Attending Conquest: Power and Performance in the US-Mexico Borderlands, 1820s-1880s


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowships




How did people in the US-Mexico borderlands—Mexicanos, Pueblos, Anglos, Chinese, African Americans—shape the meanings of Mexican and US colonial projects in the nineteenth century? This dissertation focuses on a variety of performances, including folk dramas and public processions and treason trials, to better understand how those at the center of continental transformations thought about power and place. This project gains insight into these cultural practices by consulting with those who participate in borderland performance cultures today and by analyzing the nineteenth-century archival record. By centering performance, it foregrounds borderland performers as thinkers, creators, actors—revealing worldviews that were not confined to the realm of print culture. Working across history, performance studies, and Native American studies, this project demonstrates that nineteenth-century meanings of “conquest” went beyond Anglo-centric frontier myths. These meanings were multiple and cross-cultural, and continue to inform the region’s sense of power and place today.