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This study analyzes the nature of identity formation discourses and processes in terms of race, gender, citizenship, and educational attainment at the turn of the twentieth century in the communities of Nogales, Arizona, and Albuquerque, New Mexico. This study articulates the labyrinthine nature of the lived experiences of Hispanics with respect to how externally-imposed ideas of social interaction manifested themselves in these borderlands communities. One of the themes of this work is the analysis of the role of early public schools in their effort to create a cohesive identity among their diverse students. In this analysis significant questions relating to identity come to the forefront. For example, how similar were the social interactions among different groups in these border towns with respect to the social interactions in other contemporary cities in the U.S. Southwest region? What types of nationalist discourses accompanied the formation of early schools in Nogales and throughout the greater borderlands region? The effects of these discourses on the educational attainment of Hispanic students in Nogales and Albuquerque are examined and reveal low levels of high school graduation among Hispanic students when these graduation rates are compared to demographic statistics in their two cities. This study explains the sociohistorical context of the formation of these cities public schools in addition to exploring how Americanization shaped the educational attainment of Hispanic students therein from the 1890s until the early 1940s. This study also comments on the overall contradictions of the intercultural exchanges seen throughout the greater U.S.-Mexico borderlands region. Many complex factors played a role in the educational outcomes of the students considered in this investigation, but the Americanization rhetoric reflected in school pedagogies (and the general absence of Hispanic educators/role models) helped bring about the low educational attainment of Hispanic students. This study primarily relies on primary source documents, including oral histories, available through archival sources in Nogales and Albuquerque, as well as elsewhere in Arizona and New Mexico. This study seeks to contribute to the discussion of the history of the education and citizenship identity of Mexican Americans in the borderlands.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Cahill, Cathleen

Second Committee Member

Truett, Samuel



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