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The Santa Fe Fiesta, Reinvented

Staking Ethno-Nationalist Claims to a Disappearing Homeland
By Sarah Bronwen Horton



The Santa Fe Fiesta, Reinvented adds a new perspective on the controversial identity formation of New Mexico’s Hispanos. Through close readings of canonical texts by New Mexican historian Fray Angélico Chávez about La Conquistadora, a fifteenth-century Marian icon to whom legend credits Don Diego De Vargas’s “peaceful” resettlement, and through careful attention to the symbolic action of the event, this book explores the tropes of gender, time, genealogy, and sexuality through which this form of cultural nationalism is imagined. Interviews and archival research reveal that even as Hispanos were increasingly minoritized in the former homeland site of Santa Fe, Hispano elites progressively invented and re-created the four cultural organizations that organize the Fiesta to lay claim to this disappearing homeland. Such organizations not only Hispanicized the Fiesta’s content and key roles, usurping the role of De Vargas from Anglos, but sacralized their claims through foregrounding the role of Hispanos’ “sacred mother,” La Conquistadora. With narratives of Fiesta organizers and colorful vignettes of life in contemporary Santa Fe, this book documents Hispanos’ veiled protest of Anglo imperialism and the transformation of this city into what has been called an “Adobe Disneyland.”

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