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A Study of Everyday Meanings in Hispano New Mexico

Alvin O. Korte

Publication Year: 2012

Much knowledge and understanding can be generated from the experiences of everyday life. In this engaging study, Alvin O. Korte examines how this concept applies to Spanish-speaking peoples adapted to a particular locale, specifically the Hispanos and Hispanas of northern New Mexico. Drawing on social philosopher Alfred Schutz’s theory of typification, Korte looks at how meaning and identity are crafted by quotidian activities. Incorporating phenomenological and ethnomethodological strategies, the author investigates several aspects of local Hispano culture, including the oral tradition, leave-taking, death and remembrances of the dead, spirituality, and the circle of life. Although avoiding a social-problems approach, the book devotes necessary attention to mortificación (the death of the self), desmadre (chaos and disorder), and mancornando (cuckoldry). Nosotros is a vivid and insightful exploration with applications in numerous fields.

Published by: Michigan State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xiv

Hispanos are the descendants of the Spanish/Mexican families that settled the northernmost province of New Spain and are today indigenous to New Mexico and parts of Colorado and Arizona. La Provincia de Nuevo Mexico became part of Mexico in 1821, when the latter gained its independence from Spain, then...

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pp. xv-xxii

In this book, I use phenomenology and ethnomethodology to take a closer look at elements of Hispano(a) life in northern New Mexico—everyday things that most people do not pay attention to as they go about their lives. In this exploration, I use ideas from a variety of sources, including newspaper obituaries...


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pp. xxiii-xxiv

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Chapter 1. Phenomenology of Everyday Life: Fenomenología Cotidiana y los Hispanos

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pp. 1-26

This book is a study of epistemology, which I define as what people know in their daily lives. Becker and Laing are used as starting points for a general depiction of Hispano thought, which includes the study of how language develops an understanding of the world of everyday life. Language usage is the vehicle...

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Chapter 2. The Oral Tradition: El Saber Popular

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pp. 27-56

Language is the major means by which people express their everyday needs or explicate significant thoughts and feelings about the world of social relations. Naturally no study of Hispanos would be complete without considering their oral tradition. Although this chapter covers components of a phenomenological or...

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Chapter 3. Mortification, an Interactional Perspective: La Mortificación

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pp. 57-72

Yo tengo mortificaciones; tu tienes mortificaciones; todos tenemos mortificaciones! We all have minor and major troubles that beset us. This chapter discusses a single concept, mortificación, but the method of examination can be used to clarify other terms relating to people’s well-being. What is taken up in these...

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Chapter 4. Shame, Respect, and Joking Exchanges: Vergüenza, Respeto, y la Carría

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pp. 73-90

In 1922, John Dewey wrote, “These two facts, that moral judgment and moral responsibility are the work wrought in us by the social environment, signify that all morality is social; not because we ought to take into account the effect of our acts upon the welfare of others, but because of facts. Others do take into account...

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Chapter 5. Violence in Mexican Music: Mancornando

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pp. 91-122

La mancornadora is a theme in Mexican music that depicts a heavy existential experience between men and women. Th e songs are filled with graphic and painful metaphors. Th e outcome is often tragic and violent, and often involves the killing of women. The term mancornar represents power and control, and the animal...

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Chapter 6. Being in Prison: En la Pinta

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pp. 123-140

Hispano life in prison is poorly documented. This is due in part to lack of access and in part to the fact that men in prison as brothers, husbands, or sweethearts are often forgotten by society. Th e work reported in this chapter is partly drawn from a study conducted many years ago in a southwestern state. Other...

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Chapter 7. Multiple Realities: Múltiples Realidades

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pp. 141-170

In this chapter, I continue to explore the question of what constitutes a convict, a veterano, as defined by a group of Chicanos in a maximum-security prison in the Southwest. Th is chapter shows, more than anything, some of the tensions that arise in the prison. How do men deal with the tensions that build up between...

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Chapter 8. Curse and Disorder: El Desmadre

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pp. 171-190

This chapter takes the word desmadre as used in everyday life and subjects it to a descriptive analysis. To conduct a phenomenological analysis is to bracket what we think we know about an experience. More important, it is to “study . . . the structures that govern the instances of particular manifestations of the essence of...

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Chapter 9. Leave Taking: Despedidas

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pp. 191-214

Hispanos in northern New Mexico commemorate the death of a loved one with a written narrative referred to as a recuerdo (a remembrance). These narratives (or ballads) share many characteristics of the corrido and its forerunner, the Spanish romance. The romance, a popular form of epic poetry, and the corrido depict...

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Chapter 10. From Tombstones to Star Trek: ¡Qué poco soy! ¿No soy más?

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pp. 215-244

Joseph Campbell raises an interesting question about the differing views of death in planting cultures, on the one hand, and hunting and forest cultures, on the other. Planting cultures turn to the plant as a metaphor for understanding death. Th e self-regenerative powers of the plant mean that its nature can be characterized...

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Chapter 11. Seeking Light after the Great Night: Tinieblas

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pp. 245-266

The Tinieblas, from the Latin tenebrae, is the last ceremony before Easter Sunday conducted by the La Cofradía de Nuestro Padre Jesús Nazareno (also known as Los Hermanos Penitentes) [the Penitent Brotherhood]).* Tinieblas is conducted on Holy Th ursday or on Good Friday and always after sunset in darkened...

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Chapter 12. Giving Thanks: Dando Gracias

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pp. 267-294

The apocalypse is considered the end in all perspectives of racial or cosmic immortality; at the apocalypse the entire world faces the judgment of eternity. In this final reflection, I present the themes of despair and transcendence as another facet of the ciclo de vida y muerte. I expand the dualistic metaphor of el ciclo de vida...

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Chapter 13. Final Thoughts: Pensamientos Últimos

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pp. 295-322

There are several goals in this chapter. One goal is to cover some of the main findings by linking them back to some basic ideas from phenomenology. Another goal is to connect some of what has been uncovered in the previous chapters to the work of others. In the latter part of the chapter some consideration is given...


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pp. 323-332


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pp. 333-350


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pp. 351-357

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781609173210
E-ISBN-10: 160917321X
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611860290
Print-ISBN-10: 1611860296

Page Count: 300
Illustrations: Line drawings
Publication Year: 2012