Thread of Blood
Colonialism, Revolution, and Gender on Mexico's Northern Frontier
The author demonstrates that a distinct kind of frontier serrano society was generated in Namiquipa between the mid-18th and mid-19th centuries. In exchange for keeping the Apaches at bay, colonists were provided with arms and land grants. At the same time, they developed a gendered sense of ethnic identity that equated honor with land, autonomy, and a kind of masculinity that distinguished the "civilized" colonist from the "barbarous" Indian. While this identity was itself ordered hierarchically between men and women, and between "Hispanic" and "Indian," it also provided serranos with a sense of pride and dignity that was not directly associated with wealth.
After the defeat of the Apaches, and with increased state control during the last decades of the Porfiriato, the serranos on the frontier were transformed from bulwarks of order to victims of progress. The expansion of capitalism and the manipulation of local political office by men no longer accountable to communal norms eroded the legitimacy of both powerholders and the central state. In response, serranos constructed an ideology of history based on past notions of masculine honor and autonomy. This ideology motivated their confrontations with the Mexican state during the 1890s and also served as the force behind their mobilization in the 1910 revolution.
"A study of violence in its social and historical context . . . The examples and evidence that Alonso uses to support her case are so vivid and telling that the book is sure to intrigue both students and scholars of the Mexican Revolution." —The Historian
"She invites us to observe the dance of war, honor, ethnic and gender fury in the Chihuahuan village of Namiquipa. Central to this work is her insightful grasp of the complex series of equations and oppositions involved in developing a specific version of masculinity." —American Historical Review
"A significant contribution to the historical anthropology of northern Mexico. I learned a great deal of history and was enlightened by the anthropological discourse the author brought to its telling." —Journal of American History
"Definitely a signficant contribution...This book should help open up an entire field in the study of honor and gender in popular political cultures and help revise the field of Mexican 'revolutionary studies' in an entirely new direction." —Florencia Mallon, University of Wisconsin