Classicization in U.S. heritage narratives often involves the imposition of classical elements, derived from Greek and Roman civilization, onto narratives of colonial conquest in Southwestern borderlands and frontier spaces. Ongoing controversies surrounding statues of the conquistador, Juan de Oñate, reflect the ways in which the classical legacy remains prominent in public spheres of historical narrative. In providing a visual narrative of conquest linked to classical imagery, the Spanish history of the settling of the Southwest becomes implicated in broader U.S. historical narratives that valorize conquest as a civilizing force in the settling of the American West. While much of this classical imagery first appeared in Spanish sources, this paper traces specifically how these classicized narratives of Spanish conquest became appropriated and implicated in Anglo-American/U.S. historical narratives, as well as counter-narratives of Indigenous resistance.
Kendall Lovely, a member of the Navajo Nation, is from Albuquerque, NM. She holds a double-major B.A. from the University of New Mexico in Comparative Literature & Cultural Studies and Anthropology, an M.A. in Comparative Humanities from Brandeis University, and a second M.A. in Museum Studies from UNM. Her recent thesis in Museum Studies explored Classical influence within early anthropology and museum discourses. Her examinations revealed how these models helped to construct colonial representations of gender, especially in Southwest ethnology. As a Ph.D. student in Public History at the University of California Santa Barbara, she continues these research inquiries toward decolonizing museum practices and the public interpretation of history in museum settings.
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