The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 360
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
Their studies have strongly reinforced criticism against the old "Ideals
of the Republic" history that once legitimized the subordination of
Tejanos. Among the most strident frontal attacks upon Texas mythmak-
ers is Leticia Garza-Falc6n's Gente Decente: A Borderlands Response to the
Rhetoric of Dominance, a study that questions the sincerity and objectivity
of one of the state's icons, Walter Prescott Webb. Few scholars (and cer-
tainly no Tejano historian) had ever taken Webb to task so directly for
his transgressions. But the revered author was painted as perpetuating
racist stereotypes of Mexicans, demeaning them, and knowingly practic-
ing exclusionary history (as Tejano historians had argued previously, it
was not fatalistic proclivities that explained Mexican American exclu-
sion from the pages of Texas history, but Anglo intent). Webb's history
advanced distortions, Garza-Falc6n argued further, as Tejano fiction
written at the same time the University of Texas professor was in his
prime portrayed Tejanos as many-sided, some of them forceful figures.
Webb's own Mexicans, when included, seemed stock characters com-
pared to his heroic Anglos. Agency, therefore, took on a more nuanced
meaning in the works of recent literary scholars; it involved Texas
Mexicans using fiction (poetry, short stories, and novels) as counter-
narratives and counter-hegemonic responses to stereotypes.4
Tejano history and its allied fields in the social sciences and litera-
ture/art, then, have produced an impressive record of cutting-edge
studies. Tejano history is respected today for its quality, depth, rele-
vance, and utility to mainstream Texas scholarship. As its practitioners
expected, it has successfully integrated itself into parts of the universi-
ty curriculum and into the areas of interest of the Texas State
Historical Association, and is steadily making inroads into both histo-
ry museums and the public school curriculum. Further, the scholar-
ship on Tejano history today outpaces the number of works being
published on Mexican Americans in other states. A collective effort by
Tejano scholars produced in 1996 the ready reference on Mexican
Americans found in the pages of the New Handbook of Texas. Today,
Tejano history rates among the fastest growing branches of Texas his-
tory; in many cases, entry-level scholars find Tejano themes more
appealing than such older topics as the Texas Rangers, Populism, or
Progressivism. Despite equally modest starting points, Tejano history
has made more headway in Texas scholarship than have African
American and women's studies. Moreover, mainstream historians
have generally accepted the basic conclusions and approaches that
constitute Tejano history. Reluctant to publish this history once upon
94 Leticia Garza-Falc6n, Gente Decente" A Borderlands Response to the Rhetoric of Dominance (Austin.
University of Texas Press, 1998).
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/428/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.