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Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America
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Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America

3.47 of 5 stars 3.47  ·  rating details  ·  64 ratings  ·  13 reviews
An unprecedented account of the long-term cultural and political influences that Mexican-Americans will have on the collective character of our nation.In considering the largest immigrant group in American history, Gregory Rodriguez examines the complexities of its heritage and of the racial and cultural synthesis--mestizaje--that has defined the Mexican people since the S ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published October 14th 2008 by Vintage (first published October 23rd 2007)
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In Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds, Gregory Rodriguez tackles Mexican/Hispanic/Latino identity formation and politics beginning with 16th century Spanish expansionism and ending in the late 1990s in the U.S. Southwest. Rodriguez carefully lays out the various social hierarchies at play in each era and relates them to the race/ethnicity formation of Mexicans/Mexican Americans.

While this book is filled with history, legal cases, and first person anecdotes, it never felt dry or boring. R
"Historian Charles Gibson labeled the colonial mestizo a 'pragmatic opportunist.' According to anthropologist Eric Wolf, the mestizo's 'chances of survival lay neither in accumulating cultural furniture nor in cleaving to cultural norms, but in an ability to change, to adapt, to improvise. The ever shifting nature of his social condition forced him to move with guile and speed through the hidden passageways of society, not to commit himself to any one position or to any one spot.'" (30)

"Though m
So much information that wasn't taught to me in school. I am this book. I have every race and hue and color in my family. I never fit in any one race or class of people. I am a Mongrel, a mutt. And I wouldn't have it any other way. I used to complain in history class that all I was learning was about eurocavemen history and I got sent to the office and expelled and all kinds of stuff. So one day they came to me and said well you get your way... so they started teaching me about African history. ...more
John Gurney
Gregory Rodriguez pulls off the arduous task of presenting a trove of data - there are 40 pages of endnotes - and history in a highly readable way. Making the task more challenging is the very nature of "race" for Mexican-Americans. Hernan Cortez and his fellow conquistadores didn't bring wives; this book is the most detailed I've read in terms of a frank discussion of the cohabitation and intermarriage that between Spaniards and indigenous Amerindians, as well as the small number of other Europ ...more
May 01, 2008 Brenda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in learning about the legacy of Mexican-Americans
This book provides great historical background on a subject that is not very often written about, which is that of people of Mexican background in the United States and the part they played in American society. Rodriguez argues those of Mexican background cannot be easily defined as having set racial or ethnic characteristics because racial heritage varies so much within the Hispanic population and because the level of assimilation into American culture varies depending on economic class and the ...more
This is an excellent history, but I think the subtitle about the "Future of Race in America" is a bit of a misnomer. The last fifth or sixth of the book contemplates the impact current and projected Mexican immigration will have on America's racialist binary, but the real meat is a finely rendered accounting of the development of Mexican racial identity from Cortes until the present, and also in Mexico's farthest colonial reaches (Alta California, Nuevo Mexico, Tejas, i.e., future Aztlanian prov ...more
José-antonio Orosco
Rodriguez gives a nice short introduction to the way racial categories have been utilized differently in Latin America as opposed to the "one-drop" rule in the United States that leads to a strictly black-white dynamic. He shows how Mexicans and Mexican Americans have never really fit into that dynamic and the twists and turns that that American legal system has had to go through to encompass them reveals the irrationality of the American racial caste system.
As someone of Mexican-American descent who thought I knew a lot about my heritage, this work opened me eyes. Sadly, it also confirmed some of what I had suspected as the origin of the many serious troubles facing Latinos in the US today, especially those of us whose roots go back a few hundred years. All educated Americans should read this book to consider themselves informed citizens and neighbors.
It was a very informational read and I feel that the author was generally unbiased in his writing, but I also feel that he could've discussed the implications or opened the floor to different possibilities to what the future could hold. It seemed like the book just simply ended, and I personally did not like that. Overall, though, I learned quite a bit.
Wonderfully insightful book about the history of Mexicans and how their immigrant tale into the a harbinger of the future of race. The obsolescence of racial categories is our future.
Provides very interesting information, but the chronology is horrible! Causation is completely lost due to jumping around in time.
Brad Kirk
This book provides some interesting insights on a largely misunderstood topic. Definitely broadened my worldview.
Aug 05, 2008 Abelardodlp is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Have read the preface, will get back to it when I have time.
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