Cowboys at the Crossroads: Ethnic Mexican Charros and the Making of Postwar San Antonio, 1946-1970
This paper examines the work of the San Antonio Charro Association, a group of middle-class Mexican American men who dressed and performed asbcharrosb(Mexican “gentleman cowboys”) in the years after World War Two. Capitalizing on both Anglo fascination with the Spanish fantasy past and elite forms of Mexican cultural nationalism, charros succeeded not only in winning recognition by Anglo American and Mexican elites but also integrating urban space and institutions. In doing so, they infused nationalist imaginaries of Mexican ranch life into the city’s landscapes and public culture at a key moment in San Antonio's history.
The Beauty of Respect: Mexican American Civil Rights Organizations and Their Beauty Pageants, 1950 to the Present
Lori A. Flores
Though historians of the post-World War II Mexican American civil rights movement and its three most prominent organizations-LULAC, the American GI Forum, and the CSO-have mentioned in passing the beauty pageants that these organizations instituted in the 1950s, there has been no comprehensive study of what these pageants were meant to accomplish, how women were treated within them (or how they took control of them), and what reactions these pageants garnered from the wider public. This paper examines how beauty pageants functioned as a demonstration of Mexican American respectability and Americanness in a Cold War climate, as well as a mode of belonging for young women. Contrary to the notion that beauty contests were a peripheral activity to civil rights work in postwar Mexican America, this paper argues they were essential to validating Mexican American/Chicana beauty in U.S. society, and to birthing and sustaining certain civil rights organizations outside of their founding regions.
Respondent: Ramón Gutiérrez, University of Chicago