Continental Crossroads

Remapping U.S.-Mexico Borderlands History

Continental Crossroads

American Encounters/Global Interactions

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Book Pages: 368 Illustrations: 10 b&w photos, 5 maps, 2 tables Published: November 2004

History > Latin American History, U.S. History, Latin American Studies > Mexico

Published in Cooperation with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University.

The U.S.-Mexico borderlands have long supported a web of relationships that transcend the U.S. and Mexican nations. Yet national histories usually overlook these complex connections. Continental Crossroads rediscovers this forgotten terrain, laying the foundations for a new borderlands history at the crossroads of Chicano/a, Latin American, and U.S. history. Drawing on the historiographies and archives of both the U.S. and Mexico, the authors chronicle the transnational processes that bound both nations together between the early nineteenth century and the 1940s, the formative era of borderlands history.

A new generation of borderlands historians examines a wide range of topics in frontier and post-frontier contexts. The contributors explore how ethnic, racial, and gender relations shifted as a former frontier became the borderlands. They look at the rise of new imagined communities and border literary traditions through the eyes of Mexicans, Anglo-Americans, and Indians, and recover transnational border narratives and experiences of African Americans, Chinese, and Europeans. They also show how surveillance and resistance in the borderlands inflected the “body politics” of gender, race, and nation. Native heroine Bárbara Gandiaga, Mexican traveler Ignacio Martínez, Kiowa warrior Sloping Hair, African American colonist William H. Ellis, Chinese merchant Lee Sing, and a diverse cast of politicos and subalterns, gendarmes and patrolmen, and insurrectos and exiles add transnational drama to the formerly divided worlds of Mexican and U.S. history.

Contributors. Grace Peña Delgado, Karl Jacoby, Benjamin Johnson, Louise Pubols, Raúl Ramos, Andrés Reséndez, Bárbara O. Reyes, Alexandra Minna Stern, Samuel Truett, Elliott Young


“[A]n original, provocative collection of essays shedding new light on the construction and negotiation of borderlands identity from the early-nineteenth century into the 1940s.” — Elizabeth R. Escobedo , Western Historical Quarterly

“[An] exceptional new anthology. . . . [A] set of insightful and nuanced contributions to borderlands history. . . . This is an important book that should be read both by scholars and students of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, and by those who are interested in the relationships between nation building and identity formation.” — Eric V. Meeks , The Americas

“In a brilliant introduction Samuel Truett and Elliot Young guide the reader through long-standing and current debates over the nature of frontiers, borders, and borderlands more generally. . . . This collection highlights some of the best writing in borderlands and Southwest studies and is suitable for classroom use. . . . Overall this fine collection of essays adds considerably to our understanding of this developing field and challenges historians to take seriously the ‘transnational historical terrain’ (p. 328).” — Marc Simon Rodriguez , Journal of Southern History

“It may be emphatically stated that all the essays in Continental Crossroads are well researched and thoughtfully presented. Considering the limited nature of border scholarship (which is so often closely linked with national projects), each and every one of these essays is original, refreshing, and interesting to read. They are vignettes, clarifying snapshots of border life, building blocks constructing a borderlands history which can and should be incorporated into national and regional histories.” — Paul J. Vanderwood , EIAL

“The editors provide an excellent introduction that furnishes a historiographical view of the borderlands as well as a discussion of the evolving perceptions of what comprise the borderlands and borderlands history. . . . All of the essays in the collection are well written and researched. They are united by the common theme of trying to construct, and even negotiate a borderlands identity. Collectively, they demonstrate the value of ‘remapping’ borderlands history as a meeting place of different fields rather than as a separate field of study.” — Don M. Coerver , Journal of Arizona History

“The essays in this book are well researched and clearly and concisely written, and the scholarship is solid and commendable. Beyond those seriously interested in the field, they also are appropriate for other informed readers and upper-division undergraduate and graduate students.” — Dennis Reinhartz , American Historical Review

“This collection demonstrates that engaging the social and cultural complexities of Borderlands history allows for the historical emergence of individuals, groups, and encounters whose histories have been erased by hegemonic approaches.” — Susan M. Deeds, New Mexico Historical Review

“Truett and Young have produced a theoretically savvy anthology that will promote additional research and writing about the U.S.-Mexico border. Their edited volume will find an eager audience among college students and professional historians alike, especially since each contributor has shown how far we have come since the days of Herbert Eugene Bolton.” — Michael M. Brescia , History: Reviews of New Books

"[I]nsightful. . . . [T]he authors skillfully advance engaging and well-researched narratives." — Martha Menchaca, Journal of American History

"This book should be imperative reading for all students and scholars with an interest in history of the Mexico-US border. Essential." — L.T. Cummins , Choice

“Using new approaches and demonstrating the results of extensive research into the archives of both Mexico and the United States, this pathbreaking book provides a new perspective on our common frontier legacies as well as surprising borderland stories involving Chinese immigrants and African American colonizers, transnational identities, and borderland ‘body politics.’ These highly readable original essays comprise a new history of the U.S.-Mexico borderlands, one that is enhanced by poignant human stories. This seminal volume should stimulate new studies of U.S.-Mexico border relations in the years to come. Editors Samuel Truett and Elliott Young are to be congratulated on their accomplishment.” — Howard R. Lamar, Sterling Professor Emeritus of History, Yale University

“While duly acknowledging the foundational work of earlier generations of border-crossing historians, Samuel Truett and Elliott Young and their gritty band of young collaborators bring into focus a more socially complex, multiracial, and multiethnic world of transnational players and history-makers. In their original essays, there are Mexicans and Tejanos, Indians and Chicanos, Chinese and Blacks, mestizos and Anglos, gringos and immigrants, and many more, jostling for room, power, and influence in this contested space in order to construct identities, build communities, and challenge and strengthen institutions. With more intentionality than their elders, Truett, Young, et al. seek to define the field of borderlands studies, a project that requires serious intervention into established narratives, methods, and epistemologies. They have thrown down the gauntlet; I suspect many more young scholars of the United States and the American West, of Latin America and Mexico, of Chicano/a and Ethnic Studies, will rush to join them because they sense that if they don't, they risk becoming obsolete before they even begin their careers.” — Evelyn Hu-DeHart, Professor of History and Director, Center for the Study of Race & Ethnicity in America, Brown University


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Samuel Truett is Assistant Professor of History at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.

Elliott Young is Associate Professor of History at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon; he is the author of Catarino Garza’s Revolution on the Texas-Mexico Border, published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / David J. Weber ix

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction: Making Transnational History: Nations, Regions, and Borderlands / Samuel Truett and Elliott Young 1

Frontier Legacies

Finding the Balance: Bexar in Mexican/Indian Relations / Raul Ramos 35

Fathers of the Pueblo: Patriarchy and Power in Mexican California, 1800-1880 / Louise Pubols 67

Borderland Stories

Race, Agency, and Memory in a Baja California Mission / Barbara O. Reyes 97

An Expedition and Its Many Tales / Andres Resendez 121

Imagining Alternative Modernities: Ignacio Martinez’s Travel Narratives / Elliott Young 151

Transnational Identities

At Exclusion’s Southern Gate: Changing Categories of Race and Class among Chinese Fronterizos, 1882-1904 / Grace Pena Delgado 183

Between North and South: The Alternative Borderlands of William H. Ellis and the African American Colony of 1895 / Karl Jacoby 209

Transnational Warrior: Emilio Kosterlitzky and the Transformation of the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, 1873-1928 / Samuel Truett 241

Body Politics

The Plan de San Diego Uprising and the Making of the Modern Texas-Mexican Borderlands / Benjamin Johnson 273

Nationalism on the Line: Masculinity, Race, and the Creation of the U.S. Border Patrol, 1910-1940 / Alexandra Minna Stern 299

Conclusion: Borderlands Unbound / Samuel Truett and Elliott Young 325

Contributors 329

Index 331
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-3389-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-3353-1
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