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Shared Space

James S. Griffith

Publication Year: 1995

Where it divides Arizona and Sonora, the international boundary between Mexico and the United States is both a political reality, literally expressed by a fence, and, to a considerable degree, a cultural illusion. Mexican, Anglo, and Native American cultures straddle the fence; people of various ethnic backgrounds move back and forth across the artificial divide, despite increasing obstacles to free movement. On either side is found a complex cultural mix of ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. In A Shared Space James Griffith examines many of the distinctive folk expressions of this varied cultural region.

Published by: Utah State University Press

Contents, Illustrations

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pp. v-vi

Acknowledgments, Map of Pimeria Alta

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pp. vii-xi

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Introduction: A Fence in the Desert1

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pp. 1-12

Southern Arizona is border country in a number of ways. In the first place, its southern boundary is also an international border, shared with the Mexican state of Sonora. The borderline, as well as the broader cultural zone of the border, are basic realities of life in southern Arizona and northern Sonora. But southern Arizona is itself a multicultural region with its own system of what one might call internal borders. ...

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Chapter 1: Respect and Continuity: The Arts of Death in a Border Community1

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pp. 13-33

This first essay deals very specifically with the border, both as a line of demarcation and as a cultural region in its own right. Cemeteries in Nogales, Arizona, are different from those in Nogales, Sonora. Yet they are coming to resemble each other in important ways, as manifestations of a border culture that partakes of but differs from the patterns to be found in the heartlands of each of the two nations involved. Like all the traditions discussed in this book, the cemetery arts of these twin border cities are dynamic, changing as the population changes, and as new possibilities arise. ...

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Chapter 2: The Magdalena Holy Picture: Religious Folk Art in Two Cultures1

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pp. 35-54

The annual fiesta de San Francisco draws thousands of people each October to the mission town of Magdalena, Sonora. O'odham, Yaquis, Mexicans, and Mexican Americans all pay their respects to a composite Saint Francis who is widely regarded as the patron of the Pimeria Alta. After their devotional activities are finished, the pilgrims relax, visit, eat and drink, and purchase goods of all sorts. Among the objects offered for sale are small, elaborately painted glass frames for holy pictures. ...

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Chapter 3: Cascarones: A Florescent Folk Art Form in Southern Arizona1

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pp. 55-66

We now move to an examination of one minor form of traditional art-cascarones. These are basically party supplies-they are decorated eggshells that have been filled with confetti, and are intended to be broken over the heads of partygoers, thus increasing the celebratory atmosphere of the occasion. Cascarones have been a part of Mexican culture for at least 150 years, and are made and used allover the borderlands. In the Tucson area, cascarones have become elaborate works of art, colorful confections of paper, paint, glitter, and eggshell. ...

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Chapter 4: El Tiradito and Juan Soldado: Two Victim Intercessors of the Western Borderlands1

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pp. 67-86

In this essay we move from portable art forms to shrines and the beliefs that are associated with them. For at least a century, Tucson has been home to a shrine dedicated to a saint-like figure which seems to function within the patterns but outside the sanctions of the Roman Catholic Church. This spirit belongs to a class that I have called "victim intercessors. " The essay examines several victim intercessors in the western borderlands and suggests parallels and historical antecedents for these beliefs. ...

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Chapter 5: The Black Christ of

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pp. 87-107

As for as I can discover, Juan Soldado is relatively unknown in Arizona. I have seen no depictions of him on altars or in shrines, and have met none of his devotees outside of Mexico. El Tiradito, on the other hand, is not only located in the United States, it has "crossed the border" into Anglo American culture. El Tiradito has become a multiple-use location, and perhaps as many Anglos as Mexicanos tell the stories of el Tiradito the person. ...

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Chapter 6: “The Mormon Cowboy:” An Arizona Cowboy Song and its Community1

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pp. 109-122

With this essay we move north from the Pimeria Alta into the mountains of Gila County and the mining and cattle country south of Globe, Arizona. The song that is the subject of this case study has never achieved importance within the canon of cowboy songs, although a few revival singers have seen .fit to add it to their repertoires. As the essay makes clear, however, borders of a kind exist beyond an international context, and materials which are shared by more than one subculture within our dominant society may well serve different functions and have different meanings in their various cultural contexts. ...

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Chapter 7: Leonardo Yañez and “El Moro de Cumpas:” A Borderlands Horse-Race Ballad and its Composer

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pp. 123-145

The ballad (or rather, corrido) which is the subject of this essay differs from "The Mormon Cowboy" in several ways. In the first place, it is in Spanish. In addition, while "The Mormon Cowboy" never really entered tradition to any great extent beyond its home community, "El Moro de Cumpas" is one of Sonora's two best-known corridos. The community that danced at the El Capitan schoolhouse and sang the song was a complex one, composed of several religious and occupational groups; the community that sings about el Moro appears to be more unified, especially in a border context where it contrasts with Anglo American society. ...

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Chapter 8: Baroque Principles of Organization in Contemporary Mexican American Arizona1

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pp. 147-164

This final essay also deals with one of the cultural components of the region-Mexican American culture. Unlike the preceding chapter, however, it focuses on a much broader issue: the aesthetic ideas that seem to underlie and inform much of what is produced by that culture. I have often been struck by what I perceive as strong cultural continuities over time in the Pimeria Alta. ...

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A Few Final Words

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pp. 165-168

...In the first place, this is a region of strong continuities. Not only does Mission San Xavier del Bac still stand relatively unchanged since 1797, but also the organizational principles that governed its decoration are still powerful forces in the life of contemporary Mexican Americans in the region, two hundred years after the baroque went out of fashion in mainstream Mexican culture. ...


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pp. 169-189


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pp. 191-198


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pp. 199-207

E-ISBN-13: 9780874213751
Print-ISBN-13: 9780874211870

Publication Year: 1995