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Food Systems in an Unequal World Cover

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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.

For Tranquility and Order Cover

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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.

Forced Marches Cover

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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.

Foundational Arts Cover

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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.

From Enron to Evo Cover

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From Enron to Evo

Pipeline Politics, Global Environmentalism, and Indigenous Rights in Bolivia

Derrick Hindery

Throughout the Americas, a boom in oil, gas, and mining development has pushed the extractive frontier deeper into Indigenous territories. Centering on a long-term study of Enron and Shell’s Cuiabá pipeline, From Enron to Evo traces the struggles of Bolivia’s Indigenous peoples for self-determination over their lives and territories. In his analysis of their response to this encroaching development, author Derrick Hindery also sheds light on surprising similarities between neoliberal reform and the policies of the nation’s first Indigenous president, Evo Morales.

Drawing upon extensive interviews and document analysis, Hindery argues that many of the structural conditions created by neoliberal policies—including partial privatization of the oil and gas sector—still persist under Morales. Tactics employed by both Morales and his neoliberal predecessors utilize the rhetoric of environmental protection and Indigenous rights to justify oil, gas, mining, and road development in Indigenous territories and sensitive ecoregions.

Indigenous peoples, while mindful of gains made during Morales’s tenure, are increasingly dissatisfied with the administration’s development model, particularly when it infringes upon their right to self-determination. From Enron to Evo demonstrates their dynamic and pragmatic strategies to cope with development and adversity, while also advancing their own aims.

Offering a critique of both free-market piracy and the dilemmas of resource nationalism, this is a groundbreaking book for scholars, policy-makers, and advocates concerned with Indigenous politics, social movements, environmental justice, and resistance in an era of expanding resource development.

From This Wicked Patch of Dust Cover

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From This Wicked Patch of Dust

A Novel by Sergio Troncoso

In the border shantytown of Ysleta, Mexican immigrants Pilar and Cuauhtémoc Martínez strive to teach their four children to forsake the drugs and gangs of their neighborhood. The family’s hardscrabble origins are just the beginning of this sweeping new novel from Sergio Troncoso.

Spanning four decades, this is a story of a family’s struggle to become American and yet not be pulled apart by a maelstrom of cultural forces. As a young adult, daughter Julieta is disenchanted with Catholicism and converts to Islam. Youngest son Ismael, always the bookworm, is accepted to Harvard but feels out of place in the Northeast where he meets and marries a Jewish woman. The other boys—Marcos and Francisco—toil in their father’s old apartment buildings, serving as the cheap labor to fuel the family’s rise to the middle class. Over time, Francisco isolates himself in El Paso while Marcos eventually leaves to become a teacher, but then returns, struggling with a deep bitterness about his work and marriage. Through it all, Pilar clings to the idea of her family and tries to hold it together as her husband’s health begins to fail.

This backdrop is then shaken to its core by the historic events of 2001 in New York City. The aftermath sends shockwaves through this newly American family. Bitter conflicts erupt between siblings and the physical and cultural spaces between them threaten to tear them apart. Will their shared history and once-common dreams be enough to hold together a family from Ysleta, this wicked patch of dust?

Full Foreground Cover

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Full Foreground

Roberto Tejada

Poet Roberto Tejada uses lyrical poems to explore and give a voice to the troubles of global citizenship, US–Mexico relations, Latino identity, and the political emotion of queer sexualities. His collection provides a holistic ground-level view of pivotal world events from the mid 1990s to a more recent present.

Tejada’s innovative work dramatically widens the scope of Latina/o literature, showing us exactly what it can accomplish. The poems move very much like a three-act play, in which the first act is one of origins; the second, a staging of desire; and the third, a symbiosis. These acts magnify one another when unified. Each poem within the collection positions itself within the avant-garde, in which the artful use of language aims to dazzle, surprise, and enliven. The poems dance by, preserving a tension between hurry and delay, momentum and stasis, and every line is like a newly launched firecracker, sending out startling patterns of spark and flare.

Tejada’s exuberant language stretches the limits of selfhood and the way it is represented in poetry. He illuminates the tangled webs that are woven when identities are linked to sexuality, nationality, privilege, and temporality. The concerns and obsessions voiced here turn the construction of desire on its head, forcing us to ask ourselves what is worthy of our attentions.

Gender and Sustainability Cover

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Gender and Sustainability

Lessons from Asia and Latin America

Edited by Cruz-Torres, María Luz and McElwee, Pamela

This is one of the first books to address how gender plays a role in helping to achieve the sustainable use of natural resources. The contributions collected here deal with the struggles of women and men to negotiate such forces as global environmental change, economic development pressures, discrimination and stereotyping about the roles of women and men, and diminishing access to natural resources—not in the abstract but in everyday life. Contributors are concerned with the lived complexities of the relationship between gender and sustainability.

Bringing together case studies from Asia and Latin America, this valuable collection adds new knowledge to our understanding of the interplay between local and global processes. Organized broadly by three major issues—forests, water, and fisheries—the scholarship ranges widely: the gender dimensions of the illegal trade in wildlife in Vietnam; women and development issues along the Ganges River; the role of gender in sustainable fishing in the Philippines; women’s inclusion in community forestry in India; gender-based confrontations and resistance in Mexican fisheries; environmentalism and gender in Ecuador; and women’s roles in managing water scarcity in Bolivia and addressing sustainability in shrimp farming in the Mekong Delta.

Together these chapters show why gender issues are important for understanding how communities and populations deal daily with the challenges of globalization and environmental change. Through their rich ethnographic research, the contributors demonstrate that gender analysis offers useful insights into how a more sustainable world can be negotiated—one household and one community at a time.

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.

Gendered Scenarios of Revolution Cover

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Gendered Scenarios of Revolution

Making New Men and New Women in Nicaragua, 1975–2000

Rosario Montoya

In 1979, toward the end of the Cold War era, Nicaragua´s Sandinista movement emerged on the world stage claiming to represent a new form of socialism. Gendered Scenarios of Revolution is a historical ethnography of Sandinista state formation from the perspective of El Tule-a peasant village that was itself thrust onto a national and international stage as a "model" Sandinista community. This book follows the villagers´ story as they joined the Sandinista movement, performed revolution before a world audience, and grappled with the lessons of this experience in the neoliberal aftermath.

Employing an approach that combines political economy and cultural analysis, Montoya argues that the Sandinistas collapsed gender contradictions into class ones, and that as the Contra War exacerbated political and economic crises in the country, the Sandinistas increasingly ruled by mandate as vanguard party instead of creating the participatory democracy that they professed to work toward. In El Tule this meant that even though the Sandinistas created new roles and possibilities for women and men, over time they upheld pre-revolutionary patriarchal social structures. Yet in showing how the revolution created opportunities for Tuleños to assert their agency and advance their interests, even against the Sandinistas´ own interests, this book offers a reinterpretation of the revolution´s supposed failure.

Examining this community’s experience in the Sandinista and post-Sandinista periods offers perspective on both processes of revolutionary transformation and their legacies in the neoliberal era. Gendered Scenarios of Revolution will engage graduate and undergraduate students and scholars in anthropology, sociology, history, and women’s and gender studies, and appeal to anyone interested in modern revolution and its aftermath.

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