Marketing Femininity: Women, Gender, and Power in the Mexican Fiestas Patrias in California, 1940-1945

Rita Velasco, University of Arizona

Mexican-Americans and Mexican nationals have contributed to regional histories on both sides of the border. My project investigates how social power dynamics were negotiated in the US/Mexico Borderland through Mexican patriotic and cultural celebrations in Fresno, CA. I chose to showcase Mexican patriotic holiday celebrations to unravel the complex set of social, financial, and family networks—many of which crossed political borders—that typify negotiation methods and exemplify the unique ways that community building occurred in the region. In addition to social networks, an analysis of Mexican Independence Day Parade queen competitions (La Reina de La Fiesta Patria) provides a better understanding of how women shaped community building and stretched the boundaries of acceptable female behavior. The competitions helped determine accepted gender performance and created various social, political, and economic networks through their female participants. A study of Mexican patriotic celebrations showcases the methods used by transcultural communities to create regional and national identities

No extended abstract or paper available

 Presented in Session 85. Histories of Gender, Resistance, and Women's Empowerment in the Americas