History ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-30-2020


New Mexicans positioned defeat, surrender, and captivity at the center of their narrative of World War II and incorporated the surrender of Bataan into New Mexico’s long history of service, sacrifice, and suffering as part of the United States. During and after the war, they created rituals, spaces, and texts that made the surrender a permanent and defining feature of the state’s social, cultural, and political landscape, which challenges the prevailing victory narrative that tends to dominate public commemorations of the war. Importantly, this dissertation shifts our gaze to investigate how defeat and surrender, and the corresponding experiences of surrendered and captive men, and their families, shaped and gave texture to some Americans’ memories of war. Indeed, victory is largely absent from New Mexico’s public remembrances of World War II. Furthermore, situating New Mexico’s experience with World War II in the larger span of the state’s history enlarges the frameworks at our disposal for better understanding the ways communities’ experiences diverged during the war, and where in time and space those differences are visible.

Level of Degree


Degree Name


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Jason Scott Smith

Second Committee Member

Melissa K. Bokovoy

Third Committee Member

Durwood Ball

Fourth Committee Member

G. Kurt Piehler




New Mexico, World War II, Bataan, Surrender, Defeat, Memory

Document Type


Included in

History Commons