College - Author 1

College of Liberal Arts

Department - Author 1

History Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BA in History



Primary Advisor

Kate Murphy, College of Liberal Arts, History Department


When people look at Los Altos de Jalisco, they typically think of this area as representing a pocket of European ancestry in a mestizaje state. Yet this ignores one huge aspect of this region: its indigenous history. Throughout the last three hundred years, the Los Altos region of Jalisco has allowed for the racial passing of many different families. This is all the more significant because many of its citizens have what many believe to be European features- mainly being light hair, light skin, and colored eyes. Because of these perceived European features, many of the Alteños believe that they are of 100% European ancestry. But by analyzing the baptismal and matrimonial records for my own family, I argue that liberal interpretations of the caste system in the Los Altos de Jalisco region have facilitated frequent racial passing. As a consequence, the Los Altos region allowed for the re-defining of racial terms. Specifically, for the case of the caste “Spanish”, in which significant indigenous ancestry had slipped through into this racial category due to racial passing. This meant that to be Spanish in the Los Altos region is synonymous with having significant indigenous ancestry. Within this concept of racial passing in the Los Altos region, I will also argue that race is not necessarily based on skin color or genealogy, but rather on socio-economics. Due to this fact, many wealthy castizos, harnizos, and mestizos were able to pass as Spanish in the records of the Los Altos region. Further analysis of this area has brought me to argue a conclusion far from what stereotypes present of the Los Altos region: that despite the fact many Alteños present as white, they have significant indigenous ancestry, thus pushing this white periphery of México into the collective mestizaje society.