Katherine Massoth

Katherine Massoth, a 2011 History Scholar, will present a lecture titled, "Prickly Pears, Serapes, Pueblos and Tortillas: Women in the New Mexico Territory, 1846-1866," on Friday, June 17. The lecture focuses on how white Americans reacted to the environment, clothing and foodstuffs of New Mexican people between 1846 and 1866. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will be held from 12 to 1 p.m. in the Waters Room 105 of Zimmerman Library.

Through their commentary on the physical environment and outward appearances of Spanish-Mexicans and American Indians, American men and women served as purveyors of American tastes and standards, but women also complicated U.S. colonization as they adapted Spanish-Mexican fashion and food into their daily lives.  Cuisine and couture became areas where daily practices were absorbed and traded between the colonizers and the colonized instead of being merely examples of outright cultural and political conquest.

Massoth's research suggests that the story of U.S. annexation of New Mexico is also the story of a cultural middle ground that American, Spanish-Mexican and American Indian women negotiated on a daily basis.  Control was not always in the hands of the Americans, but instead in the hands of the native New Mexicans who knew the land, its food ways, and the appropriate clothing to wear.  Women played a significant role in initiating genial, welcoming and necessary relationships through recipe swaps and dress pattern sharing.  While they used the language of manifest destiny and racial superiority in their discussions of non-whites, some white women's daily actions spoke otherwise.

Massoth is a Presidential Fellow and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Iowa where she received her M.A. degree in United States History in 2008.  Massoth specializes in the history of gender and race in the American West.

This lecture is cosponsored by the Office of the State Historian and the Center for Southwest Research.

Media contact: Karen Wentworth (505) 277-5627; kwent2@unm.edu