‘Intellectual History’ Book Explores How Mexican-American Ideas Shaped Texas

“Homeland: Ethnic Mexican Belonging Since 1900” focuses on the ideas, not just the events, that Chicanos have fostered and debated.

By Kristen CabreraJanuary 21, 2021 4:09 pm, , ,

The need to belong is almost as essential to humans as food or shelter. But in the modern world, finding belonging can be complicated, especially in places like Texas where multinational politics and intersecting cultures are at play. Here, the struggle to belong can even leave internal scars.

Author Aaron Sánchez explores the struggle many Mexican-Americans face in his new book “Homeland: Ethnic Mexican Belonging Since 1900.” The Dallas-based college professor told Texas Standard that he wanted the book to be a collection of Chicano intellectual history. He says intellectual historians record the ideas of a time, not just events, and without intellectual histories, we often only learn the part of the story told by privileged groups.

“I was hoping that my work would show that ethnic Mexicans were workers,” Sanchez said, “but they were also lawyers and journalists. And all those folks were also engaged or aware of the important ideas surrounding them. And in fact, they were fluent in those ideas. They were debating them, they were challenging them and they were contributing their own ideas.”

Recording their histories, he says, is important to fully understanding the history of Texas.

“I wanted to show that you can’t really tell the history of Texas, the United States, without the history of ethnic Mexican ideas, without the history of ideas of ethnic Mexicans, and, of course, Chicano ideas are part of that,” he said.

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