Synopses & Reviews
Hispanics, Native Americans, and Anglo Americans made agonizing and crucial identity decisions in this southwestern region during the first half of the nineteenth century. Whereas the Mexican government sought to bring its frontier inhabitants into the national fold by relying on administrative and patronage linkages, Mexico's northern frontier gravitated toward the expanding American economy. Andrés Reséndez explores how the diverse and fiercely independent peoples of Texas and New Mexico came to think of themselves as members of one particular national community or another, in the years leading up to the Mexican-American War.
"Reséndez command of general political, economic, and cultural issues is remarkable. Highly recommended."
CHOICE"...this book is a major contribution to borderlands and western studies and in many ways provides a valuable link between Spanish colonial history of the area and United States history."
Journal of American History, Gilberto M. Hinojosa, University of the Incarnate Word"The major purpose of Andrés Reséndez's Changing National Identities at the Frontier is to examine the complex and overlapping ethnic identities of the peoples in Texas and New Mexico in the decades preceding occupation of the region by the United States. In doing so, Reséndez challenges the traditional historiography of the field that has dealt with the nationalities of Mexicans and Americans as if these were monolithic identities. He argues that individuals and communities in the region struggled with "enormous ambiguities and constant shifts" in identity because a nation had not yet been constructed where they lived. Through his cogent argument Reséndez makes a splendid contribution to the historiography of the borderlands between the U.S. and Mexico."
John R. Chávez, Southern Methodist UniversityAndrés Reséndez writes in truly synoptic ways about Mexico's far north becoming the American southwest in the early nineteenth century. Somehow he manages to keep in play Spain and Mexico, Mexico and the U.S., Texas and New Mexico, native-born and foreign-born, Mexican American, Anglo American, and Native American, traders and governors, men and women, and Mexican historiography and American historiography. The key to his success is a situational approach to identities-in-the-making shaped by powerful political and commercial forces that does not lose sight of particular circumstances and arresting episodes of frontier political life. This is one of those rare, well-researched books that treats national frontiers and histories from more than one side of the eventual border.
William B. Taylor, University of California, Berkeley"Reséndez has produced a compulsively readable book distinguished for the depth of its research, making subtle use of evidence as diverse as contemporary memoirs, newspaper accounts, travelers' narratives, and both Mexican and American archival sources. He touches on such themes as the centralist/federalist conflict in Mexico itself, the Texas Revolution and the Mexican-American War, the social history of intermarriage between Anglos and Mexicans, and the pull of the U.S. market economy. A key to the book's originality is that it is written primarily from the Mexican perspective, although with balance. Reséndez skillfully blends economic, political, and cultural history in a way that throws new light on the separatist impulse in the Mexican north in the wake of Independence, on political and cultural identities in the Borderlands, and Mexican domestic politics."
Dr. Eric Van Young, University of California, San DiegoIn the decades before the U.S.-Mexico War of 1846-1847, the American Southwest belonged to Mexico, but the United States economy washed over the region. In this fresh, imaginative, and timely narrative, Andrés Reséndez probes the hearts and minds of Mexicans, Anglos, and Indians torn between two nations contending for their loyalties."
David J. Weber, Southern Methodist University"Historians routinely call for a new, transnational history; Andres Reséndez has simply gone ahead and written one. Grounded in both the history of Mexico and the history of the United States, Changing National Identities at the Frontier recontextualizes familiar stories and events and, in doing so, alters their meaning. This is an important book whose influence should go far beyond both Mexican and American history."
Richard White, Stanford University"...this book is well argued and is a must-read for both American and Mexican scholars interested in borderlands history or in the construction of identity."
New Mexico Historical Review
Explores the shaping of national identities in Texas and New Mexico in 1846-48.
This book explores how the diverse and fiercely independent peoples of Texas and New Mexico came to think of themselves as members of one particular national community or another in the years leading up to the Mexican-American War. Hispanics, Native Americans, and Anglo Americans made agonizing and crucial identity decisions against the backdrop of two structural transformations taking place in the region during the first half of the 19th century and often pulling in opposite directions.
About the Author
Andréz Reséndez is Assistant Professor at the Department of History at UC Davis. He is from Mexico City where he obtained his undergraduate degree in International Relations from El Colegio de México. He did his graduate work at the University of Chicago and later worked in Mexico to work as a professional consultant to historically-based television programs. Having obtained his Ph.D. in 1997, he returned to the US as Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Yale Universitity. He has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and the American Southwest. He has written articles about Mexico's northern frontier and the Mexican-American War for leading journals both in Mexico and in the United States. He is the editor and translator of A Texas Patriot on Trial in Mexico: José Antonio Navarro and the Texan Santa Fe Expedition, forthcoming in the Texas Library Series. He is also a member of the American Historical Association (AHA), the Organization of American Historians (OAH), and the Latin American Studies Association (LASA).
Table of Contents
1. Carved spaces: Mexico's far north, the American southwest, or Indian domains?; 2. A nation made visible: patronage, power, and ritual; 3. The spirit of mercantile enterprise; 4. The Benediction of the Roman ritual; 5. The Texas Revolution and the not-so-secret history of shifting loyalties; 6. The fate of Governor Albino Pérez; 7. State, market, and literary cultures; 8. New Mexico at the razor's edge.