Private Visions, Public Culture: The Making of the Alamo

Essay Excerpt

Sites such as the Alamo emerge from specific sociohistorical conditions, and uncovering the initial impulses and desires that influence their making is critical for understanding how places of public culture reproduce partial visions of the past. How, then, do we map the coordinates of places of public culture in ways that reveal the social traces of their making? Since these traces are not readily evident - they are repressed and embedded in the politically volatile work of public culture - where and how do we detect the unspoken and unformulated provocations that shape the formation and establishment of collective cultural symbols such as the Alamo?

One response, and the focus of this article, is to examine various forms of cultural practice concerning the Alamo as expressions of the same generalized social formation. More specifically, I examine the writings of Clara Driscoll and Adina De Zavala - a compilation of historical accounts, romantic fiction, and legendry - as a means of detecting the unspoken motivations these women have concerning the significance of the Alamo and its place in turn-of-the-century South Texas. As such, I read Driscoll's and De Zavala's narratives for traces of the social processes and conflicts occurring in Texas, in which the making of the Alamo as a public place is a critical factor. It is no coincidence that during this time of social and economic transformation these two women focus on the Alamo as a means of publicly representing modern-day Texas. Juxtaposing Driscoll's and De Zavala's efforts at cultural preservation alongside their literary writings on the subject allows me to explore how and why their private visions inform their efforts to make the Alamo a public place (99-100).

Flores, Richard. "Private Visions, Public Culture: The Making of the Alamo." Cultural Anthropology 10.1(1995): 99–115.

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