American Sociological Association

"We Have in This City Many Good Mexican Citizens": The Race-class Intersection and Racial Boundary Shifting in Late Nineteenth-century San Antonio

Access to public spaces played an important role in constructing and defining racial boundaries in the late nineteenth century. In 1883, San Antonio’s Mexican American elites protested an order permanently barring them from using the dance pavilion in San Pedro Springs Park, resulting in the public censure of the park manager who gave the order and affirmations of Tejano elites’ right to equal access to public spaces. The author analyzes this historical case to show the importance of the race-class intersection, specifically racialized class identities, as a resource in racial boundary shifting: the movement of racial boundaries across people. Public exchanges in the "San Pedro Park incident" either challenged or defended Mexican Americans’ equal access to a white public space by drawing on competing racial narratives about their fitness for middle-class identity. The author argues that analyses of racial boundary shifting must give careful consideration to how social actors use understandings of class to expand or contract racial boundaries. Reproducing class identities that ensure continued economic domination over racial minorities is a central part of maintaining the racial order.


Jewell, J. O.





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