We're All Americans Now: How Mexican American Identity, Culture, and Gender Forged Civil Rights in World War II and Beyond
AuthorKey, Lora Michelle
AdvisorMorrissey, Katherine G.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction, presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
EmbargoRelease after 07/13/2024
Abstract“We’re All Americans Now: How Mexican American Identity, Culture, and Gender Forged Civil Rights in World War II and Beyond,” argues that World War II was a pivotal moment in the history of race formation and civil rights activism in the Southwest. This dissertation focuses on middle-class Mexican Americans in three Southwest-border cities: Los Angeles, Tucson, and El Paso and how they used wartime necessities to insert themselves into local and national politics to advocate for themselves and all Mexican Americans. These three Southwest cities provide an important case study that highlights class, gender, and race, showing the relationships between middle-class and working-class Mexican Americans, as well as their relationships with Anglos during the war. This project centers on Tucson, with its distinct construction of a historically powerful middle class, while the comparisons to El Paso and Los Angeles highlight the structural and philosophical differences that existed in Mexican-American communities across the Southwest. Divergences of segregation and discrimination in these three cities shaped Mexican Americans’ racial subjectivities and their activism during the war. Middle-class Mexican Americans used their claims to racial whiteness to establish relationships with city and state officials in order to advocate for working-class Mexican Americans. Within that representation, however, the middle class often had to defend Mexican-Americans’ relationship with Mexico and demonstrate their patriotism. Mexican-Americans’ wartime activism led directly to grassroots civil rights programs and agendas that centered squarely on each community’s needs and constraints. As a regionally centered study, this works redefines civil rights activism and the larger understandings of the Mexican-American experience.
Degree ProgramGraduate College