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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Hispanic American Studies

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The Culture and Politics of Contemporary Street Gang Memoirs Cover

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The Culture and Politics of Contemporary Street Gang Memoirs

Josephine Metcalf

The publication of Sanyika Shakur's Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member in 1993 generated a huge amount of excitement in literary circles--New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani deemed it a "shocking and galvanic book"--and set off a new publishing trend of gang memoirs in the 1990s. The memoirs showcased tales of violent confrontation and territorial belonging but also offered many of the first journalistic and autobiographical accounts of the much-mythologized gang subculture.

In The Culture and Politics of Contemporary Street Gang Memoirs, Josephine Metcalf focuses on three of these memoirs--Shakur's Monster; Luis J. Rodriguez's Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.; and Stanley "Tookie" Williams's Blue Rage, Black Redemption--as key representatives of the gang autobiography. Metcalf examines the conflict among violence, thrilling sensationalism, and the authorial desire to instruct and warn competing within these works. The narrative arcs of the memoirs themselves rest on the process of conversion from brutal, young gang bangers to nonviolent, enlightened citizens.

Metcalf analyzes the emergence, production, marketing, and reception of gang memoirs. Through interviews with Rodriguez, Shakur, and Barbara Cottman Becnel (Williams's editor), Metcalf reveals both the writing and publishing processes. This book analyzes key narrative conventions, specifically how diction, dialogue, and narrative arcs shape the works. The book also explores how the memoirs are consumed. This interdisciplinary study--fusing literary criticism, sociology, ethnography, reader-response study, and editorial theory--brings scholarly attention to a popular, much-discussed, but understudied modern expression.

Curanderismo Cover

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Curanderismo

Mexican American Folk Healing

Robert T. Trotter II and Juan Antonio Chavira With a foreword by Luis D. Leon

The practice of curanderismo, or Mexican American folk medicine, is part of a historically and culturally important health care system deeply rooted in native Mexican healing techniques. This is the first book to describe the practice from an insider's point of view, based on the authors' three-year apprenticeships with curanderos (healers).

Robert T. Trotter and Juan Antonio Chavira present an intimate view of not only how curanderismo is practiced but also how it is learned and passed on as a healing tradition. By providing a better understanding of why curanderos continue to be in demand despite the lifesaving capabilities of modern medicine, this text will serve as an indispensable resource to health professionals who work within Mexican American communities, to students of transcultural medicine, and to urban ethnologists and medical anthropologists.

Curious Unions Cover

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Curious Unions

Mexican American Workers and Resistance in Oxnard, California, 1898-1961

Frank P. Barajas

César E. Chávez came to Oxnard, California, in 1958, twenty years after he lived briefly in the city as a child with his migrant farmworker family during the Great Depression. This time Chávez returned as the organizer of the Community Service Organization to support the unionization campaign of the United Packinghouse Workers of America. Together the two groups challenged the agricultural industry’s use of braceros (imported contract laborers) who displaced resident farmworkers.

The Mexican and Mexican American populations in Oxnard were involved in cultural struggles and negotiations long before Chávez led them in marches and active protests. Curious Unions explores the ways in which the Mexican community forged intriguing partnerships with other ethnic groups within Oxnard in the first half of the twentieth century and the resulting economic exchanges, cultural practices, and labor and community activism. Frank P. Barajas examines how the Oxnard ethnic Mexican population exercised its agency in alliance with other groups and organizations to meet their needs before large-scale protests and labor unions were engaged. Curious Unions charts how the cultural negotiations that took place in the Oxnard ethnic Mexican community helped shape and empower farm labor organizing.

The Daring Flight of My Pen Cover

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The Daring Flight of My Pen

Cultural Politics and Gaspar Pérez de Villagrά's Historia de la Nueva Mexico, 1610

Genaro M. Padilla

In this engaging study Genaro Padilla enters into Villagrá’s epic poem of the Oñate expedition to reveal that the soldier was no mere chronicler but that his writing offers a subtle critique of the empire whose expansion he seems to be celebrating. A close reading of the rhetorical subtleties in the poem, Padilla argues, reveals that Villagrá surreptitiously parodies the King and Viceroy for their failures of vision and effectively dismantles Oñate as the iconic figure he has become today. Padilla’s study is not simply a close reading of this challenging work; it is also a lucid critique of our modern engagement with foundational documents, cultural celebrations, and our awareness of our relationship with New Mexico’s complicated multicultural legacies.

Daughters and Granddaughters of Farmworkers Cover

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Daughters and Granddaughters of Farmworkers

Emerging from the Long Shadow of Farm Labor

Barbara Wells

In Daughters and Granddaughters of Farmworkers, Barbara Wells examines the work and family lives of Mexican American women in a community near the U.S.-Mexican border in California’s Imperial County. Decades earlier, their Mexican parents and grandparents had made the momentous decision to migrate to the United States as farmworkers. This book explores how that decision has worked out for these second- and third-generation Mexican Americans.Wells provides stories of the struggles, triumphs, and everyday experiences of these women. She analyzes their narratives on a broad canvas that includes the social structures that create the barriers, constraints, and opportunities that have shaped their lives. The women have constructed far more settled lives than the immigrant generation that followed the crops, but many struggle to provide adequately for their families.These women aspire to achieve the middle-class lives of the American Dream. But upward mobility is an elusive goal. The realities of life in a rural, agricultural border community strictly limit social mobility for these descendants of immigrant farm laborers. Reliance on family networks is a vital strategy for meeting the economic challenges they encounter. Wells illustrates clearly the ways in which the “long shadow” of farm work continues to permeate the lives and prospects of these women and their families.

Day of the Dead in the USA Cover

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Day of the Dead in the USA

The Migration and Transformation of a Cultural Phenomenon

Regina M. Marchi

The tribute, "el Dia de los Muertos," has become popular since the 1970s when Latino activists and artists in America began expanding "Day of the Dead" north of the border with public, and often artistic, expressions. Regina M. Marchi combines ethnography, historical research, oral history, and cultural analysis to explore the transformations that occur when the tradition is embraced by the mainstream. Day of the Dead in the USA provides insight into the power of ritual to create community, transmit oppositional messages, and advance educational, political, and economic goals.

Decoding Gender Cover

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Decoding Gender

Law and Practice in Contemporary Mexico

Helga Baitenmann, Victoria Chenaut, and Ann Varley

Gender discrimination pervades nearly all legal institutions and practices in Latin America. The deeper question is how this shapes broader relations of power. By examining the relationship between law and gender as it manifests itself in the Mexican legal system, the thirteen essays in this volume show how law is produced by, but also perpetuates, unequal power relations. At the same time, however, authors show how law is often malleable and can provide spaces for negotiation and redress. The contributors (including political scientists, sociologists, geographers, anthropologists, and economists) explore these issues-not only in courts, police stations, and prisons, but also in rural organizations, indigenous communities, and families.By bringing new interdisciplinary perspectives to issues such as the quality of citizenship and the rule of law in present-day Mexico, this book raises important issues for research on the relationship between law and gender more widely.

Defending Their Own in the Cold Cover

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Defending Their Own in the Cold

The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans

Marc Zimmerman

Defending Their Own in the Cold: The Cultural Turns of U.S. Puerto Ricans explores U.S. Puerto Rican culture in past and recent contexts. The book presents East Coast, Midwest, and Chicago cultural production while exploring Puerto Rican musical, film, artistic, and literary performance. Working within the theoretical frame of cultural, postcolonial, and diasporic studies, Marc Zimmerman relates the experience of Puerto Ricans to that of Chicanos and Cuban Americans, showing how even supposedly mainstream U.S. Puerto Ricans participate in a performative culture that embodies elements of possible cultural "Ricanstruction."_x000B__x000B_Defending Their Own in the Cold examines various dimensions of U.S. Puerto Rican artistic life, including relations with other ethnic groups and resistance to colonialism and cultural assimilation. To illustrate how Puerto Ricans have survived and created new identities and relations out of their colonized and diasporic circumstances, Zimmerman looks at the cultural examples of Latino entertainment stars such as Jennifer Lopez and Benicio del Toro, visual artists Juan Sanchez, Ramón Flores, and Elizam Escobar, as well as Nuyorican dancer turned Midwest poet Carmen Pursifull. The book includes a comprehensive chapter on the development of U.S. Puerto Rican literature and a pioneering essay on Chicago Puerto Rican writing. A final essay considers Cuban cultural attitudes towards Puerto Ricans in a testimonial narrative by Miguel Barnet and reaches conclusions about the past and future of U.S. Puerto Rican culture. Zimmerman offers his own "semi-outsider" point of reference as a Jewish American Latin Americanist who grew up near New York City, matured in California, went on to work with and teach Latinos in the Midwest, and eventually married a woman from a Puerto Rican family with island and U.S. roots.

Democratizing Texas Politics Cover

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Democratizing Texas Politics

Race, Identity, and Mexican American Empowerment, 1945-2002

By Benjamin Márquez

A senior scholar of Latino political action examines the intriguing incongruities in post–WWII Texas politics, particularly the curious flourishing of Latino leadership during the state’s simultaneous transition to conservatism.

Departing at Dawn Cover

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Departing at Dawn

Gloria Lise

Gloria Lisé's novel describes the neofascist military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-83) from an intimate point of view. It is a powerful portrait of Argentines caught up in the traumas that have haunted their country ever since. Lisé’s lyrical story revolves around Berta, who watches as her lover, a union organizer, is thrown from a balcony to his death the night before military dictator General Jorge Rafael Videla comes to power. Learning that she is on a list to be ‘disappeared,’ Berta flees to live with relatives in the countryside. She receives messages from her town, describing the violence of the junta, and when Berta discovers that government officials are still looking for her, she is forced into exile.

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