American Studies and History

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Inventing the Fiesta City: Heritage and Carnival in San Antonio

Laura Hernández-Ehrisman

Fiesta San Antonio began in 1891 and through the twentieth century expanded from a single parade to over two hundred events spanning a ten-day period. Laura Hernández-Ehrisman examines Fiesta's development as part of San Antonio's culture of power relations between men and women, Anglos and Mexicanos.

In some ways Fiesta resembles hundreds of urban celebrations across the country, but San Antonio offers a unique fusion of Southern, Western, and Mexican cultures that articulates a distinct community identity. From its beginning as a celebration of a new social order in San Antonio controlled by a German and Anglo elite to the citywide spectacle of today, Hernández-Ehrisman traces the connections between Fiesta and the construction of the city's tourist industry and social change in San Antonio.


Laura Hernández-Ehrisman is an assistant professor at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.


“ excellent, concise analysis of this ever-changing festival.”


Journal of American History

"...a solid contribution to the historical literature on heritage tourism, public memory, and historical commemoration in the American West....It will be essential reading for scholars interested in regional comparisons of tourism and economic development in the United States."


American Historical Review

"A vivid narrator and close observer of the passing scene...(Hernández-Ehrisman) has written a compelling analysis of a white-dominated community in the throes of massive social change."


New Mexico Historical Review

" Inventing the Fiesta City is an authoritative work on the history of San Antonio's Fiesta. The book will enrich the reader's understanding of Fiesta in the context of other cultural celebrations, such as New Orleans' Carnival, and of San Antonio as a city, the culture of which emerges from the rich diversity of its celebrations."


Texas Books in Review

"Hernández-Ehrisman dissects her...subject thoroughly and objectively, yielding a balanced, perceptive study that will stand as a definitive treatment for many years to come."


Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"...well researched...provides a thorough examination of one of the South's most famous civic celebrations."


Journal of Southern History

"Hernández-Ehrisman skillfully examines the role of San Antonio's social and political, gendered, and racial relations.... Inventing the Fiesta City makes an important contribution to our understanding of how San Antonio's development fits within the narrative of the U.S. and how the various local communities responded to how they saw themselves as part of San Antonio's past."


Western Historical Quarterly

Published in association with the William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, Southern Methodist University

6 x 9 in. 248 pages 16 halftones