Monthly Archives: March 2014

Review: Manifesting America: The Imperial Construction of U.S. National Space

Rifkin, Mark. Manifesting America: The Imperial Construction of U.S. National Space. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 290 pp. Paperback. $26.96.


Mark Rifkin’s Manifesting America is a pathbreaking and discipline-shattering examination of 1810 to 1850s imperial and subaltern rhetoric between U.S. national authorities and marginalized populations such as Amerindians, early Californios, and ethnic Mexicans. Rifkin extrapolates American legal documents such as the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo to illustrate how the imperial structure of U.S. jurisdiction over the last two centuries created a “simulation of consent” between marginalized peoples and the state (5). He argues that the ways “internalized populations” appropriated and contested North American geographies in a range of “non-fictional writings” demonstrates how U.S. imperial hegemony became embedded in the very language and society of these peoples (6–7).

Manifesting America is divided into four complementary chapters, each examining the manner in which the government articulated sovereignty and authority over contested lands. The first part deconstructs the rhetoric of the 1830 Indian Removal Act and how the U.S. framed “a certain geopolitical grammar” to justify America’s forced migration of Amerindians, especially Cherokees (49, 57). The second chapter examines the rhetoric of popular American figures like Thomas Jefferson and explains how war and expansion exacerbated the legal “inbetweeness” of Anglos and Amerindians (78). The next section investigates Texan property holdings and draws connections between the political identity and economic privilege of ethnic Mexicans, Comanches and Tejanos. The last chapter inspects Californio land claims with the “reservation-paradigm” that allowed the vehicle of violence to legally place indigenous land in the ownership of Anglos and Californios. Each segment of the book provides the reader with several examples of how American imperial rhetoric placated and abused marginalized peoples, and irrevocably appropriated land into national space. Continue reading

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On Comparative Methodology, My Book Manuscript, and Haake’s The State, Removal and Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Mexico

This was originally posted at as a part of an ongoing book review series, “From the Bookshelf.”
The content is not explicitly borderlands but seems relevant to the field.

Back when I was working on my dissertation, I was put in contact with a scholar in Australia – Claudia B. Haake – as her recent monograph was relevant to my research in its content and methodology. Her book, The State, Removal and Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Mexico, 1620-2000, is a comparative treatment of the forced removals of Lenapes (Delawares) by the United States, and Yaquis by Mexico.  As 1/2 of my dissertation dealt with Yaquis crossing the U.S.-Mexican border into the United States, the related scholarship on Porfirian forced removal (enslavement, actually) of Yaquis to the Yucatan was an important backdrop for explaining the flight of Yaqui refugees to Arizona and other points north. The content of her book highlighted some very useful sources that I had yet to uncover.
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Book Review: River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands

Valerio-Jiménez, Omar S. River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands. Durham: Duke University Press, 2013. 384 pp. Paperback. $26.95


In River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands, Omar S. Valerio-Jiménez offers readers an excellent study of the eastern U.S.-Mexico Borderlands. Valerio-Jiménez chronicles the history of the region beginning with the foundation of the Spanish colony of Nuevo Santander and continuing into the nineteenth century as independence transformed it into the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. The work also examines the legal, economic, and social consequences of U.S. westward expansion and the impact of the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo on everyday lives in the region.
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CFP: Bridging North America: Connections and Divides

The official announcement by the journal organizers as originally posted on H-Borderlands is below. -ed

CFP: Bridging North America: Connections and Divides

University of Turku, Finland

August 28-30, 2014

The John Morton Center for North American Studies, established at the University of Turku in 2014, invites proposals for previously unpublished papers for its inaugural conference, “Bridging North America: Connections and Divides,” to be held on August 28-30, 2014. The conference seeks to bring together junior and senior scholars from inter/disciplinary backgrounds from the social sciences and the humanities to explore various cultural, socioeconomic, geographic, and political connections and divides between the United States, Canada, and Mexico, and their global ramifications. The papers may deal with either historical perspectives or contemporary issues, and they may include both empirical and theoretical considerations. We particularly encourage submissions that engage in interdisciplinary and multi-methodological discussions on the study of North America.

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