CCS 320 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Mexican Repatriation, Oscar Handlin, Mexican Americans

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16 Nov 2017
Becoming Mexican American
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Chapter 1: Farewell Homeland
1. In the late 19th and early 20th century, what were the economic attractions of the U.S. for
Mexican immigrants?
● They were able to Leave their dictator Porfirio Diaz
● Mexicans were given a place to stay
● Stable paying job
2. What immigration laws passed in the late 19th and early 20th century contributed to a
demand for Mexican labor in the U.S.?
The passage of the Immigration Act of 1917 or the Alien Contract Labor law of 1885
Chinese exclusion act
Japanese gentlemen’s agreement
3. What were the push factors that led Mexicans north?
● Porfirio Diaz-confiscated ejidos
● Mexican Civil War
4. How did railroads facilitate the migration of Mexicans?
There was a huge demand for workers
5. Describe the development and effects of the railroads in Mexico.
● A hope to unify the nations and modernize its economy
6. Why has Mexico (under P. Diaz) been described as a “nation of villages”?
Riot and rebellion amongst other villages in Porfirio Diaz
7. What were some of the social/cultural characteristics of Mexican villages?
● It was a communal village
8. How was village “culture” changing under P. Diaz?
Hacendados (landowners) were losing their property, because the railroad drove up land
Chapter 2:  Across the Dividing Line
1. How did immigrants leave their hometowns and arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border?
(Describe the complex process, which includes internal migration).
● On a train
Enganchadores (recruiters) would come and persuade Mexicans to come work for the
railroads and mines.
● Employees saw Mexicans as a desirable labor force
2. What were the effects of Mexican migration on border towns?
● Circular Migration was taking effect on border towns
Instead of migrating and just staying there, families would cross the border to work and
then go back home
3. What were the three patterns of male migration?
● Young single men who hoped to relieve their family’s dire economic situation in Mexico
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Married men formed a second group of migrants who desperately needed to help their
families by working in the U.S.  and sending money home
Some males arrived in family groups, as children/head of households who brought their
family with them
4. What is the difference between European chain migration and Mexican circular
● European chain migration: One comes to stay, then other people follow to stay
● Mexican circular migration: Came to the U.S. to work and went back home to Mexico
5. How did migrants pay for the costs of the trip?
6. Describe border crossings before and after 1917 (include head tax, literacy exam,
Border Patrol, and “arbitrariness.”)
Becoming Mexican American by George Sanchez
What happens culturally to immigrants who form part of the Great Mexican migration to
the U.S. in the early 20th century?
● Theoretical lecture?
Oscar Handlin, The Uprooted (1951). Writing about European immigrants in the 19th and
early 20th century, he argues that there is a painful process in which immigrants lose
their culture and become absorbed into the U.S. society
● Thesis extended: all immigrants lose their culture
● Culture is a “liability” (it’s a bad thing)
○ Liability: the state of being responsible for something, especially by law
Revisionist historians
John Bodnar, The Transplanted (1985). Immigrants retain their cultural roots even when
transplanted in new ground
● Ethnicity/culture as asset rather than liability
● Early Chicano historians and retention of “culture”
○ Identity in opposition to dominant culture
○ “Cultural resistance”
“To acculturate is not merely to exercise a cultural preference but to go to the other side.”
JUan-Gomez Quinones
“Mexican” and “american” cultures “static” and impermeable.
This classic concept of culture seeks out the ‘Mexican’ or Anglo American,’ grants little
space to the mundane disturbances that so often erupt during border crossings- Renalto
Fluid identities?
● Can people have “multiple or fluid identities”/
○ Contemporary theorists say “Yes.”
○ Moreover cultural influences not just Anglo American and Mexican
● Why does Sanchez title his book Becoming Mexican American?
○ George Sanchez fits into what theoretical…
■ Challenging Uprooted
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○ Big/historical events that lead to Mex-Amer identity
■ Depression: caused repatriation
■ Demographic shift: Immigrants having children in U.S.
■ Mex-Amer civil rights organizations
Pull Factors in the U.S.
● Capitalist farming
-Requires irrigated land (year-round)
● Railroads, requires large number of workers
● 10% of Mexico’s population came to
Great Depression
● General COntext
● 1930 6 million people unemployed; by 1932 11 million people unemployed
● A lot of White people out of work
● Started practicing scarcity
● Mexican families suffered too
● State, local, and federal laws restricting employment to citizens (Alien Labor Law)
● Survival gre harder
Expulsing Mexican
-350,000-1 million
-Local, state govt plus priv. Businesses worked to do 3 things: 1. Get Mexicans to
“voluntarily” leave(create laws, Harassment, segregation, direct violence, vigilante violence)
2. Save Welfare $ 3. Create Jobs for “real” Americans: agriculture jobs
● “Tar and feather”: Would put hot tar and feathers on someone’s body
● “Caravans of Sorrow”
● Creating climate of fear through intimidation
○ INS: Public notices/door to door/raids
○ U.S. government subcommittee calls actions “tyrannical”
● Violence/threats of violence
Mexican Government Role During “Repatriation?”
● Trains for transportation
● Mexican Consulate $
● Agricultural colonies: Big bust
○ Entering country w/out legal documents
○ Committing crime
Repatriation and rural areas
● Initially growers not in agreement --lower wages (2 workers for every job)
● 1933: Massive strikes
○ Up until 1933, growers didn’t want Mexicans to leave
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