Colonial Intimacies: Interethnic Kinship, Sexuality, and Marriage in Southern California, 1769–1885

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University of Oklahoma Press, Jan 25, 2018 - History - 408 pages
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“A gem of historical scholarship!”—Vicki L. Ruiz, author of From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America

How do intimate relationships reveal, reflect, enable, or enact the social and political dimensions of imperial projects? In particular, how did colonial relations in late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century southern California implicate sexuality, marriage, and kinship ties? In Colonial Intimacies, Erika Pérez probes everyday relationships, encounters, and interactions to show how intimate choices about marriage, social networks, and godparentage were embedded in larger geopolitical concerns. Her work reveals, through the lens of social and familial intimacy, subtle tools of conquest and acts of resistance and accommodation among indigenous peoples, Spanish-Mexican settlers, Franciscan missionaries, and European and Anglo-American merchants.

Concentrating on Catholic conversion, compadrazgo (baptismal sponsorship that often forged interethnic relations), and intermarriage, Pérez examines the ways indigenous and Spanish-Mexican women helped shape communities and sustained their culture. She uncovers an unexpected fluidity in Californian society—shaped by race, class, gender, religion, and kinship—that persisted through the colony’s transition from Spanish to American rule.

Colonial Intimacies focuses on the offspring of interethnic couples and their strategies for coping with colonial rule and negotiating racial and cultural identities. Pérez argues that these sons and daughters experienced conquest in different ways tied directly to their gender, and in turn faced different options in terms of marriage partners, economic status, social networks, and expressions of biculturality.

Offering a more nuanced understanding of the colonial experience, Colonial Intimacies exposes the personal ties that undergirded imperial relationships in Spanish, Mexican, and early American California.

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List of Illustrations
Forging and Forcing Intimate Bonds through Compadrazgo 17691848
Intimacy Contempt and Loyalty in Spanish and Mexican California
Women as Community Builders and Sustainers
Intermarriage in Southern California
Mexicanized Extranjeros and Americanized Californios
Regulating the Intimate in Mexican and American Southern California
Legalized Compadrazgo and Guardianship as Social Safety Nets and Snares
Interethnic Childrearing and Biethnic Childrens Choices in American

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About the author (2018)

Erika Pérez is Associate Professor of History, and Affiliated Faculty in Gender and Women’s Studies, at the University of Arizona, Tucson.

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