California Mission Landscapes: Race, Memory, and the Politics of Heritage
University of Minnesota Press, 2016.
The winner of the 2018 Abbott Lowell Cummings Award for the publication that has made the most significant contribution to the study of vernacular architecture and cultural landscapes is Elizabeth Kryder-Reid, author of California Mission Landscapes: Race, Memory, and the Politics of Heritage. Although they have long been the focus of romantic conceptions of California life before the U.S. conquest, California’s missions are among the least known of American historic sites. Kryder-Reid begins by evoking that nostalgic vision of mission life, but quickly introduces us to the brutality of that life for indigenous Californians. Through an astute examination of physical remains, spatial practices, visual images, documentary sources, and even contemporary art works, she depicts the missions as complexes of living and working, as well as religious, spaces. Kryder-Reid then deftly demonstrates the process by which these landscapes of colonialism and conversion were transformed in the memories of Anglo Californians in a land of indolent leisure, a vision that has only recently been challenged by descendants of indigenous Californians and Latino Californios.