Claiming Citizenship spotlights a community where Mexican Americans, regardless of social class, embraced a common ideology and worked for access to the full rights of citizenship without confrontation or radicalization. Victoria, Texas, is a small city with a
sizable Mexican-descent population dating to the period before the U.S. annexation of the state. There, a complex and nuanced story of ethnic politics unfolded in the middle of the twentieth century.
Focusing on grassroots, author Anthony Quiroz shows how the experience of the Mexican American citizens of Victoria, who worked within the system, challenges common assumptions about the power of class to inform ideology and demonstrates that embracing ethnic identity does not always mean rejecting Americanism. Quiroz identifies Victoria as a community in which Mexican Americans did not engage in overt resistance, labor organization, demonstrations, or the rejection of capitalism, democracy, or Anglo culture and society.
Victoria's Mexican Americans struggled for equal citizenship as the "loyal opposition," opposing exclusionary practices while embracing many of the values and practices of the dominant society.
Various individuals and groups worked, beginning in the 1940s, to bring about integrated schools, better political representation, and a professional class of Mexican Americans whose respectability would help advance the cause of Mexican equality. Their quest for public legitimacy was undertaken within a framework of a bicultural identity
that was adaptable to the private, Mexican world of home, church, neighborhood, and family, as well as to the public world of school, work, and politics. Coexistence with Anglo American society and sharing the American dream constituted the desired ideal.
Quiroz's study makes a major contribution to our understanding of the Mexican American experience by focusing on groups who chose a more subtle, less confrontational path toward equality. Perhaps, indeed, he describes the more common experience of this ethnic population in twentieth-century America.
ANTHONY QUIROZ, an assistant professor of history at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, received his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. A former resident of Victoria, Texas, he has written several articles about the role of Mexican Americans in that city's history. This is his first book.
What Readers Are Saying:
"Anthony Quiroz's book is a milestone in Mexican American historiography."--Journal of American History
". . . well-researched, well-written work. . . . Quiroz makes every effort to present both sides of every issue . . ." --Jose Roberto Juarez, Texas A&M International University (retired)
". . . extremely valuable because it speaks to a side not well developed in other works."--Ignacio M. Garcia, Brigham Young University
"While early writings on Mexican American history rebuked political styles that did not resemble the confrontational method used by Chicano Movement militants during the 1960s and 1970s, Anthony Quiroz argues that in Victoria, Texas, Mexican Americans have historically adhered to a more consensual course—pressing through conventional avenues for greater access to education, political representation, and economic opportunity—in efforts to achieve the American dream. The political model seen in Victoria . . . Claiming Citizenship suggests, has been the one traditionally employed in other Texas Mexican communities. Claiming Citizenship thus makes a strong case for studying the politics of consensualism and reconsidering older interpretations that impugn the accommodationist approach." --Arnoldo De León, Angelo State University
". . . a fine example of the newest generation of Chicano historical scholarship. Exploring the complexities of the Mexican American experience in Victoria, Texas, Quiroz explains how Mexican Americans there quietly sought equal citizenship by accepting and working towards the American dream and co-existence with Anglo-American society." --Richard Griswold del Castillo, author, The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Legacy of Conflict