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“Rousers of the Rabble” in the New Mexico Land Grant War: La Alianza Federal De Mercedes and the Violence of the State

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This paper examines the patterns of state-sponsored and state-tolerated violence directed at a social movement organization in New Mexico known as La Alianza Federal de Mercedes during the 1960s and 1970s. Beginning in the 1960s, Alianza mobilized a broad-based movement of Chicano activists and Hispano land grant communities to advocate the return of lands they claimed had been stolen following the Mexican American War of 1846–1848. As a result, its leaders and many of its members became targets of law enforcement surveillance programs and counterintelligence operations. In this paper I examine the patterns of surveillance and physical violence directed at Alianza members. Confronted by Alianza's challenge to racial inequality and economic injustice, the state construed Alianza as a generalized, and racialized, threat to social order that required in response the use of coercive control and physical violence.

Keywords: Alianza Federal de Mercedes; New Mexico; territoriality; the state; violence

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Maine at Farmington, Farmington, ME, USA;, Email:

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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