By Maria Raquel Casas
Examines the position of Spanish-Mexican ladies within the improvement of California. This e-book describes the background of ladies within the American West and the complicated position of gender, race, and sophistication within the borderlands of the Southwest.
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Additional info for Married To A Daughter Of The Land: Spanish-Mexican Women And Interethnic Marriage In California, 1820-80
Currently, debates over issues of defining a core culture, power, race, ethnicity, and multiculturalism have increased interest in the study of racial mixing, both past and present. Because of historical silence, the fact that most African Americans, Latino Americans, Filipino Americans, and millions of whites have multiracial backgrounds is obscured, while the majority of North Americans continue to speak of race merely in “black” and “white” terms. Indeed, most people in the United States define intermarriage as a predominately black/white experience, even when statistical evidence indicates a higher intermarriage rate between other racial and ethnic groups.
Through formal marriages, concubinage, and sexual relationships based on violence and force, Spanish Women as Cultural Agents 39 Spanish men, Indian women, and African men and women created a multiracial, largely mestizo casta society in which personal and public honor, status, and prestige were largely based on skin color. 33 In the middle were the full-blooded Indians, defined as gente sin razón (people without reason). As these three racial groups intermixed, the task of defining and maintaining a clear color line became increasingly complex.
Although Bancroft pointed only to the most successful marriages between merchants and elite Californianas, implying that this was the universal pattern within interethnic unions, before the war a substantial number of interethnic marriages involved fur trappers, common sailors, adventurers, and deserters from merchant ships—in other words, men who were definitely not of the elite and were perhaps of questionable character and morals. Like marriages everywhere, most succeeded but many failed. Some Californianas even separated from and divorced their “white” husbands.