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Death and Dying in Colonial Spanish America Cover

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Death and Dying in Colonial Spanish America

Martina Will de Chaparro

When the Spanish colonized the Americas, they brought many cultural beliefs and practices with them, not the least of which involved death and dying. The essays in this volume explore the resulting intersections of cultures through recent scholarship related to death and dying in colonial Spanish America between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries. The authors address such important questions as: What were the relationships between the worlds of the living and the dead? How were these relationships sustained not just through religious dog-ma and rituals but also through everyday practices? How was unnatural death defined within different population strata? How did demo-graphic and cultural changes affect mourning?

The variety of sources uncovered in the authors’ original archival research suggests the wide diversity of topics and approaches they employ: Nahua annals, Spanish chronicles, Inquisition case records, documents on land disputes, sermons, images, and death registers. Geographically, the range of research focuses on the viceroyalties of New Spain, Peru, and New Granada.

The resulting records—both documentary and archaeological—offer us a variety of vantage points from which to view each of these cultural groups as they came into contact with others. Much less tied to modern national boundaries or old imperial ones, the many facets of the new historical research exploring the topic of death demonstrate that no attitudes or practices can be considered either “Western” or universal.

Debating American Identity Cover

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Debating American Identity

Southwestern Statehood and Mexican Immigration

Linda C. Noel

In the early 1900s, Teddy Roosevelt, New Mexico governors Miguel Antonio Otero and Octaviano Larrazolo, and Arizona legislator Carl Hayden—along with the voices of less well-known American women and men—promoted very different views on what being an American meant. Their writings and speeches contributed to definitions of American national identity during a tumultuous and dynamic era. At stake in these heated debates was the very meaning of what constituted an American, the political boundaries for the United States, and the legitimacy of cultural diversity in modern America.
    In Debating American Identity, Linda C. Noel examines several nation-defining events—the proposed statehood of Arizona and New Mexico, the creation of a temporary worker program during the First World War, immigration restriction in the 1920s, and the repatriation of immigrants in the early 1930s. Noel uncovers the differing ways in which Americans argued about how newcomers could fit within the nation-state, in terms of assimilation, pluralism, or marginalization, and the significance of class status, race, and culture in determining American identity.
    Noel shows not only how the definition of American was contested, but also how the economic and political power of people of Mexican descent, their desire to incorporate as Americans or not, and the demand for their territory or labor by other Americans played an important part in shaping decisions about statehood and national immigration policies. Debating American Identity skillfully shows how early twentieth century debates over statehood influenced later ones concerning immigration; in doing so, it resonates with current discussions, resulting in a well-timed look at twentieth century citizenship.

Deception on All Accounts Cover

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Deception on All Accounts

Is murder always a simple transaction? Don't bank on it.

Sadie Walela's life is about to be turned upside down.

One morning Sadie unlocks the door at the Mercury Savings Bank and confronts a robber who's been lying in wait for her and her fellow employees. He flees after stealing money and killing her coworker. When a whirlwind of events leaves Sadie herself under suspicion, she sets out to clear her name.

This banker turned sleuth is suddenly plunged into an unfamiliar world in which people are not always as they appear-not her employer, not the homeless man she's befriended, not the police officer who takes an interest in the case, not the man she falls in love with. And, as she's beginning to imagine, not even herself.

Sadie is a blue-eyed Cherokee living in northeastern Oklahoma, a half-blood who finds she sometimes has to adapt to get by in the white man's world, much as her father's ancestors did. In this story of robbery, murder, love, and intrigue, she faces adversity at each bend in the road, but in the tradition of her people she adapts and moves forward—even if it means having to re-think her relationships and expectations.

Set against the backdrop of small-town Oklahoma and its Native culture, Deception on All Accounts draws readers into the real lives of contemporary American Indians as it shines a light on violence, corporate corruption, and prejudice in modern America. As Sadie Walela comes to terms with murder, romance, and her hopes for a career, she finds deception on all accounts.

Decolonizing Indigenous Histories Cover

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Decolonizing Indigenous Histories

Exploring Prehistoric/Colonial Transitions in Archaeology

Maxine Oland

Decolonizing Indigenous Histories makes a vital contribution to the decolonization of archaeology by recasting colonialism within long-term indigenous histories. Showcasing case studies from Africa, Australia, Mesoamerica, and North and South America, this edited volume highlights the work of archaeologists who study indigenous peoples and histories at multiple scales.

The contributors explore how the inclusion of indigenous histories, and collaboration with contemporary communities and scholars across the subfields of anthropology, can reframe archaeologies of colonialism. The cross-cultural case studies employ a broad range of methodological strategies—archaeology, ethnohistory, archival research, oral histories, and descendant perspectives—to better appreciate processes of colonialism. The authors argue that these more complicated histories of colonialism contribute not only to understandings of past contexts but also to contemporary social justice projects.

In each chapter, authors move beyond an academic artifice of “prehistoric” and “colonial” and instead focus on longer sequences of indigenous histories to better understand colonial contexts. Throughout, each author explores and clarifies the complexities of indigenous daily practices that shape, and are shaped by, long-term indigenous and local histories by employing an array of theoretical tools, including theories of practice, agency, materiality, and temporality.

Included are larger integrative chapters by Kent Lightfoot and Patricia Rubertone, foremost North American colonialism scholars who argue that an expanded global perspective is essential to understanding processes of indigenous-colonial interactions and transitions.

Demigods on Speedway Cover

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Demigods on Speedway

Aurelie Sheehan

Men in dinosaur suits. A Norwegian freakazoid millionaire. Cats and catharsis, somber symbols, listless lives going off the rails. Pluck, persistence, and the pursuit of happiness.

In the tradition of Joyce’s Dubliners, Demigods on Speedway is a portrait of a city that reflects the recession-era Southwest. Inspired by tales from Greek mythology, these gritty heroes and heroines struggle to find their place in the cosmos. Each of these linked stories develops the extremes of the modern psyche: an executive struggling to understand his wife’s illness even as he compulsively cheats on her, a teenage runaway whose attraction to her “twin” is bound to fail, an overweight boy vicariously experiencing true love through the tales of his trainer, a car-wash attendant with outsized dreams of Hollywood.

Characters with mythical-sounding names like Dagfinn and Zero plot their courses through a sky riddled with flawed constellations. Sheehan’s edgy language aptly reveals her characters as they lurch toward the next day’s irreverent beginning. As the characters’ lives overlap, their stories carry mythology out of the past and into a very modern dilemma: the cumulative sense that here is a city with its own demigods, individuals struggling to survive under siege while passionately seeking to make something immortal in their lives.

Diné Perspectives Cover

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Diné Perspectives

Revitalizing and Reclaiming Navajo Thought

Edited by Lloyd L. Lee; Foreword by Gregory Cajete

What does it mean to be a Navajo (Diné) person today? What does it mean to “respect tradition”? How can a contemporary life be informed by the traditions of the past? These are the kinds of questions addressed by contributors to this unusual and pathbreaking book.
 
All of the contributors are coming to personal terms with a phrase that underpins the matrix of Diné culture: Sa’ah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózhóón. Often referred to simply as SNBH, the phrase can be translated in many ways but is generally understood to mean “one’s journey of striving to live a long, harmonious life.” The book offers a variety of perspectives of Diné men and women on the Diné cultural paradigm that is embedded in SNBH. Their writings represent embodied knowledge grounded in a way of knowing that connects thought, speech, experience, history, tradition, and land. Some of the contributors are scholars. Some are Diné who are fighting for justice and prosperity for the Navajo Nation. Some are poets and artists. They are united in working to preserve both intellectual and cultural sovereignty for Diné peoples. And their contributions exemplify how Indigenous peoples are creatively applying tools of decolonization and critical research to re-create Indigenous thought and culture in a present day that rarely resembles the days of their ancestors.
 
More than 300,000 people self-identify as Diné today. Every one must grapple with how to make a life that acknowledges Sa’ah Naagháí Bik’eh Hózhóón. Diné Perspectives is unique in bringing such personal journeys to the public eye.

Doing Good Cover

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Doing Good

Racial Tensions and Workplace Inequalities at a Community Clinic in El Nuevo South

Natalia Deeb-Sossa

Throughout the “New South,” relationships based on race, class, social status, gender, and citizenship are being upended by the recent influx of Latina/o residents. Doing Good examines these issues as they play out in the microcosm of a community health center in North Carolina that previously had served mostly African American clients but now serves predominantly Latina/o clients. Drawing on eighteen months of experience as a participant- observer in the clinic and in-depth interviews with clinic staff at all levels, Natalia Deeb-Sossa provides an informative and fascinating view of how changing demographics are profoundly affecting the new social order.
Deeb-Sossa argues persuasively that “moral identities” have been constructed by clinic staff. The high-status staff—nearly all of whom are white—see themselves as heroic workers. Mid- and lower-status Latina staff feel like they are guardians of people who are especially needy and deserving of protection. In contrast, the moral identity of African American staffers had previously been established in response to serving “their people.” Their response to the evolving clientele has been to create a self-image of superiority by characterizing Latina/o clients as “immoral,” “lazy,” “working the system,” having no regard for rules or discipline, and being irresponsible parents.
All of the health-care workers want to be seen as “doing good.” But they fail to see how, in constructing and maintaining their own moral identity in response to their personal views and stereotypes, they have come to treat each other and their clients in ways that contradict their ideals.
Throughout the “New South,” relationships based on race, class, social status, gender, and citizenship are being upended by the recent influx of Latina/o residents. Doing Good examines these issues as they play out in the microcosm of a community health center in North Carolina that previously had served mostly African American clients but now serves predominantly Latina/o clients. Drawing on eighteen months of experience as a participant- observer in the clinic and in-depth interviews with clinic staff at all levels, Natalia Deeb-Sossa provides an informative and fascinating view of how changing demographics are profoundly affecting the new social order.
Deeb-Sossa argues persuasively that “moral identities” have been constructed by clinic staff. The high-status staff—nearly all of whom are white—see themselves as heroic workers. Mid- and lower-status Latina staff feel like they are guardians of people who are especially needy and deserving of protection. In contrast, the moral identity of African American staffers had previously been established in response to serving “their people.” Their response to the evolving clientele has been to create a self-image of superiority by characterizing Latina/o clients as “immoral,” “lazy,” “working the system,” having no regard for rules or discipline, and being irresponsible parents.
All of the health-care workers want to be seen as “doing good.” But they fail to see how, in constructing and maintaining their own moral identity in response to their personal views and stereotypes, they have come to treat each other and their clients in ways that contradict their ideals.

Doubters and Dreamers Cover

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Doubters and Dreamers

Janice Gould

Doubters and Dreamers opens with a question from a young girl faced with the spectacle of Indian effigies lynched and burned “in jest” before UC Berkeley’s annual Big Game against Stanford: “What’s a debacle, Mom?” This innocent but telling question marks the girl’s entrée into the complicated knowledge of her heritage as a mixed-blood Native American of Koyangk’auwi (Concow) Maidu descent. The girl is a young Janice Gould, and the poems and narrations that follow constitute a remarkable work of sustained and courageous self-revelation, retracing the precarious emotional terrain of an adolescence shaped by a mother’s tough love and a growing consciousness of an ancestral and familial past.

In the first half of the book, “Tribal History,” Gould ingeniously repurposes the sonnet form to preserve the stories of her mother and aunt, who grew up when “muleback was the customary mode / of transport” and the “spirit world was present”—stories of “old ways” and places claimed in memory but lost in time. Elsewhere, she remembers her mother’s “ferocious, upright anger” and her unexpected tenderness (“Like a miracle, I was still her child”), culminating in the profound expression of loss that is the poem “Our Mother’s Death.”

In the second half of the book, “It Was Raining,” Gould tells of the years of lonely self-making and “unfulfilled dreams” as she comes to terms with what she has been told are her “crazy longings” as a lesbian: “It’s been hammered into me / that I’ll be spurned / by a ‘real woman,’ / the only kind I like.” The writing here commemorates old loves and relationships in language that mingles hope and despair, doubt and devotion, veering at times into dreamlike moments of consciousness. One poem and vignette at a time, Doubters and Dreamers explores what it means to be a mixed-blood Native American who grew up urban, lesbian, and middle class in the West.

Dragons in the Land of the Condor Cover

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Dragons in the Land of the Condor

Writing Tusán in Peru

Ignacio López-Calvo, Foreword by Eugenio Chang-Rodríguez

Building on his 2013 study on Nikkei cultural production in Peru, in Dragons in the Land of the Condor Ignacio López-Calvo studies the influence of a Chinese ethnic background in the writing of several twentieth- and twenty-first-century Sino-Peruvian authors.

While authors like Siu Kam Wen and Julia Wong often rely on their Chinese cultural heritage for inspiration, many others, like Pedro Zulen, Mario Wong, and Julio Villanueva Chang, choose other sources of inspiration and identification. López-Calvo studies the different strategies used by these writers to claim either their belonging in the Peruvian national project or their difference as a minority ethnic group within Peru. Whether defending the rights of indigenous Peruvians, revealing the intricacies of a life of self-exploitation among Chinese shopkeepers, exploring their identitarian dilemmas, or re-creating—beyond racial memory—life under the political violence in Lima of the 1980s, these authors provide their community with a voice and a collective agency, while concomitantly repositioning contemporary Peruvian culture as transnational.

López-Calvo bridges from his earlier study of Peruvian Nikkei’s testimonials and literature and raises this question: why are Chinese Peruvian authors seemingly more disconnected from their Asian heritage than Japanese Peruvian authors from theirs? The author argues that the Chinese arrival in Peru half a century earlier influenced a stronger identification with the criollo world. Yet he argues that this situation may soon be changing as the new geopolitical and economic influence of the People’s Republic of China in the world, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean, affects the way Chinese and Sino–Latin American communities and their cultures are produced and perceived.

Dry River Cover

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Dry River

By Ken Lamberton

Poet and writer Alison Deming once noted, “In the desert, one finds the way by tracing the aftermath of water . . . ”

Here, Ken Lamberton finds his way through a lifetime of exploring southern Arizona’s Santa Cruz River. This river—dry, still, and silent one moment, a thundering torrent of mud the next—serves as a reflection of the desert around it: a hint of water on parched sand, a path to redemption across a thirsty landscape.

With his latest book, Lamberton takes us on a trek across the land of three nations—the United States, Mexico, and the Tohono O’odham Nation—as he hikes the river’s path from its source and introduces us to people who draw identity from the river—dedicated professionals, hardworking locals, and the author’s own family. These people each have their own stories of the river and its effect on their lives, and their narratives add immeasurable richness and depth to Lamberton’s own astute observations and picturesque descriptions.

Unlike books that detail only the Santa Cruz’s decline, Dry River offers a more balanced, at times even optimistic, view of the river that ignites hope for reclamation and offers a call to action rather than indulging in despair and resignation. At once a fascinating cultural history lesson and an important reminder that learning from the past can help us fix what we have damaged, Dry River is both a story about the amazing complexity of this troubled desert waterway and a celebration of one man’s lifelong journey with the people and places touched by it.

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