Research in History

National Identity on a Shifting Border: Texas and New Mexico in the Age of Transition, 1821-1848

Reséndez, Andrés

Traditionally, we have told the story of how nations emerged as a triumphant tale of domination exerted by a determined center over reluctant peripheries and by persuasive officials over skeptical masses. The literature depicts state formation and nation building as originating from the core outward and from top to bottom. Sitting at the apex of all political and social organizations, the state has been granted the leading role. After all, it was the state that built the infrastructure linking the center to all corners of the nation, increasing the network of communications within a territory and thus helping integrate a national market. Under the auspices of the state, a nationalist ideology was fashioned and disseminated to all prospective citizens. And it was the state bureaucracy, employing novel means of communication such as mass education, that perpetuated the nation unto subsequent generations. Whether accounts spotlight institutions or identities, the underlying theme is centralization: The national state wins out over lesser political organizations and potential challengers, and the people divest themselves of previous ethnic or local loyalties as the nation becomes their overriding identity.

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Garden of the World: Asian Immigrants and the Making of Agriculture in California's Santa Clara Valley

Tsu, Cecilia

Nearly a century before it became known as Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara Valley was world-renowned for something else: the succulent fruits and vegetables grown in its fertile soil. InGarden of the World, Cecilia Tsu tells the overlooked, intertwined histories of the Santa Clara Valley's agricultural past and the Asian immigrants who cultivated the land during the region's peak decades of horticultural production. Weaving together the story of three overlapping waves of Asian migration from China, Japan, and the Philippines in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Tsu offers a comparative history that sheds light on the ways in which Asian farmers and laborers fundamentally altered the agricultural economy and landscape of the Santa Clara Valley, as well as white residents' ideas about race, gender, and what it meant to be an American family farmer.

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Evaluating the Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis with Generic Variation Exhibited by Populations in the Southwest and Mesoamerica

Kemp, Brian M., Ripan S. Malhi, Reséndez Andrés, et al.

The Farming/Language Dispersal Hypothesis posits that prehistoric population expansions, precipitated by the innovation or early adoption of agriculture, played an important role in the uneven distribution of language families recorded across the world. In this case, the most widely spread language families today came to be distributed at the expense of those that have more restricted distributions. In the Americas, Uto-Aztecan is one such language family that may have been spread across Mesoamerica and the American Southwest by ancient farmers. We evaluated this hypothesis with a large-scale study of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-chromosomal DNA variation in indigenous populations from these regions. Partial correlation coefficients, determined with Mantel tests, show that Y-chromosome variation in indigenous populations from the American Southwest and Mesoamerica correlates significantly with linguistic distances (r = 0.33-0.384; P < 0.02), whereas mtDNA diversity correlates significantly with only geographic distance (r = 0.619; P = 0.002). The lack of correlation between mtDNA and Y-chromosome diversity is consistent with differing population histories of males and females in these regions. Although unlikely, if groups of Uto-Aztecan speakers were responsible for the northward spread of agriculture and their languages from Mesoamerica to the Southwest, this migration was possibly biased to males. However, a recent in situ population expansion within the American Southwest (2,105 years before present; 99.5% confidence interval = 1,273-3,773 YBP), one that probably followed the introduction and intensification of maize agriculture in the region, may have blurred ancient mtDNA patterns, which might otherwise have revealed a closer genetic relationship between females in the Southwest and Mesoamerica.

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Distribution of Y Chromosomes Among Native North Americans: A Study of Athapaskan Population

Malhi, Ripan S., Angelica Gonzales-Oliver, Andrés Reséndez, et al.

In this study, 231 Y chromosomes from 12 populations were typed for four diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to determine haplogroup membership and 43 Y chromosomes from three of these populations were typed for eight short tandem repeats (STRs) to determine haplotypes. These data were combined with previously published data, amounting to 724 Y chromosomes from 26 populations in North America, and analyzed to investigate the geographic distribution of Y chromosomes among native North Americans and to test the Southern Athapaskan migration hypothesis. The results suggest that European admixture has significantly altered the distribution of Y chromosomes in North America and because of this caution should be taken when inferring prehistoric population events in North America using Y chromosome data alone. However, consistent with studies of other genetic systems, we are still able to identify close relationships among Y chromosomes in Athapaskans from the Subarctic and the Southwest, suggesting that a small number of proto-Apachean migrants from the Subarctic founded the Southwest Athapaskan populations.

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'Independent of the Unskilled Chinaman': Race, Labor, and Family Farming in California's Santa Clara Valley

Tsu, Cecilia

This study of boosterism and everyday agricultural labor practices in the Santa Clara Valley during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries reveals how the presence of Chinese immigrants in rural California forced white growers to reconceptualize the cherished family farm ideal in a new racial framework.

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Genetics and the History of Latin America

Reséndez, Andrés, and Brian M. Kemp

Given that we live in the much-vaunted era of the “genomics revolution,” one cannot help but wonder whether those long strands of DNA will ever wash up on the historian’s lonely shore. Sure, we are all aware of one or two high-profi le instances when genetic evidence was able to change a historical interpretation. The case that most readily comes to mind is the Y-chromosome DNA test conducted by a retired pathologist in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 1998—intended to settle the question of whether Thomas Jefferson had fathered a child by his slave Sally Hemings.1 Among other things, the ensuing furor and soul-searching produced a spate of works reexamining slavery, miscegenation, and the connections between the private and public spheres in early America.

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An Analysis of Ancient Aztec mtDNA from Tlatelolco: Pre-Columbian Relations and the Spread of Uto-Aztecan

Reséndez, Andrés, Brian M. Kemp, et. al.

The skeletal remains of 23 of 27 Post-Classic Aztec individuals from Tlatelolco, Mexico, were found to contain analyzable mtDNA. These samples were screened for the markers that define the five founding Native American haplogroups. This skeletal collection exhibited 65.2% haplogroup A, 13% haplogroup B, 4.3% haplogroup C, and 17.4% haplogroup D. No individual's mtDNA could be assigned to haplogroup X. The haplogroup frequency distribution of this Aztec sample was compared with that of other Native American populations from the Great Basin, the American Southwest, Mesoamerica, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The haplogroup frequencies found in the Aztecs resemble those of other present-day Central and Southern Mexican and Central American populations, suggesting a great antiquity to this pattern of regional continuity. The data do not support a Central MExican origin of Uto-Aztecan. Rather, they are consistent with those of earlier mtDNA studies that suggested populations from Mesoamerica had little maternal influence on the genetic structure of groups residing in the American Southwest.

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