Women and Families sin Fronteras: New Directions in Gender in the United States/Mexico Borderlands
Panel Proposal: “Women and Families sin fronteras: New Directions in Gender in the US Mexico Borderlands”
“Women and families sin fronteras” brings together three distinct papers across regional and temporal boundaries to discuss the strategies that women in the US Mexico Borderlands deployed to negotiate the geopolitical and cultural shifts set in motion by larger forces such as industrial development, immigration policy, and territorial expansion. While these papers bring to light the distinct dynamics unfolding in places such as eighteenth century Mexico, mid-nineteenth Los Angeles, to turn of the twentieth century Baja California, the panel as a whole centers on understanding how women in the US Mexico Borderlands used their roles as wives and mothers to assert their political and cultural authority in their respective regional communities. Dana Velasco Murillo examines how Indian women were central to the success of silver mining ventures in New Spain during the eighteenth century. Her research underscores the importance of non-Spanish peoples in the formation of communities in the frontiers of New Spain. Margie Brown-Coronel takes the example of Ysabel Varela-del Valle to show how Spanish Mexican women claimed their family’s historical legacy and their cultural authority to maintain their family’s prominence in a shifting cultural and social terrain that was increasingly falling in to the control of Anglo Americans. With tourist boosters and city builders defining the cultural identity of Southern California, the del Valle women sought out moments to preserve their cultural traditions and narrate their version of the region’s history. Veronica Castillo-Munoz examines the central role women played in navigating the changes in labor and immigration policies in the developing industrial communities of turn of the twentieth century Baja California. Focusing on women of mixed race families, Castillo-Munoz illustrates that family migrations and mixed-race unions and marriages contributed to the increase of permanent settlements in Baja California. Together these papers bring into conversation several fields of scholarly inquiry including race and gender in nineteenth century California History, Mexican History, and Borderlands History (to name a few) to highlight how women and families function as important categories of analysis in understanding regional developments. Showing how women, from different regions and historical periods, shared similar concerns while deploying unique strategies to maintain their family’s social and cultural stability, this panel promises to engage a broad scope of audience participants interested in understanding how unifying concepts such as gender and familial arrangements offer numerous possibilities in understanding a region’s social and cultural development.