Troublemakers, religiosos, or radicals?: everyday acts of racial integration in a South Texas community
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This dissertation is an historical ethnography that traces the process of racial integration in La Feria, Texas. It understands La Feria as a part of the larger U.S. imagined community, critically assessing its internal boundaries of membership and belonging as they are manifested through practices of Mexican segregation. In this study, I argue that Mexican origin people must re-imagine their community and its internal boundaries in order to promote racial integration. This dissertation demonstrates that the process of racial integration occurred unevenly over a period of three decades. Drawing from theories of cultural citizenship, it demonstrates that through everyday practices— which range from the overtly political to the more quietly subversive—Mexicans successfully transformed local institutions such as the schools, the Catholic Church, and the school board to become more racially inclusive. This work suggests that Mexican origin people used not only their racial positionalities, but also their class, gender, and political affiliations to push forward the process of racial integration. Finally, it xiv demonstrates the increasing significance of socioeconomic class and immigration status among the Mexican origin population in the contemporary period.