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Intimate Frontiers


Intimate Frontiers Cover

ISBN13: 9780826319548
ISBN10: 0826319548
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This book reveals how powerful undercurrents of sex, gender, and culture helped shape the history of the American frontier from the 1760s to the 1850s. Looking at California under three flags--those of Spain, Mexico, and the United States--Hurtado resurrects daily life in the missions, at mining camps, on overland trails and sea journeys, and in San Francisco. In these settings Hurtado explores courtship, marriage, reproduction, and family life as a way to understand how men and women--whether Native American, Anglo American, Hispanic, Chinese, or of mixed blood--fit into or reshaped the roles and identities set by their race and gender.

Hurtado introduces two themes in delineating his intimate frontiers. One was a libertine California, and some of its delights were heartily described early in the 1850s: "[Gold] dust was plentier than pleasure, pleasure more enticing than virtue. Fortune was the horse, youth in the saddle, dissipation the track, and desire the spur." Not all the times were good or giddy, and in the tragedy of a teenage domestic who died in a botched abortion or a brutalized Indian woman we see the seamy underside of gender relations on the frontier. The other theme explored is the reaction of citizens who abhorred the loss of moral standards and sought to suppress excess. Their efforts included imposing all the stabilizing customs of whichever society dominated California--during the Hispanic period,arranged marriages and concern for family honor were the norm; among the Anglos, laws regulated prostitution,missionaries railed against vices, and "proper" women were brought in to help "civilize" the frontier.


Explores the role of sex and gender on California's multi-cultural frontier under the influences of Spain, Mexico, and the United States.

About the Author

Albert L. Hurtado is the Travis Professor of Modern American History at the University of Oklahoma and the author of award-winning studies of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century California.

Table of Contents

Introduction: The intimate challenges of a multicultural frontier — Sexuality in California's Franciscan missions: Cultural perceptions and historical realities — Customs of the country: Mixed marriage in Mexican California — Crossing the borders: Sex, gender, and the journey to California — His own will and pleasure: Miners, morals, and the crisis of the marriage market — Amelia's body: The limits of female agency in frontier California — Intimate frontiers.

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0519dmmyers, May 5, 2009 (view all comments by 0519dmmyers)
Intimate Frontiers is a "must read" for lovers of California history. Professor Hurtado has a delightful way of grabbing the reader with interesting stories and nuggets about the people who shaped the West. I have read the book cover to cover at least twice and have cited it copiously in my thesis. In addition, I have read several pieces written by Professor Hurtado and they all deliver the same powerful message. Curiously, a male writes about history yet usually conveys 'herstory.' The chapter entitled 'Amelia's Body' is especially poignant and the reader gets a genuine feel for how women have struggled to make their presence known.
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Product Details

Sex, Gender, and Culture in Old California
Hurtado, Albert L.
University of New Mexico Press
Albuquerque :
United States - 19th Century/Old West
Frontier and pioneer life
United States - State & Local
Gender Studies
Sex role
Frontier and pioneer life -- California.
Heterosexuality -- Social aspects -- California -- History -- 19th century.
United States - State & Local - General
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Histories of the American Frontier (Paperback)
Publication Date:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Americana » California
History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
Travel » Travel Writing » General

Intimate Frontiers New Trade Paper
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$34.50 In Stock
Product details 203 pages Univ of New Mexico Pr - English 9780826319548 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Explores the role of sex and gender on California's multi-cultural frontier under the influences of Spain, Mexico, and the United States.
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