Ethnogenesis signals the birthing of new cultural identities, indicating historical and cultural shifts that make previous kinds of identification less relevant. At its core, the investigation of ethnogenesis reveals the politics of social difference. At the Presidio of San Francisco, Spain’s northernmost colonial military outpost during 1776-1820, colonial settlers transformed their identities, rejecting the race-based Spanish colonial sistema de castas in favor of a shared Californio ethnicity. The case of ethnogenesis at the Presidio of San Francisco, in which colonized people were relocated to serve as colonizers, is typical of frontier colonial settlements across history and throughout the globe. This chapter introduces four core themes that shape this study of ethnogenesis: colonization, material practice, overdetermination, and sexuality. Overall, this study demonstrates that colonial military power was enacted not only through overt acts of military aggression but also through the mundane routines of daily life.
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