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Empire Cover

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Empire

Poems by Xochiquetzal Candelaria

Using both lyrical and narrative forms, these concise verses explore a family history set against the larger backdrop of Mexican history, immigration, and landscapes of the Southwest. The poet’s delicate touch lends these poems an organic quality that allows her to address both the personal and the political with equal grace. Straightforward without being simplistic or reductive, these poems manage to be intimate without seeming self-important.

This distinctive collection ranges from the frighteningly whimsical image of Cortés dancing gleefully around a cannon to the haunting and poignant discovery of a dead refugee boy seemingly buried within the poet herself. The blending of styles works to blur the lines between subjects, creating a textured narrative full of both imagination and nuance.

Ultimately, Empire situates individual experience in the wider social context, highlighting the power of poetry as song, performance, testimony, and witness. Addressing themes such as war, family, poverty, gender, race, and migration, Candelaria gives us a dialogue between historical and personal narratives, as well as discreet “conversations” between content and form.

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Encountering Life in the Universe

Ethical Foundations and Social Implications of Astrobiology

Edited by Chris Impey, Anna H. Spitz, and William Stoeger

Are we alone in the universe? Are the planets our playground to treat as we will, or do we have a responsibility to other creatures who may inhabit or use them? Do we have a right to dump trash in space or leave vehicles on Mars or the moon?  How should we interact with other life forms?

Encountering Life in the Universe examines the intersection of scientific research and society to further explore the ethics of how to behave in a universe where much is unknown. Taking contributions from notable experts in several fields, the editors skillfully introduce and develop a broad look at the moral questions facing humans on Earth and beyond.

Major advances in biology, biotechnology, and medicine create an urgency to ethical considerations in those fields. Astrobiology goes on to debate how we might behave as we explore new worlds, or create new life in the laboratory, or interact with extraterrestrial life forms. Stimulated by new technologies for scientific exploration on and off the Earth, astrobiology is establishing itself as a distinct scientific endeavor.

In what way can established philosophies provide guidance for the new frontiers opened by astrobiology research? Can the foundations of ethics and moral philosophy help answer questions about modifying other planets? Or about how to conduct experiments to create life in the lab or about? How to interact with organisms we might discover on another world?

While we wait for the first echo that might indicate life beyond Earth, astobiologists, along with  philosophers, theologians, artists, and the general public, are exploring how we might behave—even before we know for sure they are there. Encountering Life in the Universe is a remarkable resource for such philosophical challenges.

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Exoplanets

Edited by Sara Seager

For the first time in human history, we know for certain the existence of planets around other stars. Now the fastest-growing field in space science, the time is right for this fundamental source book on the topic which will lay the foundation for its continued growth.

Exoplanets serves as both an introduction for the non-specialist and a foundation for the techniques and equations used in exoplanet observation by those dedicated to the field.

Funding to make this important volume an affordable addition to anyone's library was provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Exploring Mars Cover

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Exploring Mars

Chronicles from a Decade of Discovery

By Scott Hubbard; Foreword by Bill Nye

The Red Planet has been a subject of fascination for humanity for thousands of years, becoming part of our folklore and popular culture. The most Earthlike of the planets in our solar system, Mars may have harbored some form of life in the past and may still possess an ecosystem in some underground refuge. The mysteries of this fourth planet from our Sun make it of central importance to NASA and its science goals for the twenty-first century.  

In the wake of the very public failures of the Mars Polar Lander and the Mars Climate Orbiter in 1999, NASA embarked on a complete reassessment of the Mars Program. Scott Hubbard was asked to lead this restructuring in 2000, becoming known as the "Mars Czar." His team's efforts resulted in a very successful decade-long series of missions--each building on the accomplishments of those before it--that adhered to the science adage "follow the water" when debating how to proceed. Hubbard's work created the Mars Odyssey mission, the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Phoenix mission, and most recently the planned launch of the Mars Science Laboratory

Now for the first time Scott Hubbard tells the complete story of how he fashioned this program, describing both the technical and political forces involved and bringing to life the national and international cast of characters engaged in this monumental endeavor.  Blending the exciting stories of the missions with the thrills of scientific discovery, Exploring Mars will intrigue anyone interested in the science, the engineering, or the policy of investigating other worlds.
 

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Flamenco Hips and Red Mud Feet

Poems by Dixie Salazar

“Duality” is at the center of Flamenco Hips and Red Mud Feet, a striking collection of poems both intimate and grand. The poet, Dixie Salazar, has spent a lifetime forging her own identity out of two cultures: “On one side was my father’s world: Spanish speaking from las montanas. On the other side was my mother’s world: a deep Southern drawl wafting from the magnolia and chinaberry trees.” As her poems reveal, she is a product of both cultures but not completely at home in either one.

In the two sections of the book—“Inside” and “Outside”—parallelism and symmetry interact with themes both public and private. Flamenco Hips and Red Mud Feet presents thirty-nine poems in free verse and traditional poetic forms, especially the sonnet and adaptations of the sonnet. The sonnet—usually consisting of the octet (eight lines) that sets up the main idea of the poem and the sestet (six lines) that resolves, answers or completes the poem—is a natural form for a poet whose identity is divided. Double sonnets and “double-linked sonnets doubled” reflect the duality the poet feels inside her skin. And the poems written to and for a “lost sister” reinforce the theme.

Throughout this provocative book, Salazar navigates the alienation of her cultural in-between-ness. By the end, she appears to become more comfortable with her status of “outsider,” deciding that she doesn’t need to give in to pressures to pick a side or to accept others’ ideas of where her own “borders” begin or end.

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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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Food Systems in an Unequal World

Pesticides, Vegetables, and Agrarian Capitalism in Costa Rica

Ryan E. Galt

Pesticides, a short-term aid for farmers, can often be harmful, undermining the long-term health of agriculture, ecosystems, and people. The United States and other industrialized countries import food from Costa Rica and other regions. To safeguard the public health, importers now regulate the level and types of pesticides used in the exporters’ food production, which creates “regulatory risk” for the export farmers. Although farmers respond to export regulations by trying to avoid illegal pesticide residues, the food produced for their domestic market lacks similar regulation, creating a double standard of pesticide use.

Food Systems in an Unequal World examines the agrochemical-dependent agriculture of Costa Rica and how its uneven regulation in export versus domestic markets affects Costa Rican vegetable farmers. Examining pesticide-dependent vegetable production within two food systems, the author shows that pesticide use is shaped by three main forces: agrarian capitalism, the governance of food systems throughout the commodity chain, and ecological dynamics driving local food production. Those processes produce unequal outcomes that disadvantage less powerful producers who have more limited choices than larger farmers, who usually have access to better growing environments and thereby can reduce pesticide use and production costs.
 
Despite the rise of alternative food networks, Galt says, persistent problems remain in the conventional food system, including widespread and intensive pesticide use. Facing domestic price squeezes, vegetable farmers in Costa Rica are more likely to supply the national market with produce containing residues of highly toxic pesticides, while using less toxic pesticides on exported vegetables. In seeking solutions, Galt argues for improved governance and research into alternative pest control but emphasizes the process must be rooted in farmers’ economic well-being.

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For Tranquility and Order

By Laura M. Shelton

On Mexico’s northwestern frontier, judicial conflicts unfolded against a backdrop of armed resistance and ethnic violence. In the face of Apache raids in the north and Yaqui and Mayo revolts in the south, domestic disputes involving children, wives, and servants were easily conflated with ethnic rebellion and “barbarous” threats. A wife’s adulterous liaison, a daughter’s elopement, or a nephew’s enraged assault shook the very foundation of what it meant to be civilized at a time when communities saw themselves under siege.

Laura Shelton has plumbed the legal archives of early Sonora to reveal the extent to which both court officials and quarreling relatives imagined connections between gender hierarchies and civilized order. As she describes how the region’s nascent legal system became the institution through which spouses, parents, children, employers, and servants settled disputes over everything from custody to assault to debt, she reveals how these daily encounters between men and women in the local courts contributed to the formation of republican governance on Mexico’s northwestern frontier.

Through an analysis of some 700 civil and criminal trial records—along with census data, military reports, church records, and other sources—Shelton describes how courtroom encounters were conditioned by an Iberian legal legacy; brutal ethnic violence; emerging liberal ideas about trade, citizenship, and property rights; and a growing recognition that honor—buenas costumbres—was dependent more on conduct than on bloodline. For Tranquility and Order offers new insight into a legal system too often characterized as inept as it provides a unique gender analysis of family relations on the frontier.

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Forced Marches

Soldiers and Military Caciques in Modern Mexico

Ben Fallaw

Forced Marches is a collection of innovative essays that analyze how the military experience molded Mexican citizens in the years between the initial war for independence in 1810 and the consolidation of the revolutionary order in the 1940s. The contributors—well-regarded scholars from the United States and the United Kingdom—offer fresh interpretations of the Mexican military, caciquismo, and the enduring pervasiveness of violence in Mexican society. Employing the approaches of the new military history, which emphasizes the relationships between the state, society, and the “official” militaries and “unofficial” militias, these provocative essays engage (and occasionally do battle with) recent scholarship on the early national period, the Reform, the Porfiriato, and the Revolution.

When Mexico first became a nation, its military and militias were two of the country’s few major institutions besides the Catholic Church. The army and local provincial militias functioned both as political pillars, providing institutional stability of a crude sort, and as springboards for the ambitions of individual officers. Military service provided upward social mobility, and it taught a variety of useful skills, such as mathematics and bookkeeping.

In the postcolonial era, however, militia units devoured state budgets, spending most of the national revenue and encouraging locales to incur debts to support them. Men with rifles provided the principal means for maintaining law and order, but they also constituted a breeding-ground for rowdiness and discontent. As these chapters make clear, understanding the history of state-making in Mexico requires coming to terms with its military past.

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Foundational Arts

Mural Painting and Missionary Theater in New Spain

Michael K. Schuessler

The languages of two hemispheres collided when Spain conquered Mexico, and as a result, a dynamic expression of visual and dramatic arts emerged. Mural painting and missionary theater quickly became the media  to explain and comprehend the encounter of indigenous peoples with Christ and the crucifixion, as well as with heaven and hell.

In Foundational Arts Michael K. Schuessler asserts that the literature of New Spain begins with missionary theater and its intimate relationship to mural painting. In particular, he examines the relationships between texts and visual images that emerged in Mexico at two Augustinian monasteries in Hidalgo, Mexico, during the century following the Spanish Conquest. The forced combination of the ideographical tradition of Nahuatl with Latin-based language alphabets led to a fascinating array of new cultural expressions.

Missionary theater was organized by ingenious friars with the intent to convert and catechize indigenous populations. Often performed in Nahuatl or other local languages, the actors combined Latin-based language texts with visual contexts that corresponded to indigenous ways of knowing: murals, architectural ornamentation, statuary, altars, and other modes of visual representation. By concentrating on the interrelationship between mural painting and missionary theater, Foundational Arts explores the artistic and ideological origins of Mexican plastic arts and literature.

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