front cover of Abecedario de Juárez
Abecedario de Juárez
An Illustrated Lexicon
Julián Cardona and Alice Leora Briggs, with translations by Alice L. Driver; illustrations by Alice Leora Briggs
University of Texas Press, 2022
Southwest Book Awards, Border Regional Library Association (BRLA)

Uses key words and striking images to explore violence and everyday life in Juárez, Mexico.


Juárez, Mexico, is known for violence. The femicides of the 1990s, and the cartel mayhem that followed, made it one of the world's most dangerous cities. Along with the violence came a new lexicon that traveled from person to person, across rivers and borders—wherever it was needed to explain the horrors taking place. From personal interviews, media accounts, and conversations on the street, Julián Cardona and Alice Leora Briggs have collected the words and slang that make up the brutal language of Juárez, creating a glossary that serves as a linguistic portrait of the city and its violence. Organized alphabetically, the entries consist of Spanish and Spanglish, accompanied by short English definitions. Some also feature a longer narrative drawn from interviews—stories that put the terms in context and provide a personal counterpoint to media reports of the same events. Letters, and many of the entries, are supplemented with Briggs’s evocative illustrations, which are reminiscent of Hans Holbein’s famous Alphabet of Death. Together, the words, drawings, and descriptions in ABCedario de Juárez both document and interpret the everyday violence of this vital border city.
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Accessible Citizenships
Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico
Julie Avril Minich
Temple University Press, 2013
Accessible Citizenships examines Chicana/o cultural representations that conceptualize political community through images of disability. Working against the assumption that disability is a metaphor for social decay or political crisis, Julie Avril Minich analyzes literature, film, and visual art post-1980 in which representations of non-normative bodies work to expand our understanding of what it means to belong to a political community.
 
Minich shows how queer writers like Arturo Islas and Cherríe Moraga have reconceptualized Chicano nationalism through disability images. She further addresses how the U.S.-Mexico border and disabled bodies restrict freedom and movement. Finally, she confronts the changing role of the nation-state in the face of neoliberalism as depicted in novels by Ana Castillo and Cecile Pineda. 
 
Accessible Citizenships illustrates how these works gesture towards less exclusionary forms of citizenship and nationalism. Minich boldly argues that the corporeal images used to depict national belonging have important consequences for how the rights and benefits of citizenship are understood and distributed.

A volume in the American Literatures Initiative
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Adjusting the Lens
Community and Collaborative Video in Mexico
Freya Schiwy
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017
Adjusting the Lens offers a detailed analysis of contemporary, independent, indigenous-language audiovisual production in Mexico and in Mexican migrant communities in the United States. The contributors relate the styles and forms of collaborative and community media production to socially critical, transformative, resistant, and constitutive processes off-screen, thereby exploring the political within the context of the media. The chapters show how diasporic media makers map novel interpretations of image and sound into existing audiovisual discourses to communicate social and cultural changes within their communities that counter stereotypical representations in commercial television and cinema, and contribute to a newfound communal identity. The new media expose the conflict of social movements and/or indigenous and rural communities with the state, challenge Eurocentrism and globalization, and reveal the power of audiovisual production to affect political change.
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Adoring the Saints
Fiestas in Central Mexico
By Yolanda Lastra, Dina Sherzer, and Joel Sherzer
University of Texas Press, 2009

Mexico is famous for spectacular fiestas that embody its heart and soul. An expression of the cult of the saint, patron saint fiestas are the centerpiece of Mexican popular religion and of great importance to the lives and cultures of people and communities. These fiestas have their own language, objects, belief systems, and practices. They link Mexico's past and present, its indigenous and European populations, and its local and global relations.

This work provides a comprehensive study of two intimately linked patron saint fiestas in the state of Guanajuato, near San Miguel de Allende—the fiesta of the village of Cruz del Palmar and that of the town of San Luis de la Paz. These two fiestas are related to one another in very special ways involving both religious practices and their respective pre-Hispanic origins.

A mixture of secular and sacred, patron saint fiestas are multi-day affairs that include many events, ritual specialists, and performers, with the participation of the entire community. Fiestas take place in order to honor the saints, and they are the occasion for religious ceremonies, processions, musical performances, dances, and dance dramas. They feature spectacular costumes, enormous puppets, masked and cross-dressed individuals, dazzling fireworks, rodeos, food stands, competitions, and public dances. By encompassing all of these events and performances, this work displays the essence of Mexico, a lens through which this country's complex history, religion, ethnic mix, traditions, and magic can be viewed.

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The Adorned Body
Mapping Ancient Maya Dress
Edited by Nicholas Carter, Stephen D. Houston, and Franco D. Rossi
University of Texas Press, 2020

How we dress our bodies—through clothing, footwear, headgear, jewelry, haircuts, and more—is key to the expression of status and identity. This idea was as true for ancient Maya civilization as it is today, yet few studies have centered on what ancient Maya peoples wore and why. In The Adorned Body, Nicholas Carter, Stephen Houston, and Franco Rossi bring together contributions from a wide range of scholars, leading to the first in-depth study of Maya dress in pre-Columbian times.

Incorporating artistic, hieroglyphic, and archaeological sources, this book explores the clothing and ornaments of ancient Maya peoples, systematically examining who wore what, deducing the varied purposes and meanings of dress items and larger ensembles, and determining the methods and materials with which such items were created. Each essay investigates a category of dress—including headgear, pendants and necklaces, body painting, footwear, and facial ornaments—and considers the variations within each of these categories, as well as popular styles and trends through time. The final chapters reveal broader views and comparisons about costume ensembles and their social roles. Shedding new light on the art and archaeology of the ancient Americas, The Adorned Body offers a thorough map of Maya dress that will be of interest to scholars and fashion enthusiasts alike.

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The Adventures of Chupacabra Charlie
Frederick Luis Aldama and Chris Escobar
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
In their debut picture book, Frederick Luis Aldama and Chris Escobar invite young readers along on the adventures of Chupacabra Charlie, a polite, handsome, and unusually tall ten-year-old chupacabra yearning for adventure beyond the edge of los Estados Unidos. Little does Charlie know when he befriends a young human, Lupe, that together, with only some leftover bacon quesadillas and a few cans of Jumex, they might just encounter more adventure than they can handle. Along the way, they meet strange people and terrifying danger, and their bravery will be put to the test. Thankfully, Charlie is a reassuring and winsome companion who never doubts that he and Lupe will return safely home. 
With magical realism, allegory, and gentle humor, Aldama and Escobar have created a story that will resonate with young and old readers alike as it incorporates folklore into its subtle take on the current humanitarian crisis at the border.
 
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Afro-Mexico
Dancing between Myth and Reality
By Anita González
University of Texas Press, 2010

While Africans and their descendants have lived in Mexico for centuries, many Afro-Mexicans do not consider themselves to be either black or African. For almost a century, Mexico has promoted an ideal of its citizens as having a combination of indigenous and European ancestry. This obscures the presence of African, Asian, and other populations that have contributed to the growth of the nation. However, performance studies—of dance, music, and theatrical events—reveal the influence of African people and their cultural productions on Mexican society.

In this work, Anita González articulates African ethnicity and artistry within the broader panorama of Mexican culture by featuring dance events that are performed either by Afro-Mexicans or by other ethnic Mexican groups about Afro-Mexicans. She illustrates how dance reflects upon social histories and relationships and documents how residents of some sectors of Mexico construct their histories through performance. Festival dances and, sometimes, professional staged dances point to a continuing negotiation among Native American, Spanish, African, and other ethnic identities within the evolving nation of Mexico. These performances embody the mobile histories of ethnic encounters because each dance includes a spectrum of characters based upon local situations and historical memories.

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After Monte Albán
Transformation and Negotiation in Oaxaca, Mexico
Jeffrey P. Blomster
University Press of Colorado, 2016
After Monte Albán reveals the richness and interregional relevance of Postclassic transformations in the area now known as Oaxaca, which lies between Central Mexico and the Maya area and, as contributors to this volume demonstrate, achieved cultural centrality in pan-Mesoamerican networks. Large nucleated states throughout Oaxaca collapsed after 700 C.E., including the great Zapotec state centered in the Valley of Oaxaca, Monte Albán. Elite culture changed in fundamental ways as small city-states proliferated in Oaxaca, each with a new ruling dynasty required to devise novel strategies of legitimization. The vast majority of the population, though, sustained continuity in lifestyle, religion, and cosmology.

Contributors synthesize these regional transformations and continuities in the lower Rio Verde Valley, the Valley of Oaxaca, and the Mixteca Alta. They provide data from material culture, architecture, codices, ethnohistoric documents, and ceramics, including a revised ceramic chronology from the Late Classic to the end of the Postclassic that will be crucial to future investigations. After Monte Albán establishes Postclassic Oaxaca's central place in the study of Mesoamerican antiquity.

Contributors include Jeffrey P. Blomster, Bruce E. Byland, Gerardo Gutierrez, Byron Ellsworth Hamann, Arthur A. Joyce, Stacie M. King, Michael D. Lind, Robert Markens, Cira Martínez López, Michel R. Oudijk, and Marcus Winter.

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After San Jacinto
The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1836-1841
By Joseph Milton Nance
University of Texas Press, 1963

The stage was set for conflict: The First Congress of the Republic of Texas had arbitrarily designated the Rio Grande as the boundary of the new nation. Yet the historic boundaries of Texas, under Spain and Mexico, had never extended beyond the Nueces River. Mexico, unwilling to acknowledge Texas independence, was even more unwilling to allow this further encroachment upon her territory.

But neither country was in a strong position to substantiate claims; so the conflict developed as a war of futile threats, border raids, and counterraids. Nevertheless, men died—often heroically—and this is the first full story of their bitter struggle. Based on original sources, it is an unbiased account of Texas-Mexican relations in a crucial period.

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The Agrarian Dispute
The Expropriation of American-Owned Rural Land in Postrevolutionary Mexico
John J. Dwyer
Duke University Press, 2008
In the mid-1930s the Mexican government expropriated millions of acres of land from hundreds of U.S. property owners as part of President Lázaro Cárdenas’s land redistribution program. Because no compensation was provided to the Americans a serious crisis, which John J. Dwyer terms “the agrarian dispute,” ensued between the two countries. Dwyer’s nuanced analysis of this conflict at the local, regional, national, and international levels combines social, economic, political, and cultural history. He argues that the agrarian dispute inaugurated a new and improved era in bilateral relations because Mexican officials were able to negotiate a favorable settlement, and the United States, constrained economically and politically by the Great Depression, reacted to the crisis with unaccustomed restraint. Dwyer challenges prevailing arguments that Mexico’s nationalization of the oil industry in 1938 was the first test of Franklin Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor policy by showing that the earlier conflict over land was the watershed event.

Dwyer weaves together elite and subaltern history and highlights the intricate relationship between domestic and international affairs. Through detailed studies of land redistribution in Baja California and Sonora, he demonstrates that peasant agency influenced the local application of Cárdenas’s agrarian reform program, his regional state-building projects, and his relations with the United States. Dwyer draws on a broad array of official, popular, and corporate sources to illuminate the motives of those who contributed to the agrarian dispute, including landless fieldworkers, indigenous groups, small landowners, multinational corporations, labor leaders, state-level officials, federal policymakers, and diplomats. Taking all of them into account, Dwyer explores the circumstances that spurred agrarista mobilization, the rationale behind Cárdenas’s rural policies, the Roosevelt administration’s reaction to the loss of American-owned land, and the diplomatic tactics employed by Mexican officials to resolve the international conflict.

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Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village
Paul Friedrich
University of Chicago Press, 1977
Agrarian Revolt in a Mexican Village deals with a Taráscan Indian village in southwestern Mexico which, between 1920 and 1926, played a precedent-setting role in agrarian reform. As he describes forty years in the history of this small pueblo, Paul Friedrich raises general questions about local politics and agrarian reform that are basic to our understanding of radical change in peasant societies around the world. Of particular interest is his detailed study of the colorful, violent, and psychologically complex leader, Primo Tapia, whose biography bears on the theoretical issues of the "political middleman" and the relation between individual motivation and socioeconomic change. Friedrich's evidence includes massive interviewing, personal letters, observations as an anthropological participant (e.g., in fiesta ritual), analysis of the politics and other village culture during 1955-56, comparison with other Taráscan villages, historical and prehistoric background materials, and research in legal and government agrarian archives.
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Agrarian Revolt in the Sierra of Chihuahua, 1959–1965
Elizabeth Henson
University of Arizona Press, 2019
The early 1960s are remembered for the emergence of new radical movements influenced by the Cuban Revolution. One such protest movement rose in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. With large timber companies moving in on the forested sierra highlands, campesinos and rancheros did not sit by as their lands and livelihoods were threatened. Continuing a long history of agrarian movements and local traditions of armed self-defense, they organized and demanded agrarian rights.

Thousands of students joined the campesino protests in long-distance marches, land invasions, and direct actions that transcended political parties and marked the participants’ emergence as political subjects. The Popular Guerrilla Group (GPG) took shape from sporadic armed conflicts in the sierra. Early victories in the field encouraged the GPG to pursue more ambitious targets, and on September 23, 1965, armed farmers, agricultural workers, students, and teachers attacked an army base in Madera, Chihuahua. This bold move had deadly consequences.

With a sympathetic yet critical eye, historian Elizabeth Henson argues that the assault undermined and divided the movement that had been its crucible, sacrificing the most militant, audacious, and serious of a generation at a time when such sacrifices were more frequently observed. Henson shows how local history merged with national tensions over one-party rule, the unrealized promises of the Mexican Revolution, and international ideologies.
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Agricultural Intensification and Prehistoric Health in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico
Denise C. Hodges
University of Michigan Press, 1989
Author Denise C. Hodges examines the osteological remains from 14 archaeological sites in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico, in an attempt to address the relationship between the intensification of agriculture and the health status of the prehistoric population. Volume 9 of the subseries Prehistory and Human Ecology of the Valley of Oaxaca.
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Álamos, Sonora
Architecture and Urbanism in the Dry Tropics
John Messina
University of Arizona Press, 2008
The town of Álamos in the state of Sonora, Mexico, a one-day drive from the Arizona border, is one of the most intact colonial-era cities in northern Mexico. Álamos has been declared a National Historic Monument by the Mexican government and is one of only fourteen towns to be designated as Pueblos Mágicos. Founded by Spaniards who discovered silver deposits nearby, Álamos was a prosperous city from its inception. It is situated in a “dry tropical” valley where both desert flora and tropical plants intermingle. The propitious combination of wealth, climate, and New World Hispanic town planning principles led to the development of a remarkable architecture and city plan.

Until now, there has never been a book about the architecture and urban form of Álamos. In this much-needed work, John Messina, who teaches architecture and is a practicing architect, provides a well-informed history and interpretive description of the town. He also examines building materials and construction techniques, as well as issues of building preservation and restoration. At the same time, the author considers what other cities might learn from Álamos. Particularly for cities in the American Southwest that are struggling to reduce sprawl and increase density without compromising their quality of life, Álamos offers a range of possible solutions.

Thoroughly illustrated and designed for lay readers and professionals alike, this engaging book captures the essence and the uniqueness of Álamos while asking what lessons can be drawn by architects and planners who are attempting to reshape our own cities and towns into more livable, viable, and people-friendly environments.
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Alcohol in Ancient Mexico
Henry Bruman
University of Utah Press, 2000

Alcohol in Ancient Mexico reconstructs the variety and extent of distillation traditions in the ancient cultures of Mexico, describing in detail the various plants and processes used to make such beverages, their prevalence, and their significance for local culture.

The art of distillation arrived in Mexico with the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. However, well before that time, native skills and available resources had contributed to a well-developed tradition of intoxicating beverages, many of which are still produced and consumed.

In the 1930’s Henry Bruman visited various Mexican and Central American Indian tribes to reconstruct the variety and extent of these ancient traditions. He discerned five distinct areas defined by the culturally most significant beverages, all superimposed over the great mescal wine region. Within these five areas he noted wine made from cactus, cactus fruit, cornstalks, and mesquite pods; beer from sprouted maize; and fermented sap from pulque agaves.

Outside the mescal region he observed widespread consumption in the Yucatan of a wine made from fermented honey and balché bark, plus lesser-known beverages in other regions. He also observed the frequent inclusion in the fermentation process of alkaloid-bearing ingredients such as peyote and tobacco, plants whose roots or bark contain saponins—which act as cardiac poisons—and even poisons from certain toads.

Alcohol in Ancient Mexico also considers the relative absence of alcoholic drink in the southwestern United States, the introduction of sills following the Spanish conquest, and possible sources for the introduction of coconut wine.

Previously unpublished, the research presented here retains its relevance today, and the photographs offer a fascinating glimpse at a traditional world that has now almost vanished.

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Alejandro González Iñárritu
Celestino Deleyto and Maria del Mar Azcona
University of Illinois Press, 2010
This in-depth study of Mexican film director Alejandro González Iñárritu explores his role in moving Mexican filmmaking from a traditional nationalist agenda towards a more global focus. Working in the United States and in Mexico, Iñárritu crosses national borders while his movies break the barriers of distribution, production, narration, and style. His features also experiment with transnational identity as characters emigrate and settings change.
 
In studying the international scope of Iñárritu's influential films Amores Perros, 21 Grams, and Babel, Celestino Deleyto and María del Mar Azcona trace common themes such as human suffering and redemption, chance, and accidental encounters. The authors also analyze the director's powerful visual style and his consistent use of multiple characters and a fragmented narrative structure. The book concludes with a new interview with Iñárritu that touches on the themes and subject matter of his chief works.
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All Religions Are Good in Tzintzuntzan
Evangelicals in Catholic Mexico
By Peter S. Cahn
University of Texas Press, 2003

Since the 1960s, evangelical Christian denominations have made converts throughout much of Roman Catholic Latin America, causing clashes of faith that sometimes escalate to violence. Yet in one Mexican town, Tzintzuntzan, the appearance of new churches has provoked only harmony. Catholics and evangelicals alike profess that "all religions are good," a sentiment not far removed from "here we are all equal," which was commonly spoken in the community before evangelicals arrived.

In this paradigm-challenging study, Peter Cahn investigates why the coming of evangelical churches to Tzintzuntzan has produced neither the interfaith clashes nor the economic prosperity that evangelical conversion has brought to other communities in Mexico and Latin America. Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, he demonstrates that the evangelicals' energetic brand of faith has not erupted into violence because converts continue to participate in communal life, while Catholics, in turn, participate in evangelical practices. He also underscores how Tzintzuntzan's integration into global economic networks strongly motivates the preservation of community identity and encourages this mutual borrowing. At the same time, however, Cahn concludes that the suppression of religious difference undermines the revolutionary potential of religion.

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Almost an Island
Travels in Baja California
Bruce Berger
University of Arizona Press, 1998
Long frequented by pirates and haunted by pariahs, Baja California has become a favorite destination for whale watchers, hikers, and scuba divers. For Bruce Berger it has been more. In Almost an Island, he takes readers beyond the Baja of guidebooks and offers a wildly entertaining look at the real Baja California.

Eight hundred miles long, Baja California is the remotest region of the Sonoran desert, a land of volcanic cliffs, glistening beaches, fantastical boojum trees, and some of the greatest primitive murals in the Western Hemisphere. In Almost an Island, Berger recounts tales from his three decades in this extraordinary place, enriching his account with the peninsula's history, its politics, and its probable future—rendering a striking panorama of this land so close to the United States, so famous, and so little known.

Readers will meet a cast of characters as eccentric as the place itself: Brandy, who ranges the desert in a sand buggy while breathing from an oxygen tank; Katie, the chanteuse; nuns illegally raising pigs. They will encounter the tourist madness of a total eclipse, the story of the heir to an oasis, a musical Mata Hari, rare pronghorn antelope, and a pet tarantula. In prose as glittering as this desert engulfed by the sea, Almost an Island is a fascinating journey into the human heart of a spectacular land.
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Alone Before God
The Religious Origins of Modernity in Mexico
Pamela Voekel
Duke University Press, 2002
Focusing on cemetery burials in late-eighteenth-century Mexico, Alone Before God provides a window onto the contested origins of modernity in Mexico. By investigating the religious and political debates surrounding the initiative to transfer the burials of prominent citizens from urban to suburban cemeteries, Pamela Voekel challenges the characterization of Catholicism in Mexico as an intractable and monolithic institution that had to be forcibly dragged into the modern world.
Drawing on the archival research of wills, public documents, and other texts from late-colonial and early-republican Mexico, Voekel describes the marked scaling-down of the pomp and display that had characterized baroque Catholic burials and the various devices through which citizens sought to safeguard their souls in the afterlife. In lieu of these baroque practices, the new enlightened Catholics, claims Voekel, expressed a spiritually and hygienically motivated preference for extremely simple burial ceremonies, for burial outside the confines of the church building, and for leaving their earthly goods to charity. Claiming that these changes mirrored a larger shift from an external, corporate Catholicism to a more interior piety, she demonstrates how this new form of Catholicism helped to initiate a cultural and epistemic shift that placed the individual at the center of knowledge.
Breaking with the traditional historiography to argue that Mexican liberalism had deeply religious roots, Alone Before God will be of interest to specialists in Latin American history, modernity, and religion.
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Alone in Mexico
The Astonishing Travels of Karl Heller, 1845–1848
Karl Bartolomeus Heller, and translated and edited by Terry Rugeley
University of Alabama Press, 2007
The first-ever English translation of the memoirs of botanist and naturalist Karl Heller

This volume is the first-ever English translation of the memoirs of Karl Heller, a twenty-year-old aspiring Austrian botanist who traveled to Mexico in 1845 to collect specimens. He passed through the Caribbean, lived for a time in the mountains of Veracruz, and journeyed to Mexico City through the cities of Puebla and Cholula. After a brief residence in the capital, Heller moved westward to examine the volcanoes and silver mines near Toluca. When the United States invaded Mexico in 1846–47 conditions became chaotic, and the enterprising botanist was forced to flee to Yucatán. Heller lived in the port city of Campeche, but visited Mèrida, the ruins of Uxmal, and the remote southern area of the Champotòn River. From there Heller, traveling by canoe, journeyed through southern Tabasco and northern Chiapas and finally returned to Vienna through Cuba and the United States bringing back thousands of samples of Mexican plants and animals.

Heller's account is one of the few documents we have from travelers who visited Mexico in this period, and it is particularly useful in describing conditions outside the capital of Mexico City. In 1853 Heller published his German-language account as Reisen in Mexiko, but the work has remained virtually unknown to English or Spanish readers. This edition now provides a complete, annotated, and highly readable translation.
 
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American and British Writers in Mexico, 1556-1973
By Drewey Wayne Gunn
University of Texas Press, 1974

American and British Writers in Mexico is the study that laid the foundation upon which subsequent examinations of Mexico’s impact upon American and British letters have built. Chosen by the Mexican government to be placed, in translation, in its public libraries, the book was also referenced by Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz in an article in the New Yorker, “Reflections—Mexico and the United States.” Drewey Wayne Gunn demonstrates how Mexican experiences had a singular impact upon the development of English writers, beginning with early British explorers who recorded their impressions for Hakluyt’s Voyages, through the American Beats, who sought to escape the strictures of American culture.

Among the 140 or so writers considered are Stephen Crane, Ambrose Bierce, Langston Hughes, D. H. Lawrence, Somerset Maugham, Katherine Anne Porter, Hart Crane, Malcolm Lowry, John Steinbeck, Graham Greene, Tennessee Williams, Saul Bellow, William Carlos Williams, Robert Lowell, Ray Bradbury, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, and Jack Kerouac.

Gunn finds that, while certain elements reflecting the Mexican experience—colors, landscape, manners, political atmosphere, a sense of the alien—are common in their writings, the authors reveal less about Mexico than they do about themselves. A Mexican sojourn often marked the beginning, the end, or the turning point in a literary career. The insights that this pioneering study provide into our complex cultural relationship with Mexico, so different from American and British authors’ encounters with Continental cultures, remain vital. The book is essential for anyone interested in understanding the full range of the impact of the expatriate experience on writers.

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Americans in the Treasure House
Travel to Porfirian Mexico and the Cultural Politics of Empire
By Jason Ruiz
University of Texas Press, 2014

When railroads connected the United States and Mexico in 1884 and overland travel between the two countries became easier and cheaper, Americans developed an intense curiosity about Mexico, its people, and its opportunities for business and pleasure. Indeed, so many Americans visited Mexico during the Porfiriato (the long dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz, 1876–1911) that observers on both sides of the border called the hordes of tourists and business speculators a “foreign invasion,” an apt phrase for a historical moment when the United States was expanding its territory and influence.

Americans in the Treasure House examines travel to Mexico during the Porfiriato, concentrating on the role of travelers in shaping ideas of Mexico as a logical place for Americans to extend their economic and cultural influence in the hemisphere. Analyzing a wealth of evidence ranging from travelogues and literary representations to picture postcards and snapshots, Jason Ruiz demonstrates that American travelers constructed Mexico as a nation at the cusp of modernity, but one requiring foreign intervention to reach its full potential. He shows how they rationalized this supposed need for intervention in a variety of ways, including by representing Mexico as a nation that deviated too dramatically from American ideals of progress, whiteness, and sexual self-control to become a modern “sister republic” on its own. Most importantly, Ruiz relates the rapid rise in travel and travel discourse to complex questions about national identity, state power, and economic relations across the U.S.–Mexico border.

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Anarchism & The Mexican Working Class, 1860-1931
By John M. Hart
University of Texas Press, 1978

The anarchist movement had a crucial impact upon the Mexican working class between 1860 and 1931. John M. Hart destroys some old myths and brings new information to light as he explores anarchism's effect on the development of the Mexican urban working-class and agrarian movements.

Hart shows how the ideas of European anarchist thinkers took root in Mexico, how they influenced revolutionary tendencies there, and why anarchism was ultimately unsuccessful in producing real social change in Mexico. He explains the role of the working classes during the Mexican Revolution, the conflict between urban revolutionary groups and peasants, and the ensuing confrontation between the new revolutionary elite and the urban working class.

The anarchist tradition traced in this study is extremely complex. It involves various social classes, including intellectuals, artisans, and ordinary workers; changing social conditions; and political and revolutionary events which reshaped ideologies. During the nineteenth century the anarchists could be distinguished from their various working- class socialist and trade unionist counterparts by their singular opposition to government. In the twentieth century the lines became even clearer because of hardening anarchosyndicalist, anarchistcommunist, trade unionist, and Marxist doctrines. In charting the rise and fall of anarchism, Hart gives full credit to the roles of other forms of socialism and Marxism in Mexican working-class history.

Mexican anarchists whose contributions are examined here include nineteenth-century leaders Plotino Rhodakanaty, Santiago Villanueva, Francisco Zalacosta, and José María Gonzales; the twentieth-century revolutionary precursor Ricardo Flores Magón; the Casa del Obrero founders Amadeo Ferrés, Juan Francisco Moncaleano, and Rafael Quintero; and the majority of the Centro Sindicalista Ubertario, leaders of the General Confederation of Workers.

This work is based largely on primary sources, and the bibliography contains a definitive listing of anarchist and radical working-class newspapers for the period.

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The Anatomy of Eleven Towns in Michoacán
By Dan Stanislawski
University of Texas Press, 1950

In this book, Dan Stanislawski studies the geography of various small towns in one Mexican state. He discusses the factors—landscape, buildings, culture groups, and so forth—that create a unique personality for each of these towns.

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Anay's Will to Learn
A Woman's Education in the Shadow of the Maquiladoras
By Elaine Hampton with Anay Palomeque de Carrillo
University of Texas Press, 2013

The opening of free trade agreements in the 1980s caused major economic changes in Mexico and the United States. These economic activities spawned dramatic social changes in Mexican society. One young Mexican woman, Anay Palomeque de Carrillo, rode the tumultuous wave of these economic activities from her rural home in tropical southern Mexico to the factories in the harsh desert lands of Ciudad Juárez during the early years of the city’s notorious violence.

During her years as an education professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, author Elaine Hampton researched Mexican education in border factory (maquiladora) communities. On one trip across the border into Ciudad Juárez, she met Anay, who became her guide in uncovering the complexities of a factory laborer’s experiences in these turbulent times.

Hampton here provides an exploration of education in an era of dramatic social and economic upheaval in rural and urban Mexico. This critical ethnographic case study presents Anay’s experiences in a series of narrative essays addressing the economic, social, and political context of her world. This young Mexican woman leads us through Ciudad Juárez in its most violent years, into women’s experiences in the factories, around family and religious commitments as well as personal illness, and on to her achievement of an education through perseverance and creativity.

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Ancient American Art in Detail
Colin McEwan
Harvard University Press, 2009

This latest title in a strikingly beautiful series of collectable books turns our attention to the rich variety of art from the Ancient Americas. We gain fascinating insights into the design and production of a wide range of objects from Mexico and Central and South America. Enlarged details chosen to inspire, illuminate, and surprise bring us close to the world of the Olmecs, Mayans, Mixtecs, Aztecs, and Incans.

Beginning by asking what constitutes Ancient American art, Colin McEwan contextualizes this art in its complexity of form and meaning. The close-ups provide the reader with insights that even a behind-the-scenes museum tour cannot offer. As we move across a range of cultures and media, we understand larger issues within which these works of art are embedded: What is the relationship between art and nature in the Ancient Americas? How were these objects used in ritual and religious practices? What is the role of masks? How do the practices of ancestor deification, sacrifice, and rituals related to fertility and procreation shape the visual and material culture of the Ancient Americas?

Jade, turquoise, featherwork, metalwork, wood, stone, ceramics, textiles, and illustrations—each beautifully photographed object is part of the extraordinary Ancient American collection of the British Museum. The beauty of the smallest details is magnified and contextualized through accompanying essays written by experts in Ancient American art.

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The Ancient Future of the Itza
The book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin
Translated and annotated by Munro S. Edmonson
University of Texas Press, 1982

The title of Edmonson's work refers to the Mayan custom of first predicting their history and then living it, and it may be that no other peoples have ever gone so far in this direction. The Book of Chilam Balam was a sacred text prepared by generations of Mayan priests to record the past and to predict the future. The official prophet of each twenty-year rule was the Chilam Balam, or Spokesman of the Jaguar—the Jaguar being the supreme authority charged with converting the prophet's words into fact.

This is a literal but poetic translation of one of fourteen known manuscripts in Yucatecan Maya on ritual and history. It pictures a world of all but incredible numerological order, slowly yielding to Christianity and Spanish political pressure but never surrendering. In fact, it demonstrates the surprising truth of a secret Mayan government during the Spanish rule, which continued to collect tribute in the names of the ruined Classic cities and preserved the essence of the Mayan calendar as a legacy for the tradition's modern inheritors.

The history of the Yucatecan Maya from the seventh to the nineteenth century is revealed. And this is history as the Maya saw it—of a people concerned with lords and priests, with the cosmology which justified their rule, and with the civil war which they perceived as the real dimension of the colonial period.

A work of both history and literature, the Tizimin presents a great deal of Mayan thought, some of which has been suspected but not previously documented. Edmonson's skillful reordering of the text not only makes perfect historical sense but also resolves the long-standing problem of correlating the two colonial Mayan calendars. The book includes both interpretative and literal translations, as well as the Maya parallel couplets and extensive annotations on each page. The beauty of the sacred text is illuminated by the literal translation, while both versions unveil the magnificent historical, philosophical, and social traditions of the most sophisticated native culture in the New World.

The prophetic history of the Tizimin creates a portrait of the continuity and vitality, of the ancient past and the foreordained future of the Maya.

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Ancient Maya Commerce
Multidisciplinary Research at Chunchucmil
Scott R. Hutson
University Press of Colorado, 2017

Ancient Maya Commerce presents nearly two decades of multidisciplinary research at Chunchucmil, Yucatan, Mexico—a thriving Classic period Maya center organized around commercial exchange rather than agriculture. An urban center without a king and unable to sustain agrarian independence, Chunchucmil is a rare example of a Maya city in which economics, not political rituals, served as the engine of growth. Trade was the raison d’être of the city itself.

Using a variety of evidence—archaeological, botanical, geomorphological, and soil-based—contributors show how the city was a major center for both short- and long-distance trade, integrating the Guatemalan highlands, the Gulf of Mexico, and the interior of the northern Maya lowlands. By placing Chunchucmil into the broader context of emerging research at other Maya cities, the book reorients the understanding of ancient Maya economies. The book is accompanied by a highly detailed digital map that reveals the dense population of the city and the hundreds of streets its inhabitants constructed to make the city navigable, shifting the knowledge of urbanism among the ancient Maya.

Ancient Maya Commerce is a pioneering, thoroughly documented case study of a premodern market center and makes a strong case for the importance of early market economies in the Maya region. It will be a valuable addition to the literature for Mayanists, Mesoamericanists, economic anthropologists, and environmental archaeologists.

Contributors: Anthony P. Andrews, Traci Ardren, Sheryl Luzzadder-Beach, Timothy Beach, Chelsea Blackmore, Tara Bond-Freeman, Bruce H. Dahlin, Patrice Farrell, David Hixson, Socorro Jimenez, Justin Lowry, Aline Magnoni, Eugenia Mansell, Daniel E. Mazeau, Travis Stanton, Ryan V. Sweetwood, Richard E. Terry

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Ancient Mesoamerican Population History
Urbanism, Social Complexity, and Change
Adrian S. Z. Chase, Arlen F. Chase, and Diane Z. Chase
University of Arizona Press, 2024

Establishing ancient population numbers and determining how they were distributed across a landscape over time constitute two of the most pressing problems in archaeology. Accurate population data is crucial for modeling, interpreting, and understanding the past. Now, advances in both archaeology and technology have changed the way that such approximations can be achieved.

Including research from both highland central Mexico and the tropical lowlands of the Maya and Olmec areas, this book reexamines the demography in ancient Mesoamerica. Contributors present methods for determining population estimates, field methods for settlement pattern studies to obtain demographic data, and new technologies such as LiDAR (light detecting and ranging) that have expanded views of the ground in forested areas. Contributions to this book provide a view of ancient landscape use and modification that was not possible in the twentieth century. This important new work provides new understandings of Mesoamerican urbanism, development, and changes over time.

Contributors

Traci Ardren

M. Charlotte Arnauld

Bárbara Arroyo

Luke Auld-Thomas

Marcello A. Canuto

Adrian S. Z. Chase

Arlen F. Chase

Diane Z. Chase

Elyse D. Z. Chase

Javier Estrada

Gary M. Feinman

L. J. Gorenflo

Julien Hiquet

Scott R. Hutson

Gerardo Jiménez Delgado

Eva Lemonnier

Rodrigo Liendo Stuardo

José Lobo

Javier López Mejía

Michael L. Loughlin

Deborah L. Nichols

Christopher A. Pool

Ian G. Robertson

Jeremy A. Sabloff

Travis W. Stanton

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Ancient Mexican Art at Dumbarton Oaks
Susan Toby Evans
Harvard University Press, 2010
This volume, the third in a series of catalogues of Pre-Columbian art at Dumbarton Oaks, presents the outstanding collection of Aztec, Mixtec, Zapotec, Teotihuacan, and Classic Veracruz sculpture, jewelry, and painting. Four leading scholars present essays on the ancient art and archaeology of Mexico’s Central Highlands, Southwestern Highlands, and Gulf Lowlands as well as extensive catalogue entries of over one hundred objects of jade, shell, fine ceramics, wood, and other materials. The catalogue is richly illustrated with color plates, comparative illustrations, and diagrams presented as black-and-white figures. This catalogue will be an important and enduring reference for scholars and students, as well as an attractive volume for admirers of Pre-Columbian art.
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Ancient Origins of the Mexican Plaza
From Primordial Sea to Public Space
By Logan Wagner, Hal Box, and Susan Kline Morehead
University of Texas Press, 2013

The plaza has been a defining feature of Mexican urban architecture and culture for at least 4,000 years. Ancient Mesoamericans conducted most of their communal life in outdoor public spaces, and today the plaza is still the public living room in every Mexican neighborhood, town, and city—the place where friends meet, news is shared, and personal and communal rituals and celebrations happen. The site of a community’s most important architecture—church, government buildings, and marketplace—the plaza is both sacred and secular space and thus the very heart of the community.

This extensively illustrated book traces the evolution of the Mexican plaza from Mesoamerican sacred space to modern public gathering place. The authors led teams of volunteers who measured and documented nearly one hundred traditional Mexican town centers. The resulting plans reveal the layers of Mesoamerican and European history that underlie the contemporary plaza. The authors describe how Mesoamericans designed their ceremonial centers as embodiments of creation myths—the plaza as the primordial sea from which the earth emerged. They discuss how Europeans, even though they sought to eradicate native culture, actually preserved it as they overlaid the Mesoamerican sacred plaza with the Renaissance urban concept of an orthogonal grid with a central open space. The authors also show how the plaza’s historic, architectural, social, and economic qualities can contribute to mainstream urban design and architecture today.

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front cover of And Let the Earth Tremble at Its Centers
And Let the Earth Tremble at Its Centers
By Gonzalo Celorio
University of Texas Press, 2009

Professor Juan Manuel Barrientos prefers footsteps to footnotes. Fighting a hangover, he manages to keep his appointment to lead a group of students on a walking lecture among the historic buildings of downtown Mexico City. When the students fail to show up, however, he undertakes a solo tour that includes more cantinas than cathedrals. Unable to resist either alcohol itself or the introspection it inspires, Professor Barrientos muddles his personal past with his historic surroundings, setting up an inevitable conclusion in the very center of Mexico City.

First published in Mexico in the late 1990s, And Let the Earth Tremble at Its Centers was immediately lauded as a contemporary masterpiece in the long tradition of literary portraits of Mexico City. It is a book worthy of its dramatic title, which is drawn from a line in the Mexican national anthem.

Gonzalo Celorio first earned a place among the leading figures of Mexican letters for his scholarship and criticism, and careful readers will recognize a scholar's attention to accuracy within the novel's dyspeptic descriptions of Mexico City. The places described are indeed real (this edition includes a map that marks those visited in the story), though a few have since closed or been put to new uses. Dick Gerdes's elegant translation now preserves them all for a new audience.

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Angelitos
A Graphic Novel
Ilan Stavans and Santiago Cohen
The Ohio State University Press, 2018
From internationally renowned Ilan Stavans, in collaboration with award-winning illustrator Santiago Cohen, comes Angelitos: A Graphic Novelan explosive new graphic novel about a college student and his interactions with Padre Chinchachoma, a charismatic Catholic priest who devotes himself to rescuing homeless children in Mexico. Though his work gives hope to the desperate masses of children on the streets of Mexico City, his efforts interfere with and infuriate the police—with dire consequences. Set in a deeply classist society and against the backdrop of the tragic destruction of the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City, the core of the story also revolves around the student’s fear that Padre Chincha might be sexually abusing the children he rescues, at a time and place when such actions went unchecked by the Catholic Church.
 
Though Angelitos: A Graphic Novel is a fictional retelling of a desperate time, it draws on autobiographical elements to tell the real-life story of Alejandro García Durán de Lara, popularly known as Padre Chinchachoma, a complicated figure revered by some and reviled by others. 
 
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front cover of Animals and the Maya in Southeast Mexico
Animals and the Maya in Southeast Mexico
E. N. Anderson and Felix Medina Tzuc
University of Arizona Press, 2005
In Mexico’s southeastern frontier state of Quintana Roo, game animals and other creatures that depend on old-growth forest are disappearing in the face of habitat destruction and overhunting. Traditionally, the Yucatec Maya have regarded animals as fellow members of a wider society, and in their religion animals enjoy the status of spiritual beings. But in recent years, the breakdown of cultural restraints on hunting has spiraled so far out of control that almost everything edible within easy reach of a road has become fair game.

This book combines the insights of an anthropologist with the hands-on experience of a Maya campesino with the aim of improving the management of Quintana Roo’s wild lands and animal resources. E. N. Anderson and Felix Medina Tzuc pool their knowledge to document Yucatec Maya understanding and use of animals and to address practical matters related to wider conservation issues.
 
Although the Yucatec Maya’s ethnobotany has been well documented, until now little has been recorded about their animal lore. Anderson and Medina Tzuc have compiled a wealth of information about traditional knowledge of animals in this corner of the Maya world. They have recorded most of the terms widely used for several hundred categories of animals in west central Quintana Roo, mapped them onto biological categories, and recorded basic information about wildlife management and uses.

The book reflects a wealth of knowledge gathered from individuals regarded as experts on particular aspects of animal management, whether hunting, herding, or beekeeping. It also offers case studies of conservation successes and failures in various communities, pointing to the need for cooperation by the Mexican government and Maya people to save wildlife. Appendixes provide an extensive animal classification and a complete list of all birds identified in the area.

Even though sustainable forestry has finally come to the Yucatán, sustainable game use is practiced by only a few communities. Animals and the Maya in Southeast Mexico is a complete ethnozoology for the region, offered in the hope that it will encourage the recognition of Quintana Roo’s forests and wildlife as no less deserving of protection than ancient Maya cities.
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Anita Brenner
A Mind of Her Own
By Susannah Joel Glusker
University of Texas Press, 1998

Journalist, historian, anthropologist, art critic, and creative writer, Anita Brenner was one of Mexico's most discerning interpreters. Born to a Jewish immigrant family in Mexico a few years before the Revolution of 1910, she matured into an independent liberal who defended Mexico, workers, and all those who were treated unfairly, whatever their origin or nationality.

In this book, her daughter, Susannah Glusker, traces Brenner's intellectual growth and achievements from the 1920s through the 1940s. Drawing on Brenner's unpublished journals and autobiographical novel, as well as on her published writing, Glusker describes the origin and impact of Brenner's three major books, Idols Behind Altars,Your Mexican Holiday, and The Wind That Swept Mexico.

Along the way, Glusker traces Brenner's support of many liberal causes, including her championship of Mexico as a haven for Jewish immigrants in the early 1920s. This intellectual biography brings to light a complex, fascinating woman who bridged many worlds—the United States and Mexico, art and politics, professional work and family life.

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Anonimo Mexicano
Richley Crapo and Bonnie Glass-Coffin
Utah State University Press, 2005
Anonimo Mexicano is the first publication of the full Nahuatl text and English translation of a rare and important Native history of preconquest Mexico. Written circa 1600 by an anonymous Tlaxcaltecan author, it is an epic account of the settling of central Mexico by Nahua peoples from the northern frontier. They developed a sophisticated culture with powerful city states and an agricultural economy, fought great wars, established dynasties, and recorded their history and legends in painted books. The Mexica became the most powerful of these nations until their conquest by the Spanish with the help of the Tlaxcalteca, who were rivals of the Mexica and whose national origin tale was recorded in Anonimo Mexicano.
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Another Aesthetics Is Possible
Arts of Rebellion in the Fourth World War
Jennifer Ponce de León
Duke University Press, 2021
In Another Aesthetics Is Possible Jennifer Ponce de León examines the roles that art can play in the collective labor of creating and defending another social reality. Focusing on artists and art collectives in Argentina, Mexico, and the United States, Ponce de León shows how experimental practices in the visual, literary, and performing arts have been influenced by and articulated with leftist movements and popular uprisings that have repudiated neoliberal capitalism and its violence. Whether enacting solidarity with Zapatista communities through an alternate reality game or using surrealist street theater to amplify the more radical strands of Argentina's human rights movement, these artists fuse their praxis with forms of political mobilization from direct-action tactics to economic resistance. Advancing an innovative transnational and transdisciplinary framework of analysis, Ponce de León proposes a materialist understanding of art and politics that brings to the fore the power of aesthetics to both compose and make visible a world beyond capitalism.
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Answered Prayers
Miracles and Milagros along the Border
Eileen Oktavec
University of Arizona Press, 1995
When Catholics in the Southwest ask God or a saint for help, many of them do not merely pray. They also promise or present a gift—a tiny metal object known as a milagro. A milagro, which means "miracle" in Spanish, depicts the object for which a miracle is sought, such as a crippled leg or a new house. Milagros are offered for everything people pray for, and so they can represent almost anything imaginable—arms, lungs, hearts, and eyes; men, women, and children; animals, cars, boats—even lost handbags and imprisoned men.

In Answered Prayers, the Mexicans, Mexican Americans, Tohono O'odham, and Yaquis who practice this tradition share their stories of unwavering faith and divine intervention. Anthropologist and photographer Eileen Oktavec has spent more than two decades documenting this fascinating tradition in the Arizona-Mexico borderlands. Quoting extensive interviews, she explains the beliefs of the people who perform this ancient folk ritual and the many rules guiding this practice. She also describes the many places where milagros are offered—from the elaborate Mexican baroque Mission San Xavier near Tucson, Arizona, to tiny household shrines and hospitals on both sides of the border. Oktavec also explains how milagros are made, where they are bought, and how they are used in jewelry, sculpture, and art.
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Anthropomorphic Imagery in the Mesoamerican Highlands
Gods, Ancestors, and Human Beings
Brigitte Faugère
University Press of Colorado, 2019
In Anthropomorphic Imagery in the Mesoamerican Highlands, Latin American, North American, and European researchers explore the meanings and functions of two- and three-dimensional human representations in the Precolumbian communities of the Mexican highlands. Reading these anthropomorphic representations from an ontological perspective, the contributors demonstrate the rich potential of anthropomorphic imagery to elucidate personhood, conceptions of the body, and the relationship of human beings to other entities, nature, and the cosmos.
 
Using case studies covering a broad span of highlands prehistory—Classic Teotihuacan divine iconography, ceramic figures in Late Formative West Mexico, Epiclassic Puebla-Tlaxcala costumed figurines, earth sculptures in Prehispanic Oaxaca, Early Postclassic Tula symbolic burials, Late Postclassic representations of Aztec Kings, and more—contributors examine both Mesoamerican representations of the body in changing social, political, and economic conditions and the multivalent emic meanings of these representations. They explore the technology of artifact production, the body’s place in social structures and rituals, the language of the body as expressed in postures and gestures, hybrid and transformative combinations of human and animal bodies, bodily representations of social categories, body modification, and the significance of portable and fixed representations.
 
Anthropomorphic Imagery in the Mesoamerican Highlands provides a wide range of insights into Mesoamerican concepts of personhood and identity, the constitution of the human body, and human relationships with gods and ancestors. It will be of great value to students and scholars of the archaeology and art history of Mexico.
 
Contributors: Claire Billard, Danièle Dehouve, Cynthia Kristan-Graham, Melissa Logan, Sylvie Peperstraete, Patricia Plunket, Mari Carmen Serra Puche, Juliette Testard, Andrew Turner, Gabriela Uruñuela, Marcus Winter
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Antonio Caso
Philosopher of Mexico
By John H. Haddox
University of Texas Press, 1971

Few men have had as much cultural and educational influence on their own countries as the philosopher and educator Antonio Caso (1883-1946). He was above all a patriot of his beloved Mexico, and he sought to deliver his humanitarian message to his countrymen.

In his youth, after the revolt against Díaz, he was a member of the Ateneo de la Juventud, a group that sought to bring Mexico, spiritually and economically, back to the Mexicans. Caso realized that this effort involved the forming of a national consciousness among his people, whom he saw divided by their private and public interests.

As an educator of Mexican youth for more than thirty years, Caso sought to imbue in his students the desire to search and to question. He saw education as a perpetual search for truth, and his own life and philosophy reflect this search. He rejected any system that proposed to describe all of reality, and he despised all dogmas—official or unofficial. He particularly fought against positivism and Marxism, systems current in his youth.

The first part of this book is an introduction to the philosophical and educational ideas of Caso, as well as to the intellectual and political ideas in his life. Mr. Haddox skillfully shows the development of Caso's ideas and how they took shape from his own reading as well as from the experiences of his age and of his country. The second part contains Mr. Haddox's translations of selections from Caso's writings. They give a moving picture of Caso's hopes for Mexico and for humanitiy.

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front cover of Apotheosis Of Janaab
Apotheosis Of Janaab
G Aldana
University Press of Colorado, 2007

front cover of Archaeological Researches at Teotihuacan, Mexico
Archaeological Researches at Teotihuacan, Mexico
Sigvald Linne, with a foreword by Staffan Brunius and introduction by George L.
University of Alabama Press, 2003
The field data and archaeological analysis of the first controlled excavations of the vast "City of the Gods" in central Mexico
 
In 1932, the Ethnographical Museum of Sweden sent an archaeological expedition to Mexico under the direction of Sigvald Linné to determine the full extent of this ancient Teotihuacan occupation and to collect exhibit-quality artifacts. Of an estimated 2,000-plus residential compounds at Teotihuacan, only 20 apartment-like structures were excavated at the time. Yet Linné’s work revealed residential patterns that have been confirmed later in other locations.
 
Some of the curated objects from the Valley of Mexico and the adjacent state of Puebla are among the most rare and unique artifacts yet found. Another important aspect of this research was that, with the aid of the Museum of Natural History in Washington, Linné’s team conducted ethnographic interviews with remnant native Mexican peoples whose culture had not been entirely destroyed by the Conquest, thereby collecting and preserving valuable information for later research.
 
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front cover of Archaeological Settlement Pattern Data from the Chalco, Xochimilco, Ixtapalapa, Texcoco and Zumpango Regions, Mexico
Archaeological Settlement Pattern Data from the Chalco, Xochimilco, Ixtapalapa, Texcoco and Zumpango Regions, Mexico
Jeffrey R. Parsons, Keith W. Kintigh, and Susan A. Gregg
University of Michigan Press, 1983
This report is a descriptive tabulation of settlement pattern data collected by University of Michigan projects in the Valley of Mexico between 1967 and 1973. Data is presented in tabular form for hundreds of sites, including information on environmental zones, elevation, rainfall, soil depth, phases of occupation, and more.
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front cover of Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica
Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica
Edited by Claudia García-Des Lauriers and Michael W. Love
University of Utah Press, 2016

The Pacific coast and southern highlands of Chiapas and Guatemala is a region significant to debates about the origins of social complexity, interaction, and colonialism. The area, however, has received uneven attention and much of what we know is largely restricted to the Preclassic period. This theoretically eclectic volume presents greater temporal coverage, is geographically unified, and engages some of the most important questions of each period through a discussion of the archaeology of identity.
     Chapters range from traditional assessments of identity to discussion of practice and relational personhood; all share a concern for how archaeology and ethnohistory provide opportunities and challenges in the reconstruction of identities. The region is one with a multifaceted history of interactions between local populations and those from other parts of Mesoamerica. Linguistic diversity, landscape, and artistic representations have added to the complexities of understanding identity formation here. Rather than providing a unified voice on the issues, Archaeology and Identity on the Pacific Coast and Southern Highlands of Mesoamerica is a dialogue presented through case studies, one that will hopefully encourage future research in this complex and little understood region of Mesoamerica. 

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The Archaeology of La Calsada
A Rockshelter in the Sierra Madre Oriental, Mexico
By C. Roger Nance
University of Texas Press, 1992

On a remote mountainside 2,000 meters above sea level in the northern Sierra Madre Oriental, the rockshelter at La Calsada has yielded basic archaeological data for one of the least understood regions of prehistoric North America, the state of Nuevo León in northern Mexico. This comprehensive site report, with detailed information on artifacts and stratigraphy, provides baseline data for further explorations in the region and comparisons with other North American hunter-gatherer groups.

Radiocarbon dating traces the earliest component at the site to 8600-7500 B.C., giving La Calsada arguably the earliest well-dated lithic complex in Mexico. Nance describes some 1,140 recovered stone tools, with comparisons to the archaeology of southern and southwestern Texas, as well as reported sites in Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Nuevo León, Mexico.

From the lithic and stratigraphic analysis, Nance deduces occupational patterns at the site, beginning with Paleo-Indian cultures that lived in the area until about 7500 B.C. Through changes in tool technology, he follows the rise of the Abasolo tradition around 3000 B.C. and the appearance of a new culture with a radically different lithic industry around 1000 A.D.

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front cover of The Archaeology of Meaningful Places
The Archaeology of Meaningful Places
Brenda J Bowser
University of Utah Press, 2009
In the broadest sense this book is concerned with describing and explaining how particular places contain the key elements necessary for understanding the social worlds constructed, maintained, and modified by those who once inhabited them. This is achieved through the investigation of biographical, topographic, geopolitical, ideological, cosmological, and mnemonic facets of place, beginning with processes of place making and continuing with the development of networks among and between places and broader landscapes.

Diverse spatial and temporal contexts in two culture areas--Mesoamerica and the Greater Southwest--serve as backdrops for nine chapters in which fourteen contributors show how place is an ideal starting point to begin unraveling the human past. Several authors further address the enduring significance of places of the past for contemporary peoples. Among the many strengths of this volume is the careful way in which powerful concepts, diverse lines of thought, and empirical models are integrated to reveal the multiple facets of meaningful places, and to illustrate ways in which places may be approached archaeologically, theoretically, and culturally. Ultimately, the book’s contributors champion the notion that place is a valid and useful analytical unit for describing, reconstructing, interpreting, and explaining the form, structure, and temporality of the meanings humans ascribe to their environment.
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Archaeometallurgy in Mesoamerica
Current Approaches and New Perspectives
Aaron N. Shugar
University Press of Colorado, 2013
Presenting the latest in archaeometallurgical research in a Mesoamerican context, Archaeometallurgy in Mesoamerica brings together up-to-date research from the most notable scholars in the field. These contributors analyze data from a variety of sites, examining current approaches to the study of archaeometallurgy in the region as well as new perspectives on the significance metallurgy and metal objects had in the lives of its ancient peoples.

The chapters are organized following the cyclical nature of metals--beginning with extracting and mining ore, moving to smelting and casting of finished objects, and ending with recycling and deterioration back to the original state once the object is no longer in use. Data obtained from archaeological investigations, ethnohistoric sources, ethnographic studies, along with materials science analyses, are brought to bear on questions related to the integration of metallurgy into local and regional economies, the sacred connotations of copper objects, metallurgy as specialized crafting, and the nature of mining, alloy technology, and metal fabrication.
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front cover of Architecture and Its Sculpture in Viceregal Mexico
Architecture and Its Sculpture in Viceregal Mexico
By Robert J. Mullen
University of Texas Press, 1997

From monumental cathedrals to simple parish churches, perhaps as many as 100,000 churches and civic buildings were constructed in Mexico during the viceregal or colonial period (1535-1821). Many of these structures remain today as witnesses to the fruitful blending of Old and New World forms and styles that created an architecture of enduring vitality.

In this profusely illustrated book, Robert J. Mullen provides a much-needed overview of Mexican colonial architecture and its attendant sculpture. Writing with just the right level of detail for students and general readers, he places the architecture in its social and economic context. He shows how buildings in the larger cities remained closer to European designs, while buildings in the pueblos often included prehispanic indigenous elements.

This book grew out of the author's twenty-five-year exploration of Mexico's architectural and sculptural heritage. Combining an enthusiast's love for the subject with a scholar's care for accuracy, it is the perfect introduction to the full range of Mexico's colonial architecture.

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front cover of Archiving Mexican Masculinities in Diaspora
Archiving Mexican Masculinities in Diaspora
Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández
Duke University Press, 2021
In Archiving Mexican Masculinities in Diaspora, Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández challenges machismo—a shorthand for racialized and heteronormative Latinx men's misogyny—with nuanced portraits of Mexican men and masculinities along and across the US-Mexico border. Guidotti-Hernández foregrounds Mexican men's emotional vulnerabilities and intimacies in their diasporic communities. Highlighting how Enrique Flores Magón, an anarchist political leader and journalist, upended gender norms through sentimentality and emotional vulnerability that he performed publicly and expressed privately, Guidotti-Hernández documents compelling continuities between his expressions and those of men enrolled in the Bracero program. Braceros—more than 4.5 million Mexican men who traveled to the United States to work in temporary agricultural jobs from 1942 to 1964—forged domesticity and intimacy, sharing affection but also physical violence. Through these case studies that reexamine the diasporic male private sphere, Guidotti-Hernández formulates a theory of transnational Mexican masculinities rooted in emotional and physical intimacy that emerged from the experiences of being racial, political, and social outsiders in the United States.
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Art and Social Movements
Cultural Politics in Mexico and Aztlán
Edward J. McCaughan
Duke University Press, 2012
Art and Social Movements offers a comparative, cross-border analysis of the role of visual artists in three social movements from the late 1960s through the early 1990s: the 1968 student movement and related activist art collectives in Mexico City, a Zapotec indigenous struggle in Oaxaca, and the Chicano movement in California. Based on extensive archival research and interviews, Edward J. McCaughan explores how artists helped to shape the identities and visions of a generation of Mexican and Chicano activists by creating new visual discourses.

McCaughan argues that the social power of activist artists emanates from their ability to provoke people to see, think, and act in innovative ways. Artists, he claims, help to create visual languages and spaces through which activists can imagine and perform new collective identities and forms of meaningful citizenship. The artists' work that he discusses remains vital today—in movements demanding fuller democratic rights and social justice for working people, women, ethnic communities, immigrants, and sexual minorities throughout Mexico and the United States. Integrating insights from scholarship on the cultural politics of representation with structural analyses of specific historical contexts, McCaughan expands our understanding of social movements.

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front cover of The Art of Being In-between
The Art of Being In-between
Native Intermediaries, Indian Identity, and Local Rule in Colonial Oaxaca
Yanna Yannakakis
Duke University Press, 2008
In The Art of Being In-between Yanna Yannakakis rethinks processes of cultural change and indigenous resistance and accommodation to colonial rule through a focus on the Sierra Norte of Oaxaca, a rugged, mountainous, ethnically diverse, and overwhelmingly indigenous region of colonial Mexico. Her rich social and cultural history tells the story of the making of colonialism at the edge of empire through the eyes of native intermediary figures: indigenous governors clothed in Spanish silks, priests’ assistants, interpreters, economic middlemen, legal agents, landed nobility, and “Indian conquistadors.” Through political negotiation, cultural brokerage, and the exercise of violence, these fascinating intercultural figures redefined native leadership, sparked indigenous rebellions, and helped forge an ambivalent political culture that distinguished the hinterlands from the centers of Spanish empire.

Through interpretation of a wide array of historical sources—including descriptions of public rituals, accounts of indigenous rebellions, idolatry trials, legal petitions, court cases, land disputes, and indigenous pictorial histories—Yannakakis weaves together an elegant narrative that illuminates political and cultural struggles over the terms of local rule. As cultural brokers, native intermediaries at times reconciled conflicting interests, and at other times positioned themselves in opposing camps over the outcome of municipal elections, the provision of goods and labor, landholding, community ritual, the meaning of indigenous “custom” in relation to Spanish law, and representations of the past. In the process, they shaped an emergent “Indian” identity in tension with other forms of indigenous identity and a political order characterized by a persistent conflict between local autonomy and colonial control. This innovative study provides fresh insight into colonialism’s disparate cultures and the making of race, ethnicity, and the colonial state and legal system in Spanish America.

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The Art of Professing in Bourbon Mexico
Crowned-Nun Portraits and Reform in the Convent
By James M. Córdova
University of Texas Press, 2014

In the eighteenth century, New Spaniards (colonial Mexicans) so lauded their nuns that they developed a local tradition of visually opulent portraits, called monjas coronadas or “crowned nuns,” that picture their subjects in regal trappings at the moment of their religious profession and in death. This study identifies these portraits as markers of a vibrant and changing society that fused together indigenous and Euro-Christian traditions and ritual practices to construct a new and complex religious identity that was unique to New Spain.

To discover why crowned-nun portraits, and especially the profession portrait, were in such demand in New Spain, this book offers a pioneering interpretation of these works as significant visual contributions to a local counter-colonial discourse. James M. Córdova demonstrates that the portraits were a response to the Spanish crown’s project to modify and modernize colonial society—a series of reforms instituted by the Bourbon monarchs that threatened many nuns’ religious identities in New Spain. His analysis of the portraits’ rhetorical devices, which visually combined Euro-Christian and Mesoamerican notions of the sacred, shows how they promoted local religious and cultural values as well as client-patron relations, all of which were under scrutiny by the colonial Church. Combining visual evidence from images of the “crowned nun” with a discussion of the nuns’ actual roles in society, Córdova reveals that nuns found their greatest agency as Christ’s brides, a title through which they could, and did, challenge the Church’s authority when they found it intolerable.

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The Art of Urbanism
How Mesoamerican Kingdoms Represented Themselves in Architecture and Imagery
William L. Fash
Harvard University Press, 2009

The Art of Urbanism explores how the royal courts of powerful Mesoamerican centers represented their kingdoms in architectural, iconographic, and cosmological terms. Through an investigation of the ecological contexts and environmental opportunities of urban centers, the contributors consider how ancient Mesoamerican cities defined themselves and reflected upon their physical—and metaphysical—place via their built environment. Themes in the volume include the ways in which a kingdom’s public monuments were fashioned to reflect geographic space, patron gods, and mythology, and how the Olmec, Maya, Mexica, Zapotecs, and others sought to center their world through architectural monuments and public art.

This collection of papers addresses how communities leveraged their environment and built upon their cultural and historical roots as well as the ways that the performance of calendrical rituals and other public events tied individuals and communities to both urban centers and hinterlands. Twenty-three scholars from archaeology, anthropology, art history, and religious studies contribute new data and new perspectives to the understanding of ancient Mesoamericans’ own view of their spectacular urban and ritual centers.

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Artifacts from the Cenote of Sacrifice, Chichen Itza, Yucatan
Textiles, Basketry, Stone, Bone, Shell, Ceramics, Wood, Copal, Rubber, other Organic Materials, and Mammalian Remains
Clemency Chase Coggins
Harvard University Press, 1992
In this abundantly illustrated third and final volume on the artifacts found by Edward H. Thompson in the Well of Sacrifice, specialists analyze the great variety of objects and debate whether they represent evidence of dateable prehistorical ritual. The collection includes the rare remains of hundreds of textiles, wooden objects, and copal incense offerings that were preserved in the waters of this limestone sinkhole, as well as the lithics, ceramics, and bone and shell artifacts commonly found in Maya burials and caches, and about 250 mammalian remains. These objects are remarkable for having been cut, torn, broken, and burned before they were thrown into the green waters of the sacred well at Chichen Itza.
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Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests
Intellectual Interchange between the Northern Maya Lowlands and Highland Mexico in the Late Postclassic Period
Gabrielle Vail
Harvard University Press, 2010
Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests examines evidence for cultural interchange among the intellectual powerbrokers in Postclassic Mesoamerica, specifically those centered in the northern Maya lowlands and the central Mexican highlands. Contributors to the volume’s thirteen chapters bring an interdisciplinary perspective to understanding the interactions that led to shared content in hieroglyphic codices and mural art. The authors address similarities in artifacts, architectural styles, and building alignments—often produced in regions separated by hundreds of miles—based on their analyses of iconographic, archaeological, linguistic, and epigraphic material. The volume includes a wealth of new data and interpretive frameworks in this comprehensive discussion of a critical time period in the Mesoamerican past.
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Atlas of Coastal Ecosystems in the Western Gulf of California
Tracking Limestone Deposits on the Margin of a Young Sea
Edited by Markes E. Johnson and Jorge Ledesma-Vásquez
University of Arizona Press, 2009
The Gulf of California is one of the most beautiful places in the world, but it is also important to earth and marine scientists who work far beyond the area. In text and an accompanying CD-ROM with stunning satellite images, this atlas captures the dynamics of natural cycles in the fertility of the Gulf of California that have been in near-continuous operation for more than five million years. The book is designed to answer key questions that link the health of coastal ecosystems with the region’s evolutionary history: What was the richness of “fossil” ecosystems in the Gulf of California? How has it changed over time? Which ecosystems are most amenable to conservation?

With an emphasis on the intricate workings of the Gulf, a team of scientists led by Markes E. Johnson and Jorge Ledesma-Vázquez explores how marine invertebrates such as corals and bivalves, as well as certain algae, contribute to the operation of a vast “organic engine” that acts as a significant carbon trap. The Atlas reveals that the role of these organisms in the ecology of the Gulf was greatly underestimated in the past. The organisms that live in these environments (or provide the sediments for beaches and dunes) are mass producers of calcium carbonate. Until now, no book has considered the centrality of calcium carbonate production as it functions today across multiple ecosystems and how it has evolved over time.

An important work of scholarship that also evokes the region’s natural splendor, the Atlas will be of interest to a wide range of scientists, including geologists, paleontologists, marine biologists, ecologists, and conservation biologists.
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Attack and Counterattack
The Texas-Mexican Frontier, 1842
By Joseph Milton Nance
University of Texas Press, 1964

It is 1842—a dramatic year in the history of Texas-Mexican relations. After five years of uneasy peace, of futile negotiations, of border raids and temporary, unofficial truces, a series of military actions upsets the precarious balance between the two countries. Once more the Mexican Army marches on Texas soil; once more the frontier settlers strengthen their strongholds for defense or gather their belongings for flight. Twice San Antonio falls to Mexican generals; twice the Texans assemble armies for the invasion of Mexico. It is 1842—a year of attack and counterattack.

This is the story that Joseph Milton Nance relates, with a definitiveness and immediacy which come from many years of meticulous research. The exciting story of 1842 is a story of emotions which had simmered through the long, insecure years and which now boil out in blustery threats and demands for vengeance. The Texans threaten to march beyond the Sierra Madres and raise their flag at Monterrey; the Mexicans promise to subdue this upstart Texas and to teach its treacherous inhabitants their place. With communications poor and imaginations fertile, rumors magnify chance banditry into military raids, military raids into full-scale invasions. Newspapers incite their readers with superdramatic, intoxicating accounts of the events. Texans and Mexicans alike respond with a kind of madness that has little or no method. Texas solicits volunteers, calls out troops, plans invasions, and assembles her armies, completely disregarding the fact that her treasury is practically empty—there is little money to buy guns. Meanwhile, in Mexico, where gold and silver are needed for other purposes, “invasions” of Texas are launched—but they are only brief forays more suitable for impressive publicity than for permanent gains.

Still, the conflicts of threat and retaliation, so often futile, are frequently dignified by idealism, friendship, courage, and determination. Both Mexicans and Texans are fighting and dying for liberty, defending their homes against foreign invaders, establishing and maintaining friendships that cross racial and national boundaries, struggling with conflicting loyalties, and—all the while—striving to wrest a living for themselves and their families from the grudging frontier.

Attack and Counterattack, continuing the account which was begun in After San Jacinto, tells from original sources the full story of Texas-Mexican relations from the time of the Santa Fe Expedition through the return of the Somervell Expedition from the Rio Grande. These books examine in great detail and with careful accuracy a period of Texas history that had not heretofore been thoroughly studied and that had seldom been given unbiased treatment. The source materials compiled in the notes and bibliography—particularly the military reports, letters, diaries, contemporary newspapers, and broadsides—will be a valuable tool for any scholar who wishes to study this or related periods.

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Aztec Antichrist
Performing the Apocalypse in Early Colonial Mexico
Ben Leeming
University Press of Colorado, 2022
In Aztec Antichrist, Ben Leeming presents a transcription, translation, and study of two sixteenth-century Nahuatl religious plays that are likely the earliest surviving presentations of the Antichrist legend in the Americas, and possibly the earliest surviving play scripts in the whole of the New World in any language.
 
Discovered in the archives of the Hispanic Society of America in New York inside a notebook of miscellaneous Nahuatl-Christian texts written almost entirely by an Indigenous writer named Fabían de Aquino, the plays are filled with references to human sacrifice, bloodletting, ritual divination, and other religious practices declared “idolatrous” at a time when ecclesiastical authorities actively sought to suppress writing about Indigenous religion. These are Indigenous plays for an Indigenous audience that reveal how Nahuas made sense of Christianity and helped form its colonial image—the title figure is a powerful Indigenous being, an “Aztec Antichrist,” who violently opposes the evangelizing efforts of the church and seeks to draw converted Nahuas back to the religious practices of their ancestors. These practices include devotion to Nahua deities such as Tlaloc, Quetzalcoatl, and Tezcatlipoca who, in one of the most striking moves made by Aquino, are cast as characters in the plays.
 
Along with the translations, Leeming provides context and analysis highlighting these rare and fascinating examples of early Indigenous American literature that offer a window into the complexity of Nahua interactions with Christianity in the early colonial period. The work is extremely valuable to all students and scholars of Latin American religion, colonialism, Indigenous history, and early modern history and theater.
 
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Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes
Davíd Carrasco
University Press of Colorado, 1999
A result of four years of cooperative research between the University of Colorado and the Templo Mayor Project of Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, Aztec Ceremonial Landscapes (formerly available as To Change Place) offers new interpretive models from the fields of archaeoastronomy, history of religion, anthropology, art history, and archaeology. Included are contributions by such noted experts as Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Davíd Carrasco, Alfredo López Austin, Doris Heyden, Richard F. Townsend, Anthony Aveni, Henry B. Nicholson, Elizabeth Boone, Felipe Solis, and Johanna Broda, with a new introduction by William Fash.
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Aztec City-States
Mary G. Hodge
University of Michigan Press, 1984
The building blocks of the Aztec state were smaller, local polities known as city-states. Author Mary G. Hodge selected five city-states in the Valley of Mexico (Amecameca, Cuauhtitlan, Xochimilco, Coyoacan, and Teotihuacan) for detailed study of their internal organization.
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Aztec Imperial Strategies
Frances F. Berdan
Harvard University Press, 1996
Papers from the 1986 Summer Seminar, “Empire, Province, and Village in Aztec History.”
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The Aztec Kings
The Construction of Rulership in Mexican History
Susan D. Gillespie
University of Arizona Press, 1989
Winner of the American Society for Ethnohistory's Erminie Wheeler-Voegelin Prize

Scholars have long viewed histories of the Aztecs either as flawed chronologies plagued by internal inconsistencies and intersource discrepancies or as legends that indiscriminately mingle reality with the supernatural. But this new work draws fresh conclusions from these documents, proposing that Aztec dynastic history was recast by its sixteenth-century recorders not merely to glorify ancestors but to make sense out of the trauma of conquest and colonialism.

The Aztec Kings is the first major study to take into account the Aztec cyclical conception of time—which required that history constantly be reinterpreted to achieve continuity between past and present—and to treat indigenous historical traditions as symbolic statements in narrative form. Susan Gillespie focuses on the dynastic history of the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, whose stories reveal how the Aztecs used "history" to construct, elaborate, and reify ideas about the nature of rulership and the cyclical nature of the cosmos, and how they projected the Spanish conquest deep into the Aztec past in order to make history accommodate that event.

By demonstrating that most of Aztec history is nonliteral, she sheds new light on Aztec culture and on the function of history in society. By relating the cyclical structure of Aztec dynastic history to similar traditions of African and Polynesian peoples, she introduces a broader perspective on the function of history in society and on how and why history must change.
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The Aztec Palimpsest
Mexico in the Modern Imagination
Daniel Cooper Alarcón
University of Arizona Press, 1997
Mexico is more than a country; it is a concept that is the product of a complex network of discourses as disparate as the rhetoric of Chicano nationalism, English-language literature about Mexico, and Mexican tourist propaganda. The idea of "Mexicanness," says Daniel Cooper Alarcón, "has arisen through a process of erasure and superimposition as these discourses have produced contentious and sometimes contradictory descriptions of their subject." By considering Mexicanness as a palimpsest of these competing yet interwoven narratives, Cooper offers a paradigm through which the construction and representation of cultural identity can be studied.

He shows how the Chicano myth of Aztlan was constructed upon earlier Mesoamerican myths, discusses representations of Mexico in texts by nineteenth- and twentieth-century writers, and analyzes the content of tourist literature, thereby revealing the economic, social, and political interests that drive the production of Mexicanness today. This original linking of seemingly incongruous discourses corrects the misconception that Mexicanness is produced only by hegemonic groups. Cooper shows how Mexico has been defined and represented, by both Mexicans and non-Mexicans, as more than a political or geographic entity, and he particularly reveals how Mexicanness has been exploited by Mexicans themselves through the promotion of tourism as a form of neocolonialism.

Cooper's work is valuable both for identifying attempts to revise and control Mexican myth, history, and culture and for defining the intricate relationship between history, historiography, and cultural nationalism. The Aztec Palimpsest extends existing analyses of Mexicanness into new theoretical realms and provides a fresh perspective on the relationship between the United States and Mexico at a time when these two nations are becoming more intimately linked.
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The Aztecs at Independence
Nahua Culture Makers in Central Mexico, 1799–1832
Miriam Melton-Villanueva
University of Arizona Press, 2016
Nahuatl-speaking women and men left last wills in their own tongue during an era when the written tradition of their language was generally assumed to have ended. Describing their world in testaments clustered around epidemic cycles, they responded to profound changes in population, land use, and local governance with astonishing vibrancy.

The Aztecs at Independence offers the first internal ethnographic view of these central Mexican indigenous communities in the critical transitional time of Independence. Miriam Melton-Villanueva uses previously unknown Nahuatl-language sources—primarily last wills and testaments—to provide a comprehensive understanding of indigenous societies during the transition from colonial to postcolonial times. The book describes the cultural life of people now called Nahuas or Mexicas in the nineteenth century—based on their own words, their own written records. The book uses previously unknown, unstudied, and untranslated indigenous texts to bring Nahua society into history, fleshing out glimpses of daily life in the early nineteenth century. Thus, The Aztecs at Independence describes life at the most local level: Nahua lineages of ritual and writing, guilds and societies, the people that take turns administering festivals and attending to the last wishes of the dying.

Interwoven with personal stories and memory, The Aztecs at Independence invites a general audience along on a scholarly journey, where readers are asked to imagine Nahua concepts and their contemporary meanings that give light to modern problems.
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Aztecs, Moors, and Christians
Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain
By Max Harris
University of Texas Press, 2000

In villages and towns across Spain and its former New World colonies, local performers stage mock battles between Spanish Christians and Moors or Aztecs that range from brief sword dances to massive street theatre lasting several days. The festival tradition officially celebrates the triumph of Spanish Catholicism over its enemies, yet this does not explain its persistence for more than five hundred years nor its widespread diffusion.

In this insightful book, Max Harris seeks to understand Mexicans' "puzzling and enduring passion" for festivals of moros y cristianos. He begins by tracing the performances' roots in medieval Spain and showing how they came to be superimposed on the mock battles that had been a part of pre-contact Aztec calendar rituals. Then using James Scott's distinction between "public" and "hidden transcripts," he reveals how, in the hands of folk and indigenous performers, these spectacles of conquest became prophecies of the eventual reconquest of Mexico by the defeated Aztec peoples. Even today, as lively descriptions of current festivals make plain, they remain a remarkably sophisticated vehicle for the communal expression of dissent.

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