Exploring Identity in Spanish California

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 6:00PM

Exploring Identity in Spanish California

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Exploring Identity in Spanish California

During the Spanish colonial period in California (then called Alta California), identities were challenged and overturned, and new ones were created. The rise and solidification of the Californio identity transformed the settler population and the region as a whole, while the lives and identities of indigenous peoples, those living both at the missions and beyond, underwent dramatic change. Gender, a seemingly rigid concept, found fluidity and flexibility on what was known as the frontier of “New Spain,” despite the abuse of women (domestic and sexual) from soldiers and settlers alike. Indigenous women and Californianas played important roles in shaping colonial society.

Join us for presentations by authors Miroslava Chávez-García (Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s) and Lisbeth Haas (Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial Missions and Mexican California) that will touch on the creation, reconstitution, and dismantling of identities during the Spanish colonial period. A Q&A and book signing will follow the presentation.

A tip for our audiences:

This event is the first in a two-part series. The second event, on February 7, 2018, will feature presentations and discussions by three speakers featuring individual stories about identity in Spanish California.

About the Speakers:

Lisbeth Haas is Professor of History and former Chair of the Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in Mexico City. Professor Haas has received awards and grants for her books about California history, which include Saints and Citizens: Indigenous Histories of Colonial and Mexican California; Pablo Tac, Indigenous Scholar Writing on Luiseño Language and Colonial History; and Conquests and Historical Identities in California. Her work focuses on indigenous people, Mexican history and immigration to California, and on writing a people’s history of California and other areas of the United States and Mexico. She is as interested in the written word as in oral culture and politics.

Miroslava Chávez-García is Professor in the Department of History at the University of California, Santa Barbara and holds affiliate status in the departments of Chicana and Chicano Studies and Feminist Studies. She is author of Negotiating Conquest: Gender and Power in California, 1770s to 1880s and States of Delinquency: Race and Science in the Making of California’s Juvenile Justice System. Her current book manuscript, Migrant Longing: Letter Writing across the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands, is a history of migration, courtship, and identity as told through more than 300 personal letters exchanged among family members in the 1960s and 1970s. The book will appear in May 2018 in the David J. Weber series in Borderlands history at the University of North Carolina Press. She is also co-author with Lorena Oropeza of A Chicana & Chicano History of the United States (under contract with Beacon Press). Professor Chávez-García has received awards and fellowships from the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity at Stanford University, Ford Foundation for Diversity, and Organization of American History (OAH) and the Committee for the Germany Residency Program, which awarded her a residency at the University of Tuebingen in 2016. Most recently, the Western Association of Women’s Historians awarded her the Judith Lee Ridge prize for the best article by any member of the organization for “Migrant Longing, Courtship, and Gendered Identity in the U.S.-Mexico Borderlands,” published by the Western History Quarterly in Summer 2016. In November 2017, that same essay will receive the Bolton-Cutter Award from the Western History Association for the best article on Spanish Borderlands history.

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