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2 One of the most striking things I learned from the Hispanic women of Antonito is the diversity of their views. In 2000 Antonito had fewer than 900 inhabitants, and almost 800 of them claimed Hispanic identity on the U.S. Census. Yet in this small and predominantly monoethnic community , women’s stories revealed a notable variety of self-definitions. Different women used different terms to define their ethnic identities, and some changed their preferred terms over the course of their lives in response to changing social forces and political consciousness. They held strong opinions about terms they liked and did not like. They privileged different parts of their heritage—which in many cases encompassed Spanish, Indian, Anglo, and Mexican roots. Even two members of the same family might use different terms and emphasize different aspects of their ancestry; for example, Bernadette Vigil (a pseudonym) called herself “Mexicana,” whereas her sister declared herself “Spanish.” This conflict over ethnic terminology was not unique to my study. Others have noted similar ambiguity in other Mexican American communities (Elsasser, MacKenzie, and Tixier y Vigil 1980; Madrid 1998; Zavella “The Stereotypes Have to Be Broken” Identity and Ethnicity in Antonito Counihan_2PP.indd 22 Counihan_2PP.indd 22 8/20/09 10:15:20 AM 8/20/09 10:15:20 AM 23 Identity and Ethnicity in Antonito 1991). The lack of consistent terminology pointed to the central dilemma of identification and identity that this chapter explores. Antonito: An Insider/Outsider Perspective Let me now turn to a description of Antonito by Janice DeHerrera, who grew up in Albuquerque but whose mother was from the Antonito area. Janice had visited off and on all her life until she married and moved to Antonito when she was twenty-six. After nearly twenty years of living there, she had a well-articulated view of the town deriving from her insider/outsider status. JANICE DEHERRERA ON ANTONITO The first thing I want to describe is Antonito being a small community with a lot of humble people. I would say especially the older people are very humble, unmaterialistic, to the point where they actually hide their riches so that nobody will be jealous of them. Even though there’s a lot of educated people here, for some you wouldn’t even know it. You’d think they were just lowly little housewives who had no education, and then you find out that they’ve got master’s degrees, because they don’t want to stand out, so they make themselves the same. They don’t want to stand out as being arrogant. Everybody goes to bed at the same time, and everybody gets up at the same time, and there’s hardly anybody going against the grain. We all eat the same things at the same time, and we all go to the store and buy the same specials. Sameness is important, sameness is so important. People will hide their riches so that other people won’t bring attention to them, so they don’t stand out as being different. Everybody has the same kind of house. There’s not too many people out there wanting a giant mansion, like 60,000 square feet or 6,000 square feet, they just want something to put their television and their comfy chairs in. The town of Antonito has a lot of little modest homes, with a lot of people living in them. There’s not always a house with a room for each child, or even two children. Sometimes you have a boys’ room and a girls’ room. They all want to wear T-shirts, and they all want to wear jeans. I guess one thing they might show off is their automobiles. This is not a place that changes. Nothing will change, it doesn’t happen overnight. And if there was a change, everybody would be there watching it [laughs]. This place does not change. It’s a constant place, a Counihan_2PP.indd 23 Counihan_2PP.indd 23 8/20/09 10:15:21 AM 8/20/09 10:15:21 AM A T O R T I L L A I S L I K E L I F E 24 quiet place, a humble place, and one that doesn’t open its doors to outsiders very well. The reason for that is they’ve been burned in the past. This is a predominantly Spanish community. If you don’t show off, and you act kind of like other people...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780292795181
Related ISBN
9780292719811
MARC Record
OCLC
826516868
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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