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Behind the Mask

Gender Hybridity in a Zapotec Community

Alfredo Mirandé

The image of biologically male people dancing while dressed in the traditional, colorful attire of Zapotec, Juchiteca, females stands in sharp contrast to the prevailing view of Mexico as the land of charros, machismo, and unbridled ranchero masculinity. These indigenous people are called los muxes, and they are neither man nor woman, but rather a hybrid third gender.

After seeing a video of a muxe vela, or festival, sociologist Alfredo Mirandé was intrigued by the contradiction between Mexico’s patriarchal reputation and its warm acceptance of los muxes. Seeking to get past traditional Mexican masculinity, he presents us with Behind the Mask, which combines historical analysis, ethnographic field research, and interviews conducted with los muxes of Juchitán over a period of seven years. Mirandé observed community events, attended muxe velas, and interviewed both muxes and other Juchitán residents. Prefaced by an overview of the study methods and sample, the book challenges the ideology of a male-dominated Mexican society driven by the cult of machismo, featuring photos alongside four appendixes.

Delving into many aspects of their lives and culture, the author discusses how the muxes are perceived by others, how the muxes perceive themselves, and the acceptance of a third gender status among various North American indigenous groups. Mirandé compares traditional Mexicano/Latino conceptions of gender and sexuality to modern or Western object choice configurations. He concludes by proposing a new hybrid model for rethinking these seemingly contradictory and conflicting gender systems.

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Beliefs and Holy Places

A Spiritual Geography of the Pimería Alta

The region once known as Pimería Alta—now southern Arizona and northern Sonora—has for more than three centuries been a melting pot for the beliefs of native Tohono O'odham and immigrant Yaquis and those of colonizing Spaniards and Mexicans. One need look no further than the roadside crosses along desert highways or the diversity of local celebrations to sense the richness of this cultural commingling. Folklorist Jim Griffith has lived in the Pimería Alta for more than thirty years, visiting its holy places and attending its fiestas, and has uncovered a background of belief, tradition, and history lying beneath the surface of these cultural expressions. In Beliefs and Holy Places, he reveals some of the supernaturally sanctioned relationships that tie people to places within that region, describing the cultural and religious meanings of locations and showing how bonds between people and places have in turn created relationships between places, a spiritual geography undetectable on physical maps. Throughout the book, Griffith shows how culture moves from legend to art to belief to practice, all the while serving as a dynamic link between past and future. Now as the desert gives way to newcomers, Griffith's book offers visitors and residents alike a rare opportunity to share in these rich traditions.

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Beloved Land

An Oral History of Mexican Americans in Southern Arizona

Doña Ramona Benítez Franco was born in 1902 on her parents' Arizona ranch and celebrated her hundredth birthday with family and friends in 2002, still living in her family's century-old adobe house. Doña Ramona witnessed many changes in the intervening years, but her memories of the land and customs she knew as a child are indelible. For Doña Ramona as well as for countless generations of Mexican Americans, memories of rural life recall la querida tierra, the beloved land. Through good times and bad, the land provided sustenance. Today, many of those homesteads and ranches have succumbed to bulldozers that have brought housing projects and strip malls in their wake. Now a writer and a photographer who have long been intimately involved with Arizona's Hispanic community have preserved the voices and images of men and women who are descendants of pioneer ranching and farming families in southern Arizona. Ranging from Tucson to the San Rafael Valley and points in between, this book documents the contributions of Mexican American families whose history and culture are intertwined with the lifestyle of the contemporary Southwest. These were hardy, self-reliant pioneers who settled in what were then remote areas. Their stories tell of love affairs with the land and a way of life that is rapidly disappearing. Through oral histories and a captivating array of historic and contemporary photos, Beloved Land records a vibrant and resourceful way of life that has contributed so much to the region. Individuals like Doña Ramona tell stories about rural life, farming, ranching, and vaquero culture that enrich our knowledge of settlement, culinary practices, religious traditions, arts, and education of Hispanic settlers of Arizona. They talk frankly about how the land changed hands—not always by legal means—and tell how they feel about modern society and the disappearance of the rural lifestyle. "Our ranch homes and fields, our chapels and corrals may have been bulldozed by progress or renovated into spas and guest ranches that never whisper our ancestors' names," writes Patricia Preciado Martin. "The story of our beautiful and resilient heritage will never be silenced . . . as long as we always remember to run our fingers through the nourishing and nurturing soil of our history." Beloved Land works that soil as it revitalizes that history for the generations to come.

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Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch

Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

When Sadie Walela learns that her new neighbor in Cherokee Country, Angus Clyborn’s Buffalo Ranch, offers rich customers a chance to kill buffalo for fun, she is horrified. No good can surely come from this. It doesn’t, and murder soon follows.

Even though Deputy Sheriff Lance Smith, Sadie’s love interest, suspects a link to the Buffalo Ranch, he can find little evidence to make an arrest. And when a rare white buffalo calf is born on the ranch and immediately disappears, Sadie’s instincts tell her something is wrong—and she sets out to prove it. Her suspicions—and fears of more violence—escalate when a former schoolmate returns to Oklahoma to visit her ailing father and finds employment at the ranch. Will she be the next victim?

Drawn deeper and deeper into danger, Sadie uncovers an unparalleled web of greed and corruption. It will take all of her investigative skill to set things straight—assuming she and her wolfdog can stay alive long enough to succeed.

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Between the Andes and the Amazon

Language and Social Meaning in Bolivia

Anna M. Babel

Why can’t a Quechua speaker wear pants? Anna M. Babel uses this question to open an analysis of language and social structure at the border of eastern and western, highland and lowland Bolivia. Through an exploration of categories such as political affiliation, ethnic identity, style of dress, and history of migration, she describes the ways that people understand themselves and others as Quechua speakers, Spanish speakers, or something in between.
Between the Andes and the Amazon is ethnography in storytelling form, a rigorous yet sensitive exploration of how people understand themselves and others as members of social groups through the words and languages they use.
Drawing on fifteen years of ethnographic research, Babel offers a close examination of how people produce oppositions, even as they might position themselves “in between” those categories. These oppositions form the raw material of the social system that people accept as “normal” or “the way things are.” Meaning-making happens through language use and language play, Babel explains, and the practice of using Spanish versus Quechua is a claim to an identity or a social position. Babel gives personal perspectives on what it is like to live in this community, focusing on her own experiences and those of her key consultants. Between the Andes and the Amazon opens new ways of thinking about what it means to be a speaker of an indigenous or colonial language—or a mix of both.

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Between Two Fires

A Fire History of Contemporary America

Stephen J. Pyne

From a fire policy of prevention at all costs to today’s restored burning, Between Two Fires is America’s history channeled through the story of wildland fire management. Stephen J. Pyne tells of a fire revolution that began in the 1960s as simple suppression and then was replaced with more enlightened programs of fire management. It then explains the counterrevolution in the 1980s that stalled the movement, and finally describes the fire scene that has evolved since then.

Pyne is uniquely qualified to tell America’s fire story. The author of more than a score of books, he has told fire’s history in the United States, Australia, Canada, Europe, and the Earth overall. In his earlier life, he spent fifteen seasons with the North Rim Longshots at Grand Canyon National Park.

In Between Two Fires, Pyne recounts how, after the Great Fires of 1910, a policy of fire suppression spread from America’s founding corps of foresters into a national policy that manifested itself as a costly all-out war on fire. After fifty years of attempted fire suppression, a revolution in thinking led to a more pluralistic strategy for fire’s restoration. The revolution succeeded in displacing suppression as a sole strategy, but it has failed to fully integrate fire and land management and has fallen short of its goals.

Today, the nation’s backcountry and increasingly its exurban fringe are threatened by larger and more damaging burns, fire agencies are scrambling for funds, firefighters continue to die, and the country seems unable to come to grips with the fundamentals behind a rising tide of megafires. Pyne has once again constructed a history of record that will shape our next century of fire management. Between Two Fires is a story of ideas, institutions, and fires. It’s America’s story told through the nation’s flames.

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Beyond Alterity

Destabilizing the Indigenous Other in Mexico

Edited by Paula López Caballero and Ariadna Acevedo-Rodrigo; Afterword by Paul K. Eiss

The concept of “indigenous” has been entwined with notions of exoticism and alterity throughout Mexico’s history. In Beyond Alterity, authors from across disciplines question the persistent association between indigenous people and radical difference, and demonstrate that alterity is often the product of specific political contexts.

Although previous studies have usually focused on the most visible ­aspects of differences—cosmovision, language, customs, resistance—the contributors to this volume show that emphasizing difference prevents researchers from seeing all the social phenomena where alterity is not obvious. Those phenomena are equally or even more constitutive of social life and include property relations (especially individual or private ones), participation in national projects, and the use of national languages.

The category of “indigenous” has commonly been used as if it were an objective term referring to an already given social subject. Beyond Alterity shows how this usage overlooks the fact that the social markers of differentiation (language, race or ethnic group, phenotype) are historical and therefore unstable. In opposition to any reification of geographical, cultural, or social boundaries, this volume shows that people who (self-)identify as indigenous share a multitude of practices with the rest of society and that the association between indigenous identification and alterity is the product of a specific political history.

Beyond Alterity is essential reading for anyone interested in understanding indigenous identity, race, and Mexican history and politics.
Ariadna Acevedo-Rodrigo
Laura Cházaro
Michael T. Ducey
Paul K. Eiss
José Luis Escalona-Victoria
Vivette García Deister
Peter Guardino
Emilio Kourí
Paula López Caballero
Elsie Rockwell
Diana Lynn Schwartz
Gabriela Torres-Mazuera

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Beyond Chaco

Great Kiva Communities on the Mogollon Rim Frontier

Sarah A. Herr

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries A.D., the Mogollon Rim region of east-central Arizona was a frontier, situated beyond and between larger regional organizations such as Chaco, Hohokam, and Mimbres. On this southwestern edge of the Puebloan world, past settlement poses a contradiction to those who study it. Population density was low and land abundant, yet the region was overbuilt with great kivas, a form of community-level architecture. Using a frontier model to evaluate household, community, and regional data, Sarah Herr demonstrates that the archaeological patterns of the Mogollon Rim region were created by the flexible and creative behaviors of small-scale agriculturalists. These people lived in a land-rich and labor-poor environment in which expediency, mobility, and fluid social organization were the rule and rigid structures and normative behaviors the exception. Herr's research shows that the eleventh- and twelfth-century inhabitants of the Mogollon Rim region were recent migrants, probably from the southern portion of the Chacoan region. These early settlers built houses and ceremonial structures and made ceramic vessels that resembled those of their homeland, but their social and political organization was not the same as that of their ancestors. Mogollon Rim communities were shaped by the cultural backgrounds of migrants, by their liminal position on the political landscape, and by the unique processes associated with frontiers. As migrants moved from homeland to frontier, a reversal in the proportion of land to labor dramatically changed the social relations of production. Herr argues that when the context of production changes in this way, wealth-in-people becomes more valuable than material wealth, and social relationships and cultural symbols such as the great kiva must be reinterpreted accordingly. Beyond Chaco expands our knowledge of the prehistory of this region and contributes to our understanding of how ancestral communities were constituted in lower-population areas of the agrarian Southwest.

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Beyond Desert Walls

Essays from Prison

"From the upper bunk where I write, a narrow window allows me a southern exposure of the desert beyond this prison. Saguaro cacti, residents here long before this rude concrete pueblo, fill the upper part of my frame. If I could open the window and reach out across the razed ground, sand traps, and shining perimeter fence, I might touch their fluted sides, their glaucous and waxen skins." For some people, even prison cannot shut out the natural world.

A teacher and family man incarcerated in Arizona State Prison—the result of a transgression that would cost him a dozen years of his life—Ken Lamberton can see beyond his desert walls. In essays that focus on the natural history of the region and on his own personal experiences with desert places, the author of the Burroughs Medal-winning book Wilderness and Razor Wire takes readers along as he revisits the Southwest he knew when he was free, and as he makes an inner journey toward self-awareness. Whether considering the seemingly eternal cacti or the desolate beauty of the Pinacate, he draws on sharp powers of observation to re-create what lies beyond his six-by-eight cell and to contemplate the thoughts that haunt his mind as tenaciously as the kissing bugs that haunt his sleep.

Ranging from prehistoric ruins on the Colorado Plateau to the shores of the Sea of Cortez, these writings were begun before Wilderness and Razor Wire and serve as a prequel to it. They seamlessly interweave natural and personal history as Lamberton explores caves, canyons, and dry ponds, evoking the mysteries and rhythms of desert life that elude even the most careful observers. He offers new ways of thinking about how we relate to the natural world, and about the links between those relationships and the ones we forge with other people. With the assurance of a gifted writer, he seeks to make sense of his own place in life, crafting words to come to terms with an insanity of his own making, to look inside himself and understand his passions and flaws.

Whether considering rattlesnakes of the hellish summer desert or the fellow inmates of his own personal hell, Lamberton finds meaningful connections—to his crime and his place, to the people who remained in his life and those who didn't. But what he reveals in Beyond Desert Walls ultimately arises from language itself: a deep, and perhaps even frightening, understanding of a singular human nature.

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Beyond Germs

Native Depopulation in North America

Edited by Catherine M. Cameron, Paul Kelton, and Alan C. Swedlund

There is no question that European colonization introduced smallpox, measles, and other infectious diseases to the Americas, causing considerable harm and death to indigenous peoples. But though these diseases were devastating, their impact has been widely exaggerated. Warfare, enslavement, land expropriation, removals, erasure of identity, and other factors undermined Native populations. These factors worked in a deadly cabal with germs to cause epidemics, exacerbate mortality, and curtail population recovery.

Beyond Germs: Native Depopulation in North America challenges the “virgin soil” hypothesis that was used for decades to explain the decimation of the indigenous people of North America. This hypothesis argues that the massive depopulation of the New World was caused primarily by diseases brought by European colonists that infected Native populations lacking immunity to foreign pathogens. In Beyond Germs, contributors expertly argue that blaming germs lets Europeans off the hook for the enormous number of Native American deaths that occurred after 1492.

Archaeologists, anthropologists, and historians come together in this cutting-edge volume to report a wide variety of other factors in the decline in the indigenous population, including genocide, forced labor, and population dislocation. These factors led to what the editors describe in their introduction as “systemic structural violence” on the Native populations of North America.

While we may never know the full extent of Native depopulation during the colonial period because the evidence available for indigenous communities is notoriously slim and problematic, what is certain is that a generation of scholars has significantly overemphasized disease as the cause of depopulation and has downplayed the active role of Europeans in inciting wars, destroying livelihoods, and erasing identities.

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