The materiality of Tejano identity
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Scholars have examined Tejano identity through various theoretical and methodological lenses, but in general, all are interested in highlighting Tejano agency in the development of Texas. As diachronic examinations of identity, these investigations are often situated in terms of shifting ethnic identities, where a broad range of backgrounds came to share common concepts of Tejano identity through shared experiences and the dynamic context of the frontier. This dissertation builds upon this research and comprehensively evaluates Tejano identity through an examination of the archaeological record from a perspective based in theories of materiality. Like previous investigations, my dissertation is a diachronic study that conceptualizes Tejano identity as a changing ethnic identity, but as an examination rooted in material culture studies, my dissertation provides a new perspective into the role of Tejano agency in the development of region. My dissertation asks what objects and what material practices were integral to the formation of Tejano identity and how did those practices change over time? To answer these questions, I compared the material worlds of various Tejano families and individuals from the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and explored how objects were enmeshed in the work of subject formation over time. In my dissertation, I present the archaeological and archival data from three case study sites, the eighteenth century deposits at Spanish Governor’s Palace (41BX179), the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century deposits at and the Delgado Cistern (41BX1753) and the Mexican Period Padrón-Cháves Midden and Siege of Béxar entrenchment (41BX1752) as well as a number of other related sites. The comparative analyses reveal that local traditions, technologies, and practices contributed to the establishment of a distinct regional identity in the early eighteenth century. Many aspects of this identity endured into the nineteenth century, although other aspects of identification began to shift due to the introduction of new material practices through an illicit trade network that helped to forge a unified Tejano identity across frontier communities. Finally, the unprecedented amount of goods introduced to the frontier along with Anglo-American colonists during the Mexican Period exposed Tejanos to an array of new practices that fractured Tejano identity and reshaped the frontier.