Competing visions: the politics of racial and ethnic identity formation and land use in Pasadena, 1771-1890

Yvette J Saavedra, University of Texas at El Paso


This project studies the competing visions of land use and racial/ethnic exclusion in Pasadena, California throughout the period from 1771-1890. This work examines how the landscape of the San Gabriel Region during the Spanish, Californio, and American Period reflects culturally subjective ideas about race and visions of optimal land use. It looks at the links between the racialization of space and people and interrogates how racial and cultural attitudes regarding optimal land use constructed the social identities of those who lived in the region. By looking at the continuities that exist between Spanish, Californio, and American attitudes regarding land use it shows that the Mission, Rancho, and homestead became tangible representations of political projects engendered through the process of empire building, nation building, expansion, and conquest during each historical period. The common goal of gaining and maintaining control of land and defining landless groups as social, economic, and cultural others was a common tenant of each colonization project. Immediately following the Spanish Conquest, Mission Secularization, and the U.S -Mexico War, the region became contested ground where dominant groups with differing political ideologies negotiated their place in society as a means of making more capital and maintaining their social status; often using land ownership as the basis for societal distinction. Within their respective colonization processes, Spanish missionaries, Californio Rancheros, and American settlers followed a program based on constructed racial and cultural difference as a means of legitimizing their control of the land and solidifying their social power over the landless populations.

Subject Area

American history|Land Use Planning

Recommended Citation

Saavedra, Yvette J, "Competing visions: the politics of racial and ethnic identity formation and land use in Pasadena, 1771-1890" (2013). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI3597251.