This book has explored the proximate histories of Mexico and the United States, with particular emphasis on the role of religion in the creation of Arcadian and indigenist historical mythologies in the formation of Southern California following the Mexican–American War. It has illuminated how ethnic Mexicans living in Southern California responded to the experience of living in Mexico de afuera by resorting to a variety of historically contingent expressions of ethnicity and redefinitions of place. It has also discussed the Chicana/os' envisioning of Southern California as either an Arcadian paradise or as a part of Aztlán based on moral and religious discourse that understands colonial encounter and conflict from radically opposing perspectives. This book concludes with an analysis of Carey McWilliams' critique of the selective appropriation and romanticization of California's Spanish colonial history as well as the “sacred” and “profane” components of nationalist expressions of the “Fantasy Heritage” of Aztlán.
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