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Spanish American Identity in New Mexico

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Danielle Delgado

on 14 September 2017

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Transcript of Spanish American Identity in New Mexico

Spanish American Identity in New Mexico
In previous lectures, such as: "Mexicans in the Post-Conquest Era" (1848-1890) and "Institutional Responses to Mexicans" (1890-1930); we discussed the loss of Mexicans' economic, social, and political power.

Today we are going to examine John Nieto-Phillips' "Blood of the Spirit," and learn how these occurrences of oppression contributed to the creation and implementation of the Spanish-American Identity in New Mexico.
Progressive Educators
The un-American Other
Mexicans in the Post-Conquest Era
Exclusion, displacement, and
subtractive assimilation

After the United States declared war on Spain in 1898, Anglo-Americans began to question the loyalty of the Spanish-speaking population in New Mexico.

Institutional Responses to Mexicans
Institutional racism and social segregation

President Taft seeking to make English the sole language of classroom instruction and the United States government (1910).

Thus, from the 1890s-1930s Nuevomexicanos worked against these instances of "cultural erosion" to take back control over symbols of their identities through the
"Cultural Purists"

was a movement that embodied particular beliefs and assumptions about the continuation of the Spanish legacy in the America.

Initially gained momentum in the 1880s-1890s with the increased studying of both Spanish and "Spanish American" history the lens of colonization.

translates literally to ones'
and is defined as "the generic character of all people of Hispanic language and culture" (171).
This sentiment was used by Nuevomexicanos as a declaration of their own identity.
Distinct from hispanophilia.

After the Spanish-American War (1898) many Spanish intellectuals turned to hispanismo as form of national recovery.
Miguel de Unamuno: "Language is the blood of spirit."

By the 1910s, Nuevomexicanos began to take pride in their culture and history of colonization, and started defended themselves against further marginalization (i.e. deprivation of Spanish) ... this resulted in the creation of their new identity: Spanish-American.
Aurelio Espinosa and Benjamin Read
Aurelio Espinosa
Benjamin Read
"Spanish American"
Hispanistas believed that Spanish Americans and Spaniards were a collective: "
a raza shaped more by common culture, historical experiences, traditions, and language than by blood or ethnic factors
" (177).
Spanish history and language emerged as lasting symbols of Nuevomexicanos "Spanish" (white) racial identity.

Historian, Arthur Campa, theorized that the "Spanish-American" identity
served three purposes
It removes the criticism of being a Mexican
It makes him/her a member of the "white" race
It expresses his/her American citizenship

There is a variety of opinions concerning the "purity" of New Mexico's Spanish language and culture, as well as the intentions behind the use of this label.
Ranging from cultural purists to progressive educators.

Adelina (Nina) Otero-Warren
Some question the legitimacy of the claim "Spanish American" identity and its success against political and social marginalization.
Historian, Arthur Campa, 1930
Carey McWilliams, 1949: "fantasy heritage."
Continuing of the "do not speak Spanish policy"

"Did Spanish American identity, in fact, succeed in winning Nuevomexicanos 'exemption from discrimination'?" (4)

Nieto-Phillips (and Campa) agree that neither hispanophilia or hispanidad, helped to make lasting improvements regarding their political, economic, social control.
Regarding Anglo hispanophilia: "their adoration and tourist dollars did not translate into civic, racial, or political equality for 'Spanish Americans.'" (204).
Comes with the recognizing their 'true' mestizo roots.
They both aggressively claimed and defended authority of New Mexico's "Spanish" history, language, and culture.
was a linguist who argued that Nuevomexicanos were direct descendents of the Spanish families who were the first settlers of Northern New Mexico.
Rested on the idea of linguistic purity, embedded in their language and folklore.
Shaped the way people appreciated Spanish (1907-1911)

was a lawyer scholar, who labeled himself a
historiador mexicano
, and felt it was his personal responsibility to correct the written inaccuracies of New Mexico's past.
He worked to denounce Anglo-Americans' prejudice.
Encourage Nuevomexicanos to be proud of their conquistadorial past (1910-1919)

By the 1920s, Nuevomexicanos throughout New Mexico had begun to look to Spanish history and language as symbols of their identity (197).
"Spanish is the language of our parents. Today it is our own, and it will be the language bestowed upon us by those who discovered the New World. We are American citizens, for certain, and... must learn the language of our country... [Y]et we need not negate in the process our roots, our race, our language, our tradition, our history, or our ancestry, because we shall never be ashamed of these. On the contrary they shall make us proud."

- Aurora Lucero, 1911

Lucero and Otero-Warren
Lucero and Otero-Warren invoked their hispanidad as a defense against institutional attacks on their language and culture.
Both women defended bilingual instruction and denounced English-only education.
1891: major school law passed bringing controversy
1905: Nuevomexicano superintendents being replaced
1909: Spanish-American Normal School

believed language was a source of ethnic pride and identity, not a barrier.
Contributed to what other scholars call "the feminization of the Hispanic teaching force" (200).
Helped redefine instruction and language policy in schools

developed a historically relevant curriculum which made schooling culturally relatable.
Proposed incorporating "hidden resources" into curriculum.
Left the greatest imprint on the archival record of bilingual education in New Mexico.
Developed the "Bilingual Method" (1938).
Spanish American: An invented identity that originated from varying struggles against marginalization.
Supported by hispanistas and a Hispanophilic movement.

Many hispanistas argued in defense of its legitimacy claiming that the proof existed in culture and language (or blood of the spirit).
Excluded the idea of being mestizo.

Deconstructed and deemed a facade
Mostly unsuccessful attempt at regaining control and creating lasting improvements.

Would recognizing and embracing mestizo roots have made a greater impact?
Full transcript