The Spanish Redemption: Heritage, Power, and Loss on New Mexico's Upper Rio Grande

The Spanish Redemption: Heritage, Power, and Loss on New Mexico's Upper Rio Grande

The Spanish Redemption: Heritage, Power, and Loss on New Mexico's Upper Rio Grande

The Spanish Redemption: Heritage, Power, and Loss on New Mexico's Upper Rio Grande

Synopsis

"The Spanish Redemption contributes an extremely important chapter to the burgeoning literature on the construction of whiteness in the United States, to our understanding of the shifting and complicated relationship between ethnicity and class, and a concrete example of how culture can be used to shape political and economic identities. With considerable dexterity and authority, with nuance and subtly, with newly utilized archival evidence, and with a glorious narrative flair, Montgomery fastidiously describes the racial politics that were played out through the cultural production of an imagined Spanish past."--Ramon Gutierrez, author of "When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away: Marriage, Sexuality, and Power in New Mexico, 1500-1846, and co-editor of Contested Eden: California Before the Gold Rush

"Between the two world wars, villagers in northern New Mexico became Spanish Americans rather than Mexican Americans, and artists, writers, and boosters celebrated their previously despised arts, crafts, architecture, foods, and folkways. With probing intelligence and graceful, limpid prose, Montgomery tells the remarkable story of this shift in regional identity and its disturbing and enduring consequences. The "quaint" Hispano villages of northern New Mexico will never look the same."--David J. Weber, author of "The Spanish Frontier in North America

Excerpt

The principal events described in this book occurred in an extraordinary place and time in modern America: the upper Rio Grande area of New Mexico during the first four decades of the twentieth century. This was a setting of stunning natural beauty. Suffused by the light of the high Southwest, the region's lush mountains and austere plateaus marked a world apart from the factories and fields of an industrializing nation. No less singular were the area's inhabitants. English-speaking Anglos, Spanish-speaking Hispanos, and numerous Pueblo tribes made up what the writer Paul Horgan later called the “heroic triad, ” a confluence of three seemingly alien cultures. As a chronicler of the upper Rio Grande, Horgan followed Charles Lummis, Willa Cather, D. H. Lawrence, and Oliver La Farge in a line of celebrated writers who were entranced by its land and people. Of special interest to them was the area's place in twentieth-century America. Over and over the writers were struck by an apparent rupture of time, a separation of Anglo newcomers from the more native peoples and of the region itself from places to the east. That the writers' observations were shaped by the biases of their age does not diminish their enthusiasm, and often great affection, for a place and a people that seemed to stand apart from the modern world.

The peoples of New Mexico were never as alien to each other, or to modern life, as Anglo writers liked to think. Still, the coexistence of Indians, Hispanos, and Anglos in northern New Mexico has never been easy. It has always demanded constant negotiation and mutual concession. That was true for Indian communities and Spanish settlers centuries ago, and it has remained true for Hispanos and Anglos up to the . . .

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