Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2017

Access Restrictions

Access restricted until 08/31/2019

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

American Studies

First Advisor

Rigal, Laura

First Committee Member

Kinsey, Joni

Second Committee Member

Yablon, Nick

Third Committee Member

Adams, Bluford

Fourth Committee Member

Rabinovitz, Lauren


This dissertation analyzes how Anglos in the state of Arizona developed a shared cultural vocabulary of white supremacy during the 1920s and 1930s, which played a fundamental role in modernizing the state, making it attractive for tourists and corporations interested in relocating to the southwestern Sunbelt. Through state historical pageants, western novels, and sportsmen’s magazines, Arizonans used popular culture to both create and demonstrate Anglo supremacy by exhibiting, categorizing, and hierarchizing other racial groups, with “whiteness” as the ordering and controlling agent. In particular, popular culture in Arizona highlighted “Indians”—both the “tragically vanished” Indians of the past and contemporary indigenous groups, who were portrayed as dependent on white uplift—while ignoring or erasing Arizona’s ethnic Mexican populations, past and present. It was through the media of popular culture, I argue, that Anglo Arizonans naturalized state-imposed racial subjugations and displacements.

This culture was fundamentally shaped by the fact that Arizona was a “federal land” state, with approximately 70% of the land under the control of the federal government. Throughout this period, as Arizonans attempted to demonstrate their capacity for self-government, they were frustrated by the reality that most of the state’s land base was not under their own authority. But popular expressions of white supremacy must be seen as a creative response to these circumstances: where state authority was otherwise weak, cultural demonstrations of the state’s ability to discursively order “Indians” and other racialized borderlands populations served as an assertion of local Anglo sovereignty and control.


archaeology, Arizona, pageantry, western


vi, 241 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 231-241).


Copyright © 2017 Tom Collins