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Fleshing the Spirit

Spirituality and Activism in Chicana, Latina, and Indigenous Women’s Lives

Edited by Elisa Facio and Irene Lara

Fleshing the Spirit brings together established and new writers exploring the relationships between the physical body, the spirit and spirituality, and social justice activism. Examining the complex and dynamic connections among these concepts, the writers emphasize the value of “flesh and blood experience” as a site of knowledge. They argue that spirituality—something quite different from institutional religious practice—can heal the mind/body split and set the stage for social change. Spirituality, they argue, is a necessary component of an alternative political agenda focused on equitable social and ecological change.

The anthology incorporates different genres of writing—such as poetry, testimonials, critical essays, and historical analysis—and stimulates the reader to engage spirituality in a critical, personal, and creative way. This interdisciplinary work is the first that attempts to theorize the radical interconnection between women of color, spirituality, and social activism. Before transformative political work can be done, the authors say in multiple ways, we must recognize that our spiritual need is a desire to more fully understand our relations with others. Conflict experienced on many levels sometimes severs those relations, separating us from others along racial, class, gender, sexual, national, or other socially constructed lines.

Fleshing the Spirit offers a spiritual journey of healing, health, and human revolution. The book’s open invitation to engage in critical dialogue and social activism—with the spirit and spirituality at the forefront—illuminates the way to social change and the ability to live in harmony with life’s universal energies.

Contributors

Volume Editors
Elisa Facio
Irene Lara
 
Chapter Authors
Angelita Borbón
Norma E. Cantú
Berenice Dimas
C. Alejandra Elenes
Alicia Enciso Litschi
Oliva M. Espín
Maria Figueroa
Patrisia Gonzales
Inés Hernández- Avila
Rosa María Hernández Juárez
Cinthya Martinez
Lara Medina
Felicia Montes
Sarahi Nuñez- Mejia
Laura E. Pérez
Brenda Sendejo
Inés Talamantez
Michelle Téllez
Beatriz Villegas

 

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Fray Angélico Chávez

Poet, Priest, and Artist

New Mexico's first Franciscan priest, Fray Angélico Cheavez (1910-1996) is known as a prolific historian, a literary and artistic figure, and an intellectual who played a vital role in Santa Fe's community of writers. The original essays collected here explore his wide-ranging cultural production: fiction, poetry, architectural restoration, journalism, genealogy, translation, and painting and drawing. Several essays discuss his approach to history, his archival research, and the way in which he re-centers ethnic identity in the prevalent Anglo-American master historical narrative. Others examine how he used fiction to bring history alive and combined visual and verbal elements to enhance his narratives. Two essays explore Chávez's profession as a friar. The collection ends with recollections by Thomas E. Chávez, historian and Fray Angélico's nephew. <br /> <br />Readers familiar with Chávez's work as well as those learning about it for the first time will find much that surprises and informs in these essays.

Part of the Pasó por Aquí Series on the Nuevomexicano Literary Heritage

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Friday Night Fighter

Gaspar "Indio" Ortega and the Golden Age of Television Boxing

Troy Rondinone

Friday Night Fighter relives a lost moment in American postwar history, when boxing ruled as one of the nation's most widely televised sports. During the 1950s and 1960s, viewers tuned in weekly, sometimes even daily, to watch widely-recognized fighters engage in primordial battle, with the Gillette Cavalcade of Sports Friday Night Fights being the most popular fight show. Troy Rondinone follows the dual narratives of the Friday Night Fights show and the individual story of Gaspar "Indio" Ortega, a boxer who appeared on primetime network television more than almost any other boxer in history. From humble beginnings growing up poor in Tijuana, Mexico, Ortega personified the phenomenon of postwar boxing at its greatest, appearing before audiences of millions to battle the biggest names of the time, such as Carmen Basilio, Tony DeMarco, Chico Vejar, Benny "Kid" Paret, Emile Griffith, Kid Gavilan, Florentino Fernandez, and Luis Manuel Rodriguez. Rondinone explores the factors contributing to the success of televised boxing, including the rise of television entertainment, the role of a "reality" blood sport, Cold War masculinity, changing attitudes toward race in America, and the influence of organized crime. At times evoking the drama and spectacle of the Friday Night Fights themselves, this volume is a lively examination of a time in history when Americans crowded around their sets to watch the main event.

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From Coveralls to Zoot Suits

The Lives of Mexican American Women on the World War II Home Front

Elizabeth R. Escobedo

During World War II, unprecedented employment avenues opened up for women and minorities in U.S. defense industries at the same time that massive population shifts and the war challenged Americans to rethink notions of race. At this extraordinary historical moment, Mexican American women found new means to exercise control over their lives in the home, workplace, and nation. In From Coveralls to Zoot Suits, Elizabeth R. Escobedo explores how, as war workers and volunteers, dance hostesses and zoot suiters, respectable young ladies and rebellious daughters, these young women used wartime conditions to serve the United States in its time of need and to pursue their own desires.
But even after the war, as Escobedo shows, Mexican American women had to continue challenging workplace inequities and confronting family and communal resistance to their broadening public presence. Highlighting seldom heard voices of the "Greatest Generation," Escobedo examines these contradictions within Mexican families and their communities, exploring the impact of youth culture, outside employment, and family relations on the lives of women whose home-front experiences and everyday life choices would fundamentally alter the history of a generation.

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From Scenarios to Networks

Performing the Intercultural in Colonial Mexico

Leo Cabranes-Grant

In this innovative study, Leo Cabranes-Grant analyzes four intercultural events in the Viceroyalty of New Spain that took place between 1566 and 1690. Rather than relying on racial labels to describe alterations of identity, Cabranes-Grant focuses on experimentation, rehearsal, and the interaction between bodies and objects. His analysis shows how scenarios are invested with affective qualities, which in turn enable cultural and semiotic change. Central to his argument is Bruno Latour’s Actor-Network Theory, which figures society as a constantly evolving web of relationships among objects, people, and spaces. In examining these scenarios, Cabranes-Grant attempts to discern the reasons why the conditions of an intensified moment within this ceaseless flow take on a particular value and inspire their re-creation. Cabranes-Grant offers a fresh perspective on Latour’s theory and reorients debates concerning history and historiography in the field of performance studies.

 

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From South Texas to the Nation

The Exploitation of Mexican Labor in the Twentieth Century

John Weber

In the early years of the twentieth century, newcomer farmers and migrant Mexicans forged a new world in South Texas. In just a decade, this vast region, previously considered too isolated and desolate for large-scale agriculture, became one of the United States' most lucrative farming regions and one of its worst places to work. By encouraging mass migration from Mexico, paying low wages, selectively enforcing immigration restrictions, toppling older political arrangements, and periodically immobilizing the workforce, growers created a system of labor controls unique in its levels of exploitation.

Ethnic Mexican residents of South Texas fought back by organizing and by leaving, migrating to destinations around the United States where employers eagerly hired them--and continued to exploit them. In From South Texas to the Nation, John Weber reinterprets the United States' record on human and labor rights. This important book illuminates the way in which South Texas pioneered the low-wage, insecure, migration-dependent labor system on which so many industries continue to depend.

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From the Barrio to Washington

An Educator's Journey

Armando Rodriguez as told to Keith Taylor

Rodriguez recalls his inspirational journey from a short child who was so dark he was nicknamed "Shadow" to being influential in shaping education on district, state, and national levels. Some still call him Shadow, though it is now spoken with respect and admiration for an immigrant who overcame many obstacles to become an instrument of change for his country.

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From the Edge

Chicana/o Border Literature and the Politics of Print

Allison E. Fagan

Chicana/o literature frequently depicts characters who exist in a vulnerable liminal space, living on the border between Mexican and American identities, and sometimes pushed to the edge by authorities who seek to restrict their freedom.  As this groundbreaking new study reveals, the books themselves have occupied similarly precarious positions, as Chicana/o literature has struggled for economic viability and visibility on the margins of the American publishing industry, while Chicana/o writers have grappled with editorial practices that compromise their creative autonomy. 
 
From the Edge reveals the tangled textual histories behind some of the most cherished works in the Chicana/o literary canon, tracing the negotiations between authors, editors, and publishers that determined how these books appeared in print. Allison Fagan demonstrates how the texts surrounding the authors’ words—from editorial prefaces to Spanish-language glossaries, from cover illustrations to reviewers’ blurbs—have crucially shaped the reception of Chicana/o literature. To gain an even richer perspective on the politics of print, she ultimately explores one more border space, studying the marks and remarks that readers have left in the margins of these books. 
 
From the Edge vividly demonstrates that to comprehend fully the roles that ethnicity, language, class, and gender play within Chicana/o literature, we must understand the material conditions that governed the production, publication, and reception of these works. By teaching us how to read the borders of the text, it demonstrates how we might perceive and preserve the faint traces of those on the margins. 
 

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Fulgencio Batista

The Making of a Dictator

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.

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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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