The Charreada in the U.S.: A National Sport in Another Nation

Editor’s Note: This post is the first in a new series featuring abstracts for past and upcoming conference presentations.  Publishing abstracts on this blog enables us to share ongoing research far beyond the boundaries of the conferences at which these presentations are given.  If you find an abstract interesting, we encourage you to contact the author directly (or email our editor at cy************@gm***.com, and we’ll facilitate a connection).  We hope that you will share your abstracts, too!  


The Charreada in the U.S.: A National Sport in Another Nation

Elyssa Ford, Northwest Missouri State University

Like rodeo in America, the Mexican charreada evolved from ranching skills to a more formal competition. Eventually, both became symbols of their countries. The rodeo in the U.S. is seen as truly and deeply American, and the charreada does the same in Mexico, but for many Mexicans, it goes even further.  The event is a competition, but its real importance lies in the history and culture that imbues it and that is performed there. In this way, the charreada is a symbol of unity for Mexican people. It is the national sport and is closely tied to Mexican pride, self-identity, and citizenship. This identity transcends national boundaries as Mexican-Americans continue to see the charreada as a signifier of culture, heritage, and identity. Rather than participate in the American rodeo, Mexican American riders, especially recent immigrants, continue to ride in the charreada as a way to maintain their connection to Mexico.


This is an abstract that I have worked up and is tied to a chapter in my book manuscript, but I have not yet presented just this focus at a conference.  While this abstract does not specifically mention the rural, the charreada clearly is that because it is tied to rural, ranching roots and is undertaken by people with rural roots.  This is an especially interesting area for future study because the Mexican-American participants in the U.S. generally do not live in rural areas but in urban or urban-adjacent areas.  Likewise, this abstract does not mention the role of women in the charreada, but they find their own and often separate importance and meaning from the charreada than the men involved, but that is a discussion for another post!

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