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Telling Identities: The Californio testimonios

Rosaura Sánchez
Copyright Date: 1995
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    Telling Identities
    Book Description:

    Sánchez offers the first historical and literary analysis of thirty 1870s testimonios from the original Spanish-speaking settlers of Alta California. Telling Identities scrutinizes the role of gender, class, race, language, and ethnicity in group identity formation as it looks into history to help articulate the cultural politics of contemporary Chicano and Latino culture in the United States.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8631-5
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 Testimonials as Dependent Production
    (pp. 1-49)

    In the decade of the 1870s approximately sixty-two old Californios who participated in Bancroft’s historiographic project began mapping their imaginary sense of position within a conquered terrain no longer recoverable except in memory. Through their dictated narratives, which function as early sites of ideological struggle, these Californios not only reconstruct their past and retrospectively narrate the nation, but map a new geopolitical cartography,¹ a liminal ethnic space produced as much by their particular history as by U.S. expansionism.² Having lost their “homeland” and the political and economic power to regain their former social status, the narrators turn to representational spaces,...

  5. 2 The Mission as Heterotopia
    (pp. 50-95)

    Alta California was considered a penal colony even as late as the 1820s, a land of savages fit only for convicts and ex-convicts (Alvarado,2:120). When the Hijar-Padrés colonists, including men, women, and children, left Mexico City in caravans to come to California in 1834, their neighbors cried and tried to dissuade them from going to a place where they would all meet certain death at the hands of the Indians (Coronel, 6). Three hundred years before, however, California had been portrayed in fantastic tales as a geographical Utopia, a land of fantasy, the door to earthly paradise.¹ Since 1492 the...

  6. 3 Theoretical Disjunctures and Discourses of Liberalism
    (pp. 96-141)

    With the arrival in 1825 of José María Echeandía, the first governor appointed by the newly independent Mexican state, the youth of Alta California, the Young Turks as it were, who would become the emergent class of the territory and who were then hungry for news of the world and new ideas, were granted an opportunity to imagine a new society upon being invited to participate in discussions on the latest ideological framework stirring debate in the Mexican capital: liberalism. Echeandia’s notions of republicanism and individual liberty clashed with feudal discourses of aristocracy, especially with long-held tenets of birthright and...

  7. 4 Spaces of (Re)Production
    (pp. 142-187)

    The spatialization of history evident in the Californio testimonials allows the narrators to position themselves as a collectivity, a caste or a faction within or outside given geographical sites (territory, department, region, nation, mission,presidio, pueblo, rancho, hacienda, ranchería,wild ness [el monte], the coast, the inland area, “the frontier,” the capital and the “penal colony”) and in relation to particular social and political positions. Two sociospatial realms predominate during the Spanish period, one (the mission) viewed from the outside, and the other (thepresidio/pueblo) from within. From the vantage point of the latter site identity is generated and alterity...

  8. 5 Politics of Gender
    (pp. 188-227)

    In analyzing any ideological discourse, we are struck by its ambiguity and fuzziness; both Chatterjee and Hobsbawm have pointed this out in reference to the discourses of liberalism and nationalism, as we have seen in chapter 3.¹ The same indeterminacy applies to discourses of gender, for they also operate within an ideological field intersected by a multiplicity of discourses. Consequently, there can be no essential gender discourse, only gender discourses in articulation with other discourses, like those of nation, race/caste, religion, family, class, and sexuality, all of which articulate with one another and generate a variety of social identities. In...

  9. 6 Profonationalism in Alta California
    (pp. 228-267)

    Nations, Hobsbawm insists, are the product of territorial states, nationalism, and particular stages of technological and economic development.¹ Before the formation of a state, the elite within a nationalist movement often produces constructs of “the nation-to-be” although in fact the “nation” produced afterward may be quite different. Nationalism as a mass movement, Hobsbawm indicates, is a final stage, coming after the formation of a state. To generate identification with this “imagined community,”² nationalist movements often call upon already existing constructs of community, what we can term “protonationalist” identities generated by discourses of religion, ethnicity, language, kinship, culture, and earlier “historical...

  10. 7 Constructs of Ethnicity
    (pp. 268-304)

    Well over a hundred years after the narration of the Californio testimonials, their descendants, the Chicanos, continue to face a number of social problems and contradictions that first came to the fore in the nineteenth century with invasion and modernization, that is, with conquest, the collapse of feudalism and the definitive inclusion of the territory within capitalism. The contingencies of social reality and politics, specifically an emergent dislocation and shift in social positioning, gave rise to an initial “space of indeterminacy” that ostensibly allowed the Californios to infiltrate and advance within the new system. By 1870, however, it had become...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 305-326)
  12. Testimonial References
    (pp. 327-330)
  13. Index
    (pp. 331-337)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 338-338)