engaging and methodologically venturesome, Rivera's study is a crucial contribution to Chicano/Latino Studies and fields of cultural studies, history, government, anthropology, and literary studies.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

This book began and ended with people in mind. Within and outside the margins, the people I have met cast their influence upon every thought and inspired me over the years to complete what I thought would never end. Ten years ago Nicolas Kanellos guided me to a life of thinking. For his caring, his wisdom, and mentorship, I will be forever grateful. In ...

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Introduction: “How Do You Make the Invisible, Visible?” Locating Stories of Mexican Peoplehood

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pp. 1-23

My story of the Mexican past in the United States begins with a story of the Mexican present. During a long drive from Los Angeles International Airport to the high desert of Lancaster, California, in the summer of 2004, I saw a billboard that would haunt me for days. In bold black letters, the billboard simply stated: “Mexicans Are Leaving on May 14th.” What did this ...

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1 Don Zavala Goes to Washington:Translating U.S. Democracy

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pp. 24-50

In 1830, the Mexican exile Lorenzo de Zavala made a historic journey to the United States. A product of this journey is an important, although little known, travel narrative, Viage de los Estados Unidos del Norte América (Journey to the United States of America), a meticulously written narrative about U.S. democratic cultures and institutions. Zavala’s narrative ...

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2 Constituting Terra Incognita:The “Mexican Question” in U.S. Print Culture

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pp. 51-81

Imagine, if you will, that it is August 28, 1899 in New York, and it is a bit warmer than usual in the growing industrial city. Because of the hot, humid day, Mr. Drake decides not to take the new trolley system. Too many people, he recalls, so he decides to walk home from his job on Wall Street. He has been working with the Wall Street banking ...

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3 Embodying Manifest Destiny: Mar

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pp. 82-109

While living in New England in 1869, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, the first Mexican in the United States to write an English language novel, wrote a revealing letter to the once–California Governor Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo. Both intellectuals and leaders of Mexican California’s gente de razon (people with reason), Ruiz1 and Vallejo wrote ...

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4 Claiming Los Bilitos: Miguel Antonio Oteroand the Fight for New Mexican Manhood

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pp. 110-134

On the morning of December 23, 1880, Miguel Antonio Otero Jr. met the infamous Billy the Kid. He would recount this meeting in the concluding chapters of his biography, The Real Billy the Kid, revealing his relationship with a “bandit” who had become a hero of the New Mexican people during the late nineteenth century. As the epigraph to this chapter reveals, Otero represents Billy the Kid as a gentleman ...

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5 “Con su pluma en su mano”: Américo Paredes andthe Poetics of “Mexican American” Peoplehood

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pp. 135-164

In the summer of 1999, I attended Don Américo Paredes’ memorial celebration in Austin, Texas, where Tish Hinojosa sang the above corrido for an audience of nearly one thousand mourners. People had come from all over the country: former students, musicians, artists, poets, Chicano and Anglo community leaders, senators and congressman. ...

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pp. 165-176

I have memories of my own Mexican peoplehood, stories that are deeply rooted in my family’s past. Growing up I remember countless stories about my grandparents and parents who, since the nineteenth century, have all at one time in their lives spent many days laboring on white-owned lands in Texas. My family has a long history with lands that are ...


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pp. 177-188


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pp. 189-203


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pp. 205-210

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About the Author

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p. 211

John-Michael Rivera is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Undergraduate Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Working as an archivist, he has critically introduced and edited Lorenzo Zavala’s Journey to the United States and Miguel Antonio Otero’s

E-ISBN-13: 9780814777305
E-ISBN-10: 0814777309
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814775578
Print-ISBN-10: 0814775578

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 181105870
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Emergence of Mexican America

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mexican Americans -- History.
  • Mexican Americans -- Cultural assimilation.
  • Mexican Americans -- Ethnic identity.
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