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Return to the Mission: Gendered Bonds, Women, and Colonization in San Diego, 1769-1930



Return to the Mission:

Gendered Bonds, Women, and Colonization in San Diego, 1769-1930


Jessica Christian

Doctor of Philosophy in History

University of California, Irvine, 2019

Professor Vicki L. Ruiz, Chair

My dissertation explores the interactions, relationships, and bonds among women across race and class in the greater San Diego area, including what is now Riverside County. Under Spanish, Mexican, and American colonization, settler and native women played pivotal roles, especially in the areas of education and labor. Whether church or state sanctioned, through private organizations or personal relationships, new Office of Indian Affairs arrivals deployed strategies of “uplift” in their dealings with indigenous peoples as a way to exert power and control over them. And native people resisted these efforts to “uplift” them in a myriad of ways. While I look at the motivations and actions of both settler and colonized people, particularly women, good intentions do not negate the violent impact of Spanish, Mexican, and American colonization on native communities. Colonizers committed what feminist scholars refer to as gendercide, a sustained attack to destroy gender roles through emotional, physical, psychological, sexual, and spiritual violence. My work interrogates the continuities in colonial relationships, especially with regards to women. Approaching the subject by focusing on continuity demonstrates how gendered education and labor served as the foundation of colonial settlements across time.

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