The transborder modernization of Mexico and the American Southwest during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries transformed the lives of ethnic Mexicans across the political divide. While industrialization, urbanization, technology, privatization, and wealth concentration benefitted some, many more experienced dislocation, exploitative work relations, and discrimination based on race, gender, and class. The Mexican Revolution brought these issues to the
fore within Mexican society, igniting a diaspora to el norte. Within the United States, similar economic and social power dynamics plagued Tejanos and awaited the war refugees. Political activism spearheaded by individuals and organizations such as the Idars, Leonor Villegas' de Magnon's White
Cross, the Magonista movement, the Munguias, Emma Tenayuca, and LULAC emerged in the borderlands to address the needs of ethnic Mexicans whose lives were shaped by racism, patriarchy, and poverty.
As Gabriela Gonzalez shows in this book, economic modernization relied on social hierarchies that were used to justify economic inequities. Redeeming la raza was about saving ethnic Mexicans in Texas from a social hierarchy premised on false notions of white supremacy and Mexican inferiority. Activists used privileges of class, education, networks, and organizational skills to confront the many injustices that racism bred, but they used different strategies. Thus, the anarcho-syndicalist
approach of Magonistas stands in contrast to the social and cultural redemption politics of the Idars who used the press to challenge a Jaime Crow world. Also, the family promoted the intellectual, material, and cultural uplift of la raza, working to combat negative stereotypes of ethnic Mexicans.
Similar contrasts can be drawn between the labor activism of Emma Tenayuca and the Munguias, whose struggle for rights employed a politics of respectability that encouraged ethnic pride and unity. Finally, maternal feminist approaches and the politics of citizenship serve as reminders that gendered and nationalist rhetoric and practices foment hierarchies within civil and human rights organizations.
Redeeming La Raza examines efforts of activists to create a dignified place for ethnic Mexicans in American society by challenging white supremacy and the segregated world it spawned.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 280
Weight: 398 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 16 mm
In Redeeming La Raza ... Gabriela Gonzalez traces the multifaceted efforts of Mexican and Mexican American activists in the Texas-Mexico border region to confront structural and cultural obstacles to rights and progress for ethnic Mexicans throughout the first half of the twentieth century. Focusing in particular on a handful of individual biographical accounts, Gonzalez reveals the ambition and the breadth of multiple strands of activism that both
sought progress and focused on transformation in a broadly transnational context. These varied activists sought to confront both race- and class-based exploitation using the tools open to them as individuals familiar with the gendered dynamics of their transborder lives ... It is a complicated and rewarding book that
covers familiar subjects in interesting new ways. * John Weber, American Historical Review *
This research significantly expands our knowledge of Mexican American, Texas, southwestern borderlands, and women's and gender history. Comprehensive, grounded on primary documents and essential secondary sources, and written in clear, jargon-free prose, Gonzalez's work is to be commended for the way in which it explains how gender ideologies shaped and informed locally grown ideas about women's place in society and in its connection to greater American
historical processes. * Sonia Hernandez, Southwestern Historical Quarterly *
Redeeming La Raza takes the political and cultural ideas debated by Texas Mexicans along the US borderline seriously as intellectual history. Always attentive to differences shaped by class and gender, Gabriela Gonzalez weaves a critical story of the impact of respectability politics, transnational modernism, and maternal feminism in the shaping and sustenance of a powerful transborder political culture."-George Sanchez, University of Southern California
This book is the first to weave numerous biographies and political perspectives of Mexicans/Chicanos across decades using the lens of transnationalism. Gonzalez offers a most excellent treatment of transborder political culture showing how the Mexican immigrant middle class and Mexican American middle class sought to uplift working class Mexican immigrants from racism."-Cynthia E. Orozco, Eastern New Mexico University-Ruidoso
Gabriela Gonzalez's erudite, deeply-researched, and far-reaching study of Mexicans in Texas should be read by students, scholars, activists, and others who care about the U.S.-Mexico border region, women's history, and civil rights. Capturing untold stories of women's leadership, international relations, and racial discrimination, Redeeming La Raza rewrites important chapters in twentieth-century American history. * Stephen Pitti, Yale University