HIST 3379: A Cultural History of New Mexico


Course Description

This class, taught only at SMU-in-Taos, explores interactions among New Mexico’s dominant ethnic groups over the long course of the region’s history. Those ethnic groups include various native American peoples (principally Pueblos, Navajos, and Apaches), incoming Spanish colonists (from about 1600 onward), the mixed, or mestizo, people who resulted from the blending of native Americans and Spaniards, the Hispanics (descendants of the colonial Spaniards and of the mestizos), then the “anglos” who began arriving in the 1820s, and finally the “chicanos” (descendants mainly of Mexicans who came to New Mexico in the late 1800s and early 1900s).

The course summarizes the history of these groups from the first arrival of humans in the South West, and traces their adaptations to the challenging geographical and climatic conditions of the region. Its greater emphasis, through readings, in-class activities, and visits to museums, churches, and secular buildings in Taos, Santa Fe and elsewhere, is on such varied cultural topics as religion (native, introduced Catholicism, and the fusion of the two); regional arts, artifacts, and architecture (native American, Spanish colonial, and later); biological blending and its outcomes in changes in living practices and behaviors; agriculture and food; and the 20th century emergence of New Mexico as a tourist destination and an arts cultural center.

Instructor Biography

Anne Allbright holds an M.A. in Museum Studies and an M.A. in History, and is currently finishing her Ph.D. in History at SMU. Her dissertation focuses on the Southwest, with a great deal of emphasis on New Mexico, and she has taught courses such as Defining the Southwest, Native American History, Patrons and Collectors, and Imagining America. She regularly present papers at national and regional conferences regarding Western cultural history as it relates to art, and she is currently publishing an article for a catalogue with the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. A native to Oklahoma, she worked at a Native American cultural center for several years as a curator, and her work took her to New Mexico for research and to interact with various Native artisans as she prepared exhibits for the general public.

Learning Outcomes and Benefits

Students will benefit from taking this course because they will be able to:

  • Identify the types of interactions and influences that arise between or among individual, social, cultural, political, or economic experiences.
  • Summarize basic empirical phenomena in the study of individual, social, cultural, political, or economic experiences.
  • Develop their analytical skills.
  • Analyze both secondary and primary historical evidence and make informed opinions about historical figures, events and ideas by looking at history through various historical lenses.
  • Identify how New Mexico has been a borderland of global importance regarding Spanish colonialism, Mexican independence and colonialism, and during American imperialism and conquest over local indigenous people, which are now considered Tribal Nations within the larger territory of the United States.
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