Spring 2025

Race and Religion in the U.S. West/Mexico Borderlands

Listed in: American Studies, as AMST-231  |  History, as HIST-135  |  Latinx and Latin Amer Studies, as LLAS-135  |  Religion, as RELI-135


Lloyd D. Barba (Section 01)


(Offered as REL 135, AMST 231, HIST 135 [US/TR/TS] and LLAS 135) One historian aptly described the U.S. West as “one of the greatest meeting places on the planet." The region is a site of cultural complexity where New Mexican Penitentes maintained a criminalized sacred order, an African American holiness preacher forged the global Pentecostal movement, Native Americans staked out legal definitions and practices of "religion," Asian immigrants built their first Buddhist and Sikh temples in the face of persecution, and dispossessed Dust Bowl migrants (in the spirit of the Joad family in John Steinbeck’s novel the Grapes of Wrath) arrived and imported no-nonsense southern Baptist and Pentecostal sensibilities. Until recently, standard surveys of religious history in North America have devoted minimal attention to the distinctive role of religion in the American West and the region's shifting border, having largely focused rather on religious history in the flow of events westward from Massachusetts’s Puritan establishment. In this historical survey, we examine the contours of religion by taking into account new "sights," "cites," and "sites" of race, class, and gender in order to deconstruct and reconstruct the larger incomplete meta-narrative. First-year students are especially welcome. No prerequisites are necessary. Limited to 20 students. 

2024-25 Spring. Professor Barba. 

How to handle overenrollment: Priority to majors in departments or programs cross-listing the course

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: an emphasis on written work, readings, and discussion.

Course Materials


2023-24: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2025