A savage song

Racist violence and armed resistance in the early twentieth-century U.S.-Mexico Borderlands

By Margarita Aragon

A savage song


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: eBook
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-2169-1
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Published Date: July 2021
  • BIC Category: Sociology, HISTORY / North America, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / General, Society & social sciences / General, Humanities / Social & cultural history, Society & social sciences / Sociology, Ethnic Studies


This book examines key moments in which collective and state violence invigorated racialized social boundaries around Mexican and African Americans in the United States, and in which they violently contested them. Bringing anti-Mexican violence into a common analytical framework with anti-black violence, A savage song examines several focal points in this oft-ignored history, including the 1915 rebellion of ethnic Mexicans in South Texas, and its brutal repression by the Texas Rangers and the 1917 mutiny of black soldiers of the 24th Infantry Regiment in Houston, Texas, in response to police brutality.

Aragon considers both the continuities and stark contrasts across these different moments: how were racialized constructions of masculinity differently employed? How did African and Mexican American men, including those in uniform, respond to the violence of racism? And how was their resistance, including their claims to manhood and nation, understood by law enforcement, politicians, and the press?

Building on extensive archival research, the book examines how African and Mexican American men have been constructed as 'racial problems', investigating, in particular, their relationship with law enforcement and ideas about black and Mexican criminality.


Introduction: The twentieth century dawns in blood
1 Imagining slaves and sovereigns
2 This land of barbarians
3 The Mexican has a country
4 Without a tremor
5 War to the knife



Margarita Aragon is a Lecturer in Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London

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