Mythmaking in the Borderlands: Visibility of Social and Physical Environments Through Visual Media in El Paso, 1910-1920

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2024-05-09

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Abstract

This thesis examines the role of visual media (postcards, photographs, pamphlets) in shaping public perceptions of the different migrant and social groups that made El Paso, Texas their home both before and during the Mexican Revolution, between the years 1900 and 1920. In the latter half of this period, migration from several groups to the city reached a peak, thanks in part to the efforts of the city’s government to attract Caucasian migrants through various forms of visual media. This thesis demonstrates the intentional enforcement of racial and gendered stereotypes in El Paso by the comparative analysis of visual media dating to the relevant period, as well as through written accounts and secondary literature. The visual media published publicly and privately reflected the explicit intent of the city’s enforcement of acceptable social and racial norms during a period of increasing uncertainty due to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution. Promotional materials, in the forms of visual and written media, presented an optimistic vision of the city’s landscapes in order to attract Caucasian American and European migrants.

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migration, Mexican, Anglo, migrant, women, environment, urban, rural, visual, media, visibility, marginalization, postcard, myth, place, social, racial, norm, Revolution, segregation, gender

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