This book explores the role of religion in the creation of Arcadian and indigenist historical mythologies in the formation of Southern California following the Mexican–American War. Using an interdisciplinary approach, it examines the assertion of countervailing definitions of place and identity made at various historical moments by Californios (Spanish Colonial and Mexican elites), Mexican-Americans, and Chicana/os. It also examines the emblematic use and transformation of religious iconography in Chicana/o efforts to locate themselves socially and spatially, with particular emphasis on the mobilizing mythology of Aztlán, the mythic homeland of the Aztecs, and how it was redefined as a spiritual metaphor for the unity of all Chicana/os. The book shows how the idea of Aztlán as the Chicana/o homeland implicitly undermined the dominant narrative that portrayed Anglo Americans as the rightful heirs to a bucolic Spanish Arcadia on the shores of the Pacific.
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