Document Type

Honors Project


1769, Spanish Franciscan Junípero Serra initiated the missionization of Alta California. To transform California into a Spanish territory, Franciscan missions evangelized indigenous peoples. While traditional Alta California mission histories emphasize either Franciscan abuses or saintliness, reifying Native American subordination, most contemporary scholarship accentuates mutual hybridization but minimizes colonial power dynamics. Through archival and secondary research, this thesis argues that spatial interplay expressed neither syncretization nor unadulterated domination, but instead competing agencies within a physical and social “contact zone.” In this Alta Californian “contact zone,” material and sonic culture reinforced the continuous struggle for authority in the missions.



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