Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Yolanda Leyva


Historical memory is unique in that it has one foot in the present and one in the past. Two things are essential to understand historical memory: one being the history that is commemorated and the other the period in which the memory is constructed. El Paso shares a colonial past with Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, the region that was once known as El Paso del Rio del Norte. The colonial history of Ciudad Juárez remains part of El Paso's historical memory. The uniqueness of El Paso's location on the border reconciles several borderlands narratives, including the Spanish Borderlands and the Wild West. Between 1980 and 2010, tourism boosters promoted heritage projects that celebrated the area's colonial history on the U.S. side of the border. This study considers four distinct case studies that influenced the construction of historical memory, reflected the local distinctiveness of El Paso, and explores the motivation behind each project. They include the Four Centuries '81 Celebration, Viva El Paso, The Twelve Travelers Memorial of the Southwest, and the art of Luis Jiménez. While each of the first three projects is ostensibly rooted in heritage, they limit our understanding of El Paso's history, resulting in the need for an intervention. Heritage justice is a process that allows for such an intervention which results in a more inclusive narrative and public representation. My dissertation argues that the 400 years of El Paso history narrative constructed by boosters in the 1980s resulted in the exclusion of other histories, predominantly those of Mexican Americans and working-class communities. Consequently, it erased the significant history that occurred in the El Paso borderland region after the arrival of the railroad in 1881. In addition, my dissertation considers the ways in which Luis Jiménez offered an alternative narrative through his art.




Received from ProQuest

File Size

196 p.

File Format


Rights Holder

Cynthia Teresa Renteria

Available for download on Friday, October 06, 2034

Included in

History Commons