Chapter

Significant to Whom?: Mexican Americans and the History of the American West

David G. GutiéRrez

in A New Significance

Published in print January 1997 | ISBN: 9780195100471
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854059 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195100471.003.0003
Significant to Whom?: Mexican Americans and the History of the American West

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In considering Mexican-American history, one might argue that the debate about the significance or importance of ethnic Mexican people in the American West has reflected the central themes of the social and political history of the region. The most important theme unifying this chapter was obvious concern to represent ordinary working-class Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants as complex, fully formed, and fully functional human beings. Although this might not seem to be a significant point, when viewed in the context of the times this work should be seen as the first stage of a bold project of excavation and recovery that was designed, at least partially, to upset the prevailing regional social order by demonstrating the extent to which stereotypes about Mexicans were the products of Americans' active, and truly powerful, imaginations. A brief discussion of George I. Sánchez's research helps illustrate some of the ways Mexican-American scholars of this period used their work both to advance objective knowledge and to alter what had become the master discourse used to describe Mexicans in the United States.

Keywords: Mexican Americans; Mexicans; immigrants; George I. Sánchez; stereotypes; United States; American West; history; social order

Chapter.  16453 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Methods and Historiography

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