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Area and Ethnic Studies > American Studies > Hispanic American Studies

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Fulgencio Batista Cover

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Fulgencio Batista

Volume I, The Making of a Dictator, vol. 1

Frank Argote-Freyre

Pawn of the U.S. government. Right-hand man to the mob. Iron-fisted dictator. For decades, public understanding of the pre-Revolutionary Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista has been limited to these stereotypes, which barely scratch the surface of the complex and compelling career of this important political figure.

            Second only to Fidel Castro, Batista is the most controversial leader in modern Cuban history. And yet, until now, there has been no objective biography written about him. Existing biographical literature either borders on hero worship or launches a series of attacks aimed at rejecting his entire legacy.

            In this book, the first of two volumes, Frank Argote-Freyre provides a full and balanced portrait of this historically shadowed figure. Drawing on an extensive review of Cuban newspapers, government records, memos, oral history interviews, and a selection of Batista’s personal documents, Argote-Freyre moves beyond simplistic caricatures to uncover the real man—one with strengths and weaknesses and with a career marked by accomplishments as well as failures. 

            This volume focuses on Batista’s role as a revolutionary leader and his image as a “strongman” in the years between 1933 and 1939.  Through his study of Batista, the author is able to review an entire era that is frequently ignored by scholars—the Republican period of Cuban history. Bringing together global and local events, he considers the significance and relationship of the worldwide economic depression, the beginnings of World War II, the Cuban Revolution of 1933, the expansion of the Cuban middle class, and the nation’s gradual development of democratic institutions.

Fulgencio Batista and most of Cuba’s past prior to the Revolution of 1959 has been lost in the historical mists.  Cuba had a rich and fascinating history before the Marxist Revolution and the reign of Fidel Castro. This captivating and long-overdue book uncovers it.

Gender Violence at the U.S.-Mexico Border Cover

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Gender Violence at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Edited by Héctor Domínguez-Ruvalcaba and Ignacio Corona

The U.S.–Mexico border is frequently presented by contemporary media as a violent and dangerous place. But that is not a new perception. For decades the border has been constructed as a topographic metaphor for all forms of illegality, in which an ineffable link between space and violence is somehow assumed. The sociological and cultural implications of violence have recently emerged at the forefront of academic discussions about the border. And yet few studies have been devoted to one of its most disturbing manifestations: gender violence. This book analyzes this pervasive phenomenon, including the femicides in Ciudad Juárez that have come to exemplify, at least for the media, its most extreme manifestation.

Contributors to this volume propose that the study of gender-motivated violence requires interpretive and analytical strategies that draw on methods reaching across the divide between the social sciences and the humanities. Through such an interdisciplinary conversation, the book examines how such violence is (re)presented in oral narratives, newspaper reports, films and documentaries, novels, TV series, and legal discourse. It also examines the role that the media have played in this process, as well as the legal initiatives that might address this pressing social problem.

Together these essays offer a new perspective on the implications of, and connections between, gendered forms of violence and topics such as mechanisms of social violence, the micro-social effects of economic models, the asymmetries of power in local, national, and transnational configurations, and the particular rhetoric, aesthetics, and ethics of discourses that represent violence.

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Genocide as Social Practice

Reorganizing Society under the Nazis and Argentina's Military Juntas

by Daniel Feierstein, Translated by Douglas Andrew Town

Genocide not only annihilates people but also destroys and reorganizes social relations, using terror as a method. In Genocide as Social Practice, social scientist Daniel Feierstein looks at the policies of state-sponsored repression pursued by the Argentine military dictatorship against political opponents between 1976 and 1983 and those pursued by the Third Reich between 1933 and 1945. He finds similarities, not in the extent of the horror but in terms of the goals of the perpetrators.

The Nazis resorted to ruthless methods in part to stifle dissent but even more importantly to reorganize German society into a Volksgemeinschaft, or people’s community, in which racial solidarity would supposedly replace class struggle. The situation in Argentina echoes this. After seizing power in 1976, the Argentine military described its own program of forced disappearances, torture, and murder as a “process of national reorganization” aimed at remodeling society on “Western and Christian” lines.

For Feierstein, genocide can be considered a technology of power—a form of social engineering—that creates, destroys, or reorganizes relationships within a given society. It influences the ways in which different social groups construct their identity and the identity of others, thus shaping the way that groups interrelate. Feierstein establishes continuity between the “reorganizing genocide” first practiced by the Nazis in concentration camps and the more complex version—complex in terms of the symbolic and material closure of social relationships —later applied in Argentina. In conclusion, he speculates on how to construct a political culture capable of confronting and resisting these trends.

First published in Argentina, in Spanish, Genocide as Social Practice has since been translated into many languages, now including this English edition. The book provides a distinctive and valuable look at genocide through the lens of Latin America as well as Europe.

Guarding the Border Cover

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Guarding the Border

The Military Memoirs of the Ward Schrantz, 1912-1917

By Jeff Patrick

Ward Loren Schrantz, of Carthage, Missouri, entered the U.S. Army in 1912, at a time when military leaders were still seriously debating the future of the horse cavalry. He left active military service in 1946, after the United States dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. Schrantz served capably at a time when the U.S. military was undergoing rapid technological and strategic transformation and, as a journalist and attentive observer, left a vivid personal account of his time in the Army and Missouri National Guard.   Editor Jeff Patrick has woven three undated versions of Schrantz's memoir into a single narrative focused on the sparsely documented pre–World War I period from 1912 to 1917, thus helping to fill a significant gap in the existing literature. Schrantz's memoir is notable not only for the period it covers, but also for its lively evocation of a soldier's life during the U.S.-Mexico border disturbances of the early twentieth century. Schrantz's account demonstrates the perennial contrast between how soldiers were expected to behave and how they actually behaved; it offers colorful and authentic details not usually available from official histories. Patrick also has added an appendix consisting of the letters that Schrantz wrote for publication in his hometown newspaper, the Carthage Evening Press.   These documents yield interesting insights into the attitudes and dispositions of U.S. soldiers during this time, as well as the perceptions and opinions of the "folks back home." Students, scholars, and others interested in military and borderlands history will find much to enjoy in Guarding the Border: The Military Memoirs of Ward Schrantz, 1912–1917.

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Healing the Body Politic

El Salvador's Popular Struggle for Health Rights from Civil war to Neoliberal Peace

Sandy Smith-Nonini

Healing the Body Politic examines the contested place of health and development in El Salvador over the last two decades. It recounts the dramatic story of radical health activism from its origins in liberation theology and guerrilla medicine during the third-world country's twelve-year civil war, through development of a remarkable "popular health system," administered by lay providers in a former war zone controlled by leftist rebels. The ethnography contributes to the integration of medical and political anthropology by bringing the semiotics of health and the body to bear on cultural understandings of warfare, the state, and globalization.

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Hidden in the heartland

the new wave of immigrants and the challenge to America

Nancy Brown Diggs

As other teens returned home from school, thirteen-year-old José Silva headed for work at a restaurant, where he would remain until 2:00 a.m. Francisca Herrera, a tomato picker, was exposed to pesticides while she was pregnant and gave birth to a baby without arms or legs. Silva and Herrera immigrated illegally to the United States, and their experiences are far from unique. In this comprehensive, balanced overview of the immigration crisis, Nancy Brown Diggs examines the abusive, unethical conditions under which many immigrants work, and explores how what was once a border problem now extends throughout the country. Drawing from a wide spectrum of sources, Hidden in the Heartland demonstrates how the current situation is untenable for both illegal immigrants and American citizens. A vivid portrait of the immigration crisis, the book makes a passionate case for confronting this major human rights issue — a threat to the very unity of the country.

Hispanic Immigrant Literature Cover

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Hispanic Immigrant Literature

El Sueño del Retorno

By Nicolás Kanellos

The first comprehensive study of literary works created both orally and in writing by immigrants to the United States from the Hispanic world since the early nineteenth century.

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Home Girls: Chicana Literary Voices

"Home Girls makes an original, bold, and significant contribution to feminist studies, Chicana/o studies, and literature. Quintana accomplishes what few critics in Chicana/o studies have done: she applies different interpretive paradigms to her reading of Chicana texts, blending ethnography with literary criticism, ideological analysis with semiotics. Her reading of literary texts is rich in texture and detail." —Rosa Linda Fregoso, author of Bronze Screen: Chicana and Chicano Film Culture Chicana writers in the United States write to inspire social change, to challenge a patriarchal and homophobic culture, to redefine traditional gender roles, to influence the future. Alvina E. Quintana examines how Chicana writers engage literary convention through fiction, poetry, drama, and autobiography as a means of addressing these motives. Her analysis of the writings of Gloria Anzaldua, Ana Castillo, Denise Chavez, Sandra Cisneros, and Cherrie Moraga addresses a multitude of issues: the social and political forces that influenced the Chicana aesthetic; Chicana efforts to open a dialogue about the limitation of both Anglo-American feminism and Chicano nationalism; experimentations with content and form; the relationship between imaginative writing and self-reflexive ethnography; and performance, domesticity, and sexuality. Employing anthropological, feminist, historical, and literary sources, Quintana explores the continuity found among Chicanas writing across varied genres—a drive to write themselves into being.

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Homecoming Queers

Desire and Difference in Chicana Latina Cultural Production

Marivel T. Danielson

Homecoming Queers provides a critical discussion of the multiple strategies used by queer Latina authors and artists in the United States to challenge silence and invisibility within mainstream media, literary canons, and theater spaces. Marivel T. Danielson's analysis reveals the extensive legacy of these cultural artists, including novelists, filmmakers, students and activists, comedians, performers, and playwrights. By clearly discussing the complexities and universalities of ethnic, racial, sexual, gender, and class intersections between queer Chicana and U.S. Latinas, Danielson explores the multiple ways identity shapes and shades creative expression.

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How Did You Get To Be Mexican

This compelling account of racial identity takes a close look at the question "Who is a Latino?" and determines where persons of mixed Latino-Anglo heritage fit into the racial dynamics of the United States. The son of a Mexican American mother and an Anglo father, Kevin Johnson has spent his life in the borderlands between racial identities. In this insightful book, he uses his experiences as a mixed Latino-Anglo to examine issues of diversity, assimilation, race relations, and affirmative action in contemporary America.

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