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Mexicanos: A History of Mexicans in the United States
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Mexicanos: A History of Mexicans in the United States (Paperback)

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Synopsis

"Mexicanos" tells the rich and vibrant story of Mexicans in the United States. Emerging from the ruins of Aztec civilization and from centuries of Spanish contact with indigenous people, Mexican culture followed the Spanish colonial frontier northward and put its distinctive mark on what became the southwestern United States. Shaped by their Indian and Spanish ancestors, deeply influenced by Catholicism, and tempered by an often difficult existence, Mexicans continue to play an important role in U.S. society, even as the dominant Anglo culture strives to assimilate them.Manuel Gonzales traces the Mexicanos story from before the arrival of the Spanish, through the years of the expanding Spanish frontier, to the creation of the Mexican republic and its relations with the United States - the 'Colossus of the North' - along a contentious border. Gonzales describes Mexican life in the young American Southwest and tracks the growing tide of emigration northward ETH always present, but especially strong in the early years of the twentieth century.He recounts the economic hardships of Mexican Americans during the Depression years, the trials of war and its aftermath, and the explosion of ethnic pride and political awareness in the Chicano Movement of the 1960s.

Reviewing the history of the last twenty-five years, he sees the failed promise of political and economic gains for Mexicans in the United States, as well as hopeful signs for the future. Throughout this history, Gonzales attempts to do justice to the variety of experience in what is, after all, a heterogeneous community. He tells of vendidos (sellouts) and heroes, the legendary and the little-known, the failures and the triumphant.Thorough and balanced, "Mexicanos" makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of the Mexican population of the United States, a growing minority who will be a vital presence in twenty-first-century America. A product of the Chicano Movement of the 1960s, the systematic study of the history of Mexicanos in the United States - both native-born and immigrant - has been dominated during the past thirty years by movement scholar-activists. Today, Mexican-American history continues to be taught primarily in Chicano/a Studies departments, largely from a militant perspective. However, a changing intellectual climate suggests that the time is ripe for a fresh reassessment of the Mexican-American past.Indeed, in a search for alternate perspectives, even some Chicano and Chicana scholars themselves have begun to challenge the prevailing ethnic studies approach, where victimization and resistance have been the predominant themes.

Eschewing celebratory history, these researchers, from a variety of disciplines, are slowly constructing a more nuanced portrait of Mexican-American life. In fact, much of their work has been on the cutting edge of contemporary research on class, race, gender, and sexuality.Combining the best of the new studies by these Chicano/a revisionists with insights gained through his rigorous grounding in European and Latin American as well as Mexican-American history, Manuel G. Gonzales offers a 'non-movement' interpretation of the evolution of the growing Mexican communities in the United States. Throughout, Gonzales attempts to relate the lives of all segments of the heterogeneous ethnic community, not just the heroes who loom so large in movement portrayals; 'even vendidos (sellouts),' he notes, 'have a history'. Moreover, in contrast to older studies, Gonzales' book probes the failures as well as the successes of the community, resulting in a synthesis that is both fair and balanced.

On the whole this survey makes a timely and valuable contribution to our understanding of our nation's Mexican population, a burgeoning minority who will play an expanding and vital role in 21st century America.

History & PoliticsHistory: specific events & topicsSocial & cultural historyPhilosophy, Psychology & Social SciencesSocial groupsEthnic studies Publisher: Indiana University Press Publication Date: 01/07/2000 ISBN-13: 9780253214003  Details: Type: Paperback Format: Books
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