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In The Name Of The Father, The Governor, And "A-1 Good Men": Performing Gender and Statehood In Territorial New Mexico, 1880 - 1912

  • Author(s): Sanchez, Sabrina
  • Advisor(s): Haas, Lisbeth
  • et al.

Marginalized husbands, fathers, and sons on dramatically different positions within territorial New Mexico's social, racial, and class hierarchies constructed and performed the identity of young, able-bodied, industrious "A-1 good men" when demanding entitlements from governors, penitentiary wardens, chiefs of the Mounted Police Force, and Bureau of Immigration officials in a fledgling territory that desperately coveted statehood. Not a Hispano identity, an Anglo identity, or an affluent one, this gendered identity embodied a representation of the man territorial authorities defined as the ideal New Mexican, an image deemed necessary to merit and achieve equal inclusion in the United States.

I argue that New Mexico's underfunded institutions of the Territorial Penitentiary, Mounted Police Force, Bureau of Immigration, and territorial courts--institutions designed to facilitate New Mexico's transition from a demeaned site of Spanish, Mexican, and indigenous Pueblo authority to a celebrated site of U.S., Anglo, and federal authority--enabled this gendered representation to flourish.

This dissertation interrogates how and why territorial institutions differentially recognized those with whom they interacted, directly or tangentially, including immigrant miners, an incarcerated pregnant African American teenager and her veteran father, an elderly Anglo female murder victim, imprisoned Hispano husbands, Hispana business owners in need of police protection, and young Anglo "cowmen" seeking employment.

New Mexico's status as a peripheral participant in the nation propelled a milieu of unbelonging and rigorous racialization. Scrutinizing demands for entitlements found in the correspondence, advertisements, and judicial proceedings of territorial institutions illuminates a gendered rhetorical pattern that determined whose labor would be considered most valuable, whose testimony would be granted the most consideration in court, whose family would merit wages from territorial employment, and whose presence would be most welcome outside of the penitentiary.

New Mexico's territorial institutions are spaces where the enmeshment of race, gender, working-class masculinity, and political disenfranchisement is highly visible. These institutions did not evaluate gendered claims of entitlement equally. How women--whether Hispana, Anglo, African American, immigrant, native-born, young, elderly, domestic worker, or business owner--negotiated this space in political transition challenges the ubiquitous performances of masculinity harnessed to obtain privileges from territorial institutions.

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