From Pure to Puro: The Racialization of Space Within San Antonio's South Side

Date

2024

Authors

Morales-Ferrari, D'Ago James

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Abstract

This thesis illuminates the history of San Antonio's South Side. While there is abundant literature on the area during San Antonio's colonial period, the South Side's twentieth century story is overlooked in the city's historical narrative. This absence from the historiography needs to be remedied because the South Side's history provides further understanding to the methods of indigenous displacement, the institutionalization of white supremacy, community formation, the methods of organization, and the reasons for grassroots activism. During the mid- to late-nineteenth century, Anglo businessmen gained control of the former mission lands south of San Antonio's urban core. Their utilization of discriminatory practices led to the area's Anglicization. However, by the 1950s, ethnic Mexicans began to move into the South Side. Their newfound sense of socioeconomic mobility led to them challenging the area's longheld racial power structure. The Mexican-American presence in the South Side catalyzed former Anglo residents to move north, taking with them theirs and the city administration's financial and material resources. This resource reallocation led to the area's physical decline. The resultant infrastructural instabilities soon defined the South Side's colloquial identity. But, the ethnic Mexican residents did not let it define their self identities and notions of community. Their responses to the instabilities demonstrates not only their commitment to communal advancement, but also how deeply engrained white supremacy is within the city's foundation.

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Keywords

Boosterism, Chicano/a, Mexican American, San Antonio, South Side, Suburbanization

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Department

History