Inventing Matamoras Gender and the Forgotten Islamic Past in the United States of America d. a. spellberg Today, if you drive north on U.S. Highway 84 through Pennsylvania, just before you cross the Delaware River into New York State, a sign for the town of Matamoras appears. When I first saw the name one summer en route from Texas, I assumed with surprise that people in Pennsylvania must have had some direct connection to Santiago, the patron saint of the Spanish Reconquest since his miraculous military intervention in driving the Muslims from Spain had earned him the honorific Matamoros, or Killer of Muslims. Yet, I found it puzzling that the Pennsylvania town spelled the reference to this saint with a feminine ending, a gendered alteration that does not exist in the Spanish-speaking world. Matamoras with an "a" seemed to embody a new saint, whose name as placed in Pennsylvania now meant Killer of Muslim Women. The forgotten Islamic past in the United States had, seemingly, been living under an assumed, invented name. Inventing Matamoras happened repeatedly in the nineteenth century in the United States. Between 1846 and 1849, four towns, as well as schools, churches, and one post
Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies – University of Nebraska Press
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