An outpouring of memorial tributes and public expressions of grief followed the death of the Tejana recording artist Selena Quintanilla Pérez in 1995. The Latina superstar was remembered and mourned in documentaries, magazines, websites, monuments, biographies, murals, look-alike contests, musicals, drag shows, and more. Deborah Paredez explores the significance and broader meanings of this posthumous celebration of Selena, which she labels “Selenidad.” She considers the performer’s career and emergence as an icon within the political and cultural transformations in the United States during the 1990s, a decade that witnessed a “Latin explosion” in culture and commerce alongside a resurgence of anti-immigrant discourse and policy.
Paredez argues that Selena’s death galvanized Latina/o efforts to publicly mourn collective tragedies (such as the murders of young women along the U.S.-Mexico border) and to envision a brighter future. At the same time, reactions to the star’s death catalyzed political jockeying for the Latino vote and corporate attempts to corner the Latino market. Foregrounding the role of performance in the politics of remembering, Paredez unravels the cultural, political, and economic dynamics at work in specific commemorations of Selena. She analyzes Selena’s final concert, the controversy surrounding the memorial erected in the star’s hometown of Corpus Christi, and the political climate that served as the backdrop to the touring musicals Selena Forever and Selena: A Musical Celebration of Life. Paredez considers what “becoming” Selena meant to the young Latinas who auditioned for the biopic Selena, released in 1997, and she surveys a range of Latina/o queer engagements with Selena, including Latina lesbian readings of the star’s death scene and queer Selena drag. Selenidad is a provocative exploration of how commemorations of Selena reflected and changed Latinidad.
In Semiotics of Peasants in Transition Irene Portis-Winner examines the complexities of ethnic identity in a traditional Slovene village with unique ties to an American city. At once an investigation into a particular anthropological situation and a theoretical exploration of the semiotics of ethnic culture—in this case a culture permeated by transnational influences—Semiotics of Peasants in Transition describes the complex relationships that have existed between and among the villagers remaining in Slovenia and those who, throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio. Describing a process of continuous and enduring interaction between these geographically separate communities, Portis-Winner explains how, for instance, financial assistance from the emigrants enabled their Slovenian hometown to survive the economic depressions of the 1890s and 1930s. She also analyzes the extent to which memories, rituals, myths, and traditional activities from Slovenia have sustained their Cleveland relatives. The result is a unique anthropological investigation into the signifying practices of a strongly cohesive—yet geographically split—ethnic group, as well as an illuminating application of semiotic analyses to communities and the complex problems they face.
In Shaming into Brown: Somatic Transactions of Race in Latina/o Literature, Stephanie Fetta asserts that our bodies are fundamental to how we live and how we make meaning. Anchored by two psychoanalytic theories, bioenergetic analysis developed by Alexander Lowen and affect theory put forth by Silvan Tomkins, Fetta examines Latinx fiction to draw attention to the cultural role of the intelligent, emotional, and communicative body—the soma—in relation to shame. She argues that we bring the soma—the physical, emotive, and social register of our subjectivity—to the text as we do to our lives,proposing that the power of racialization operates at the level of somatic expression and reception through habituated, socially cued behaviors that are not readily subject to intentional control.
Fetta examines shame beyond individual experiences, looking at literary renderings of the cultural practice of racial shaming that are deeply embedded into our laws, hiring practices, marketing strategies, and more. Grounding her analysis in the works of Gloria Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga, Shaming into Brown focuses on exposing the underpinnings of racialized shame and does so through analyzing “scenes of racialization” in prominent works by authors such as Junot Díaz, Sandra Cisneros, and Oscar Zeta Acosta.
During the patron saint fiesta in the Andean town of San Jerónimo, Peru, crowds gather at sunset in the town square, eagerly awaiting the entrance of the colorful dance troupes, or comparsas. With their masks, music, and surprising interpretations of contemporary events, the comparsas of the Cusco region are the focus of this multifaceted work. At the crossroads of folklore and ritual, mass media and local preferences, and regional and national identity, the comparsas—recorded here on VHS, DVD, and compact disc—have become a powerful way for the local people to make sense of their place in Peru and in the world. As Zoila Mendoza shows, they do more than reflect societal changes, they actively transform society.
In this fluid world, she argues, racial and ethnic identities are shaped more by notions of what is decent, elegant, and modern rather than by skin color or status. As the different troupes vie for the townspeople's recognition as the most "authentic" group, these notions are challenged and reworked. A fascinating look at a rich tradition, this innovative work is also a compelling example of the critical anthropology of performance.
Global identity politics rest heavily on notions of ethnicity and authenticity, especially in contexts where indigenous identity becomes a basis for claims of social and economic justice. In contemporary Latin America there is a resurgence of indigenous claims for cultural and political autonomy and for the benefits of economic development. Yet these identities have often been taken for granted.
In this historical ethnography, Baron Pineda traces the history of the port town of Bilwi, now known officially as Puerto Cabezas, on the Atlantic coast of Nicaragua to explore the development, transformation, and function of racial categories in this region. From the English colonial period, through the Sandinista conflict of the 1980s, to the aftermath of the Contra War, Pineda shows how powerful outsiders, as well as Nicaraguans, have made efforts to influence notions about African and Black identity among the Miskito Indians, Afro-Nicaraguan Creoles, and Mestizos in the region. In the process, he provides insight into the causes and meaning of social movements and political turmoil. Shipwrecked Identities also includes important critical analysis of the role of anthropologists and other North American scholars in the Contra-Sandinista conflict, as well as the ways these scholars have defined ethnic identities in Latin America.
As the indigenous people of the Mosquito Coast continue to negotiate the effects of a long history of contested ethnic and racial identity, this book takes an important step in questioning the origins, legitimacy, and consequences of such claims.
Singing for the Dead chronicles ethnic revival in Oaxaca, Mexico, where new forms of singing and writing in the local Mazatec indigenous language are producing powerful, transformative political effects. Paja Faudree argues for the inclusion of singing as a necessary component in the polarized debates about indigenous orality and literacy, and she considers how the coupling of literacy and song has allowed people from the region to create texts of enduring social resonance. She examines how local young people are learning to read and write in Mazatec as a result of the region's new Day of the Dead song contest. Faudree also studies how tourist interest in local psychedelic mushrooms has led to their commodification, producing both opportunities and challenges for songwriters and others who represent Mazatec culture. She situates these revival movements within the contexts of Mexico and Latin America, as well as the broad, hemisphere-wide movement to create indigenous literatures. Singing for the Dead provides a new way to think about the politics of ethnicity, the success of social movements, and the limits of national belonging.
Rising above the countryside of Wood County, Wisconsin, Powers Bluff is a large outcrop of quartzite rock that resisted the glaciers that flattened the surrounding countryside. It is an appropriate symbol for the Native people who once lived on its slopes, quietly resisting social forces that would have crushed and eroded their culture. A large band of Potawatomi, many returnees from the Kansas Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation, established the village of Tah-qua-kik or Skunk Hill in 1905 on the 300-foot-high bluff, up against the oddly shaped rocks that topped the hill and protected the community from the cold winter winds.
In Skunk Hill, archeologist Robert A. Birmingham traces the largely unknown story of this community, detailing the role it played in preserving Native culture through a harsh period of US Indian policy from the 1880s to 1930s. The story’s central focus is the Drum Dance, also known as the Dream Dance or Big Drum, a pan-tribal cultural revitalization movement that swept the Upper Midwest during the Great Suppression, emphasizing Native values and rejecting the vices of the white world. Though the community disbanded by the 1930s, the site, now on the National Register of Historic
Places with two dance circles still visible on the grounds, stands as testimony to the efforts of its members to resist cultural assimilation.
Translated by Cameron Watson and William A. Douglass. Foreword by William A. Douglass. The Basque people have preserved their ethnic identity and sense of themselves as a separate community despite centuries of repression, diaspora, and economic and social upheaval—one of the most remarkable achievements in the history of the phenomenon we call nationalism. In The Social Roots of Basque Nationalism, sociologist Alfonso Pérez-Agote addresses the social mechanisms that Basques employed to sustain their ethnic identity under the Franco Regime and demonstrates how persecution actually encouraged the extension of Basque nationalist consciousness. He also reveals how state political pressure radicalized one element of the Basque-nationalist movement, resulting in the formation of ETA, an armed terrorist wing that itself became a mechanism for extending nationalist consciousness. Finally, he examines the subsequent changes in Basque nationalism following Franco’s death and the extension of democracy in Spain, which resulted in the institutionalization of the movement into an autonomous political power. This work is based in part on interviews and polls with informants in the Basque Country and abroad, eliciting such data as the role that family, education, social contacts, and religious environment play in the evolution of political attitudes; the place of violence in the Basque world view and contemporary political culture; regional variations in Basque nationalism; and the factors that contributed to the resilience of Basque nationalism in adapting to new historical conditions. The result is a sophisticated discussion of the various ways in which Basque social reality is constituted and how this reality helps to create political culture. Because Pérez-Agote situates his discussion within the broader frameworks of ethnic identity, group dynamics, and the nature of nationalism, the book makes a significant contribution not only to our understanding of the Basques but to the broader study of the evolution of nationalism and the nation-state, political violence, and the complicated transition of any society from dictatorship to democracy.
All communities are teeming with energy, spirit, and knowledge, and Spiral to the Stars taps into and activates this dynamism to discuss Indigenous community planning from a Mvskoke perspective. This book poses questions about what community is, how to reclaim community, and how to embark on the process of envisioning what and where the community can be.
Geographer Laura Harjo demonstrates that Mvskoke communities have what they need to dream, imagine, speculate, and activate the wishes of ancestors, contemporary kin, and future relatives—all in a present temporality—which is Indigenous futurity.
Organized around four methodologies—radical sovereignty, community knowledge, collective power, and emergence geographies—Spiral to the Stars provides a path that departs from traditional community-making strategies, which are often extensions of the settler state. Readers are provided a set of methodologies to build genuine community relationships, knowledge, power, and spaces for themselves. Communities don’t have to wait on experts because this book helps them activate their own possibilities and expertise. A detailed final chapter provides participatory tools that can be used in workshop settings or one on one.
This book offers a critical and concrete map for community making that leverages Indigenous way-finding tools. Mvskoke narratives thread throughout the text, vividly demonstrating that theories come from lived and felt experiences. This is a must-have book for community organizers, radical pedagogists, and anyone wishing to empower and advocate for their community.
A philosophical anthropology of everyday experience, this book is also a deeply informed and thought-provoking reflection on the work of cultural critique. States of Exception looks into a community of immigrants from India living in southern New Jersey—a group to whom the author, as a daughter of two of its members, enjoyed unprecedented access.
Her position allows Keya Ganguly to approach the culture of a middle-class group (albeit one that is marginalized by racial prejudice), while the group’s relatively comfortable and protected style of life offers unusual insight into the concept of the everyday and the sense in which a seemingly commonplace existence can be understood as in crisis: a state of exception. Thus, Ganguly draws on the work of the Frankfurt School, particularly Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, to explore the possibilities of a dialectical critique of the everyday—a state of exception informing ordinary yet crisis-ridden narratives of the self under late capitalism.
Despite their twin positions as two of North America’s most iconic Italian neighborhoods, South Philly and Toronto’s Little Italy have functioned in dramatically different ways since World War II. Inviting readers into the churches, homes, and businesses at the heart of these communities, Staying Italian reveals that daily experience in each enclave created two distinct, yet still Italian, ethnicities.
As Philadelphia struggled with deindustrialization, Jordan Stanger-Ross shows, Italian ethnicity in South Philly remained closely linked with preserving turf and marking boundaries. Toronto’s thriving Little Italy, on the other hand, drew Italians together from across the wider region. These distinctive ethnic enclaves, Stanger-Ross argues, were shaped by each city’s response to suburbanization, segregation, and economic restructuring. By situating malleable ethnic bonds in the context of political economy and racial dynamics, he offers a fresh perspective on the potential of local environments to shape individual identities and social experience.
Subject to Colonialism provides a much needed revisionist perspective on the way twentieth-century Africa is viewed and analyzed among scholars. Employing literary, historical, and anthropological techniques, Gaurav Desai attempts to generate a new understanding of issues that permeate discussions of Africa by disrupting the centrality of postcolonial texts and focusing instead on the cultural and intellectual production of colonial Africans. In particular, Desai calls for a reevaluation of the “colonial library”—that set of representations and texts that have collectively “invented” Africa as a locus of difference and alterity. Presenting colonialism not as a singular, monolithic structure but rather as a practice frought with contradictions and tensions, Desai works to historicize the foundation of postcolonialism by decentering both canonical texts and privileged categories of analysis such as race, capitalism, empire, and nation. To achieve this, he focuses on texts that construct or reform—rather than merely reflect—colonialism, placing explicit emphasis on processes, performances, and the practices of everyday life. Reading these texts not merely for the content of their assertions but also for how they were created and received, Desai looks at works such as Jomo Kenyatta’s ethnography of the Gikuyu and Akiga Sai’s history of the Tiv and makes a particular plea for the canonical recuperation of African women’s writing. Scholars in African history, literature, and philosophy, postcolonial studies, literary criticism, and anthropology will welcome publication of this book.
Kiswahili has become the lingua franca of eastern Africa. Yet there can be few historic peoples whose identity is as elusive as that of the Swahili. Some have described themselves as Arabs, as Persians or even, in one place, as Portuguese. It is doubtful whether, even today, most of the people about whom this book is written would unhesitatingly and in all contexts accept the name Swahili.
This book was central to the thought and lifework of the late James de Vere Allen. It is his major study of the origin of the Swahili and of their cultural identity. He focuses on how the African element in their cultural patrimony was first modified by Islam and later changed until many Swahili themselves lost sight of it.
They share a language and they share a culture. Their territory stretches from the coast of southern Somalia to the Lamu archipelago in Kenya, to the Rovuma River in modern Mozambique and out into the islands of the Indian Ocean. But they lack a shared historical experience.
James de Vere Allen, in this study of contentious originality, set out to give modern Swahili evidence of their shared history during a period of eight centuries.
A groundbreaking book that seeks to understand dance as labor, Sweating Saris examines dancers not just as aesthetic bodies but as transnational migrant workers and wage earners who negotiate citizenship and gender issues.
Srinivasan merges ethnography, history, critical race theory, performance and post-colonial studies among other disciplines to investigate the embodied experience of Indian dance. The dancers’ sweat stained and soaked saris, the aching limbs are emblematic of global circulations of labor, bodies, capital, and industrial goods. Thus the sweating sari of the dancer stands in for her unrecognized labor.
Srinivasan shifts away from the usual emphasis on Indian women dancers as culture bearers of the Indian nation. She asks us to reframe the movements of late nineteenth century transnational Nautch Indian dancers to the foremother of modern dance Ruth St. Denis in the early twentieth century to contemporary teenage dancers in Southern California, proposing a transformative theory of dance, gendered-labor, and citizenship that is far-reaching.
Swiss in Wisconsin
Frederick Hale Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2007 Library of Congress F590.S9H35 2007 | Dewey Decimal 977.500435
As the Föhn blew the first breaths of spring into the Alps in March 1845, two Swiss men embarked on a circuitous voyage that took them from the impoverished canton of Glarus in eastern Switzerland to the hills of southern Wisconsin. Their mission: to select and purchase a tract of land to which the Swiss government could dispatch part of its excess population. With subscriptions from prospective emigrants totaling about $2,600, Nicholas Dürst and Fridolin Streiff ultimately purchased 1,280 acres of timber and prospective farmland in Green County—land fellow immigrants declared “beautiful beyond expectation,” offering “excellent timber, good soil, fine springs, and a stream filled with fish.” Thus began the colony at New Glarus, Wisconsin, perhaps the most distinctively Swiss settlement in the United States. A mere five years later, Wisconsin boasted 1,224 of the nation’s 13,358 Swiss immigrants.
In this concise introduction to the state’s Swiss settlers, Frederick Hale traces the catalysts for Swiss emigration, their difficult journeys, and their adjustments to life on Wisconsin soil. Updates for this expanded edition include additional historic photographs and the selected writings of John Luchsinger, who settled at the Swiss colony at New Glarus, in 1856.