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A Land Between Waters Cover

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A Land Between Waters

Environmental Histories of Modern Mexico

Edited by Christopher R. Boyer

Mexico is one of the most ecologically diverse nations on the planet, with landscapes that range from rainforests to deserts and from small villages to the continent’s largest metropolis. Yet historians are only beginning to understand how people’s use of the land, extraction of its resources, and attempts to conserve it have shaped both the landscape and its inhabitants.

A Land Between Waters explores the relationship between the people and the environment in Mexico. It heralds the arrival of environmental history as a major area of study within the field of Mexican history. This volume brings together a dozen original works of environmental history by some of the foremost experts in Mexican environmental history from both the United States and Mexico.

The contributions collected in this seminal volume explore a wide array of topics, from the era of independence to the present day. Together they examine how humans have used, abused, and attended to nature in Mexico over more than two hundred years. Written in clear, accessible prose, A Land Between Waters showcases the breadth of Mexican environmental history in a way that defines the key topics in the field and suggests avenues for subsequent work. Most importantly, it assesses the impacts of environmental changes that Mexico has faced in the past with an eye to informing national debates about the challenges that the nation will face in the future.

Land Grab Cover

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Land Grab

Green Neoliberalism, Gender, and Garifuna Resistance in Honduras

Keri Vacanti Brondo

Land Grab is a rich ethnographic account of the relationship between identity politics, neoliberal development policy, and rights to resource management in Garifuna communities on the north coast of Honduras, before and after the 2009 coup d’état. The Garifuna are a people of African and Amerindian descent who were exiled to Honduras from the British colony of St. Vincent in 1797 and have long suffered from racial and cultural marginalization.

Employing approaches from feminist political ecology, critical race studies, and ethnic studies,Keri Vacanti Brondo illuminates three contemporary development paradoxes in Honduras: the recognition of the rights of indigenous people at the same time as Garifuna are being displaced in the name of development; the privileging of foreign research tourists in projects that promote ecotourism but result in restricting Garifuna from traditional livelihoods; and the contradictions in Garifuna land-rights claims based on native status when mestizos are reserving rights to resources as natives themselves.
 
Brondo’s book asks a larger question: can “freedom,” understood as well-being, be achieved under the structures of neoliberalism? Grounding this question in the context of Garifuna relationships to territorial control and self-determination, the author explores the “reregulation” of Garifuna land; “neoliberal conservation” strategies like ecotourism, research tourism, and“voluntourism;” the significant issue of who controls access to property and natural resources; and the rights of women, who have been harshly impacted by “development.” In her conclusion, Brondo points to hopeful signs in the emergence of transnational indigenous, environmental, and feminist organizations.

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Learning the Possible

Mexican American Students Moving from the Margins of Life to New Ways of Being

Reynaldo Reyes III

Learning the Possible demonstrates that it is truly possible for underprepared high school graduates to be successful in college. It chronicles the struggles and triumphs of five Mexican American students in their first year of college, aided by a one-year scholarship and support program called the College Assistance Migrant Program. CAMP, a federally funded program, is designed to help college students from migrant and/or economically disadvantaged families complete their first year of college. CAMP’s principal objective is to put students on a trajectory toward completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Laura, Christina, Luz, Maria, and Ruben, as the author calls them, had daunting challenges: difficulties with English, extremely low self-confidence, teenage motherhood, conflict between gender roles and personal desires, and a history of gang membership. Focusing on the importance of constructing a new identity as a successful student, Reynaldo Reyes III shares with readers the experiences of these marginalized students. Their stories, coupled with perspectives from instructors, CAMP staff and counselors, and the author’s own observations, illustrate the influence of past schooling, the persistence of culture, and the tensions and challenges inherent in developing a new identity.
This is a study of students who came from the margins and, in a very short time, moved toward the mainstream. In the micro view, it provides extraordinarily useful case studies of a successful intervention program in process. In the larger scope, it is a look at the socially constructed nature of possibility, hope, and success.
Learning the Possible demonstrates that it is truly possible for underprepared high school graduates to be successful in college. It chronicles the struggles and triumphs of five Mexican American students in their first year of college, aided by a one-year scholarship and support program called the College Assistance Migrant Program. CAMP, a federally funded program, is designed to help college students from migrant and/or economically disadvantaged families complete their first year of college. CAMP’s principal objective is to put students on a trajectory toward completion of a bachelor’s degree.
Laura, Christina, Luz, Maria, and Ruben, as the author calls them, had daunting challenges: difficulties with English, extremely low self-confidence, teenage motherhood, conflict between gender roles and personal desires, and a history of gang membership. Focusing on the importance of constructing a new identity as a successful student, Reynaldo Reyes III shares with readers the experiences of these marginalized students. Their stories, coupled with perspectives from instructors, CAMP staff and counselors, and the author’s own observations, illustrate the influence of past schooling, the persistence of culture, and the tensions and challenges inherent in developing a new identity.
This is a study of students who came from the margins and, in a very short time, moved toward the mainstream. In the micro view, it provides extraordinarily useful case studies of a successful intervention program in process. In the larger scope, it is a look at the socially constructed nature of possibility, hope, and success.

Leaving Mesa Verde Cover

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Leaving Mesa Verde

Peril and Change in the Thirteenth-Century Southwest

Timothy A. Kohler

It is one of the great mysteries in the archaeology of the Americas: the depopulation of the northern Southwest in the late thirteenth-century AD. Considering the numbers of people affected, the distances moved, the permanence of the departures, the severity of the surrounding conditions, and the human suffering and culture change that accompanied them, the abrupt conclusion to the farming way of life in this region is one of the greatest disruptions in recorded history.<br><br>Much new paleoenvironmental data, and a great deal of archaeological survey and excavation, permit the fifteen scientists represented here much greater precision in determining the timing of the depopulation, the number of people affected, and the ways in which northern Pueblo peoples coped--and failed to cope--with the rapidly changing environmental and demographic conditions they encountered throughout the 1200s. In addition, some of the scientists in this volume use models to provide insights into the processes behind the patterns they find, helping to narrow the range of plausible explanations.<br><br>What emerges from these investigations is a highly pertinent story of conflict and disruption as a result of climate change, environmental degradation, social rigidity, and conflict. Taken as a whole, these contributions recognize this era as having witnessed a competition between differing social and economic organizations, in which selective migration was considerably hastened by severe climatic, environmental, and social upheaval. Moreover, the chapters show that it is at least as true that emigration led to the collapse of the northern Southwest as it is that collapse led to emigration.

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Leaving Tulsa

Jennifer Elise Foerster

In her first magical collection of poetry, Jennifer Elise Foerster weaves together a mythic and geographic exploration of a woman’s coming of age in a dislocated time. Leaving Tulsa, a book of road elegies and laments, travels from Oklahoma to the edges of the American continent through landscapes at once stark and lush, ancient and apocalyptic. The imagery that cycles through the poems—fire, shell, highway, wing—gives the collection a rich lyrical-dramatic texture. Each poem builds on a theme of searching for a lost “self”—an “other” America—that crosses biblical, tribal, and ecological mythologies.

In Leaving Tulsa, Foerster is not afraid of the strange or of estrangement. The narrator occupies a space in between and navigates the offbeat experiences of a speaker that is of both Muscogee and European heritage. With bold images and candid language, Foerster challenges the perceptions of what it means to be Native, what it means to be a woman, and what it means to be an American today. Ultimately, these brave and luminous poems engage and shatter the boundaries of time, self, and continent.

Foerster’s journey transcends both geographic space and the confines of the page to live vividly in the mind of the reader.

In her first magical collection of poetry, Jennifer Elise Foerster weaves together a mythic and geographic exploration of a woman’s coming of age in a dislocated time. Leaving Tulsa, a book of road elegies and laments, travels from Oklahoma to the edges of the American continent through landscapes at once stark and lush, ancient and apocalyptic. The imagery that cycles through the poems—fire, shell, highway, wing—gives the collection a rich lyrical-dramatic texture. Each poem builds on a theme of searching for a lost “self”—an “other” America—that crosses biblical, tribal, and ecological mythologies.

In Leaving Tulsa, Foerster is not afraid of the strange or of estrangement. The narrator occupies a space in between and navigates the offbeat experiences of a speaker that is of both Muscogee and European heritage. With bold images and candid language, Foerster challenges the perceptions of what it means to be Native, what it means to be a woman, and what it means to be an American today. Ultimately, these brave and luminous poems engage and shatter the boundaries of time, self, and continent.

Foerster’s journey transcends both geographic space and the confines of the page to live vividly in the mind of the reader.

Lessons from a Quechua Strongwoman Cover

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Lessons from a Quechua Strongwoman

Ideophony, Dialogue and Perspective

By Janis B. Nuckolls

Using the intriguing stories and words of a Quechua-speaking woman named Luisa Cadena from the Pastaza Province of Ecuador, Janis B. Nuckolls reveals a complex language system in which ideophony, dialogue, and perspective are all at the core of cultural and grammatical communications among Amazonian Quechua speakers.

This book is a fascinating look at ideophones—words that communicate succinctly through imitative sound qualities. They are at the core of Quechua speakers’ discourse—both linguistic and cultural—because they allow agency and reaction to substances and entities as well as beings. Nuckolls shows that Luisa Cadena’s utterances give every individual, major or minor, a voice in her narrative. Sometimes as subtle as a barely felt movement or unintelligible sound, the language supports an amazingly wide variety of voices.

Cadena’s narratives and commentaries on everyday events reveal that sound imitation through ideophones, representations of dialogues between humans and nonhumans, and grammatical distinctions between a speaking self and an other are all part of a language system that allows for the possibility of shared affects, intentions, moral values, and meaningful, communicative interactions between humans and nonhumans.

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Life in the Hothouse

How a Living Planet Survives Climate Change

Melanie Lenart

In this insightful, compelling, and highly readable work, Melanie Lenart, an award-winning journalist and science writer who holds a PhD in Natural Resources and Global Change, examines global warming with the trained eye of a professional scientist. And she presents the science in a clear, straightforward manner. Why does the planet’s warming produce stronger hurricanes, rising seas, and larger floods? Simple, says Lenart. The Earth is just doing what comes naturally. Just as humans produce sweat to cool off on a hot day, the planet produces hurricanes, floods, wetlands, and forests to cool itself off.

Life in the Hothouse incorporates Lenart’s extensive knowledge of climate science—including the latest research in climate change—and the most current scientific theories, including Gaia theory, which holds that the Earth has some degree of climate control “built in.” As Lenart points out, scientists have been documenting stronger hurricanes and larger floods for many years. There is a good reason for this, she notes. Hurricanes help cool the ocean surface and clear the air of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. From the perspective of Gaia theory, these responses are helping to slow the ongoing global warming and Lenart expounds upon this in a clear and understandable fashion.

There is hope, Lenart writes. If we help sustain Earth's natural defense systems, including wetlands and forests, perhaps Mother Earth will no longer need to rely as much on the cooling effects of what we call "natural disasters"—many of which carry a human fingerprint. At a minimum, she argues, these systems can help us survive the heat.

Check out some recent interviews with Melanie Lenart!
<a href="http://www.ecoshock.org/downloads/climate_solutions/ES_Lenart.mp3" target ="new">EcoShock Radio (May 21, 2010)
<a href="http://www.progressivenewsradio.com/?p=39 target="new">Progressive News Radio Podcast (April 27, 2010)
<a href="http://tv.azpm.org/kuat/segments/2010/4/20/kuat-life-in-the-hothouse/" target="new">KUAT TV Arizona Public Media (April 20, 2010)
<a href="http://www.wgy.com/cc-common/mediaplayer/player.html?redir=yes&mps=don_weeks.php&mid=http://a1135.g.akamai.net/f/1135/18227/1h/cchannel.download.akamai.com/18227/podcast/ALBANY-NY/WGY-AM/lenart331.mp3?CPROG=PCAST?CCOMRRMID&CPROG=RICHMEDIA&MARKET=ALBANY-NY&#" target="new">Don Weeks Show (March 23, 2010)
<a href="http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=45481" target="new">Go Green Radio with Jill Buck (April 2, 2010)
<a href="http://www.voiceamerica.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=45516" target="new">Positive Living with Patricia Raskin (April 19, 2010)


For more details including news and reviews for this timely book, check out the <a href="http://www.u.arizona.edu/~mlenart/" target="new"> author's Web site!

Click <a href="http://www.uapress.arizona.edu/extras/Lenart/" target="new">here for source notes for this book.

The Life-Giving Stone Cover

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The Life-Giving Stone

ethnoarchaeology of Maya metates

By Micheal Searcy

In The Life-Giving Stone, Michael Searcy provides a thought-provoking ethnoarchaeological account of metate and mano manufacture, marketing, and use among Guatemalan Maya for whom these stone implements are still essential equipment in everyday life and diet.

Although many archaeologists have regarded these artifacts simply as common everyday tools and therefore unremarkable, Searcy’s methodology reveals how, for the ancient Maya, the manufacture and use of grinding stones significantly impacted their physical and economic welfare. In tracing the life cycle of these tools from production to discard for the modern Maya, Searcy discovers rich customs and traditions that indicate how metates and manos have continued to sustain life—not just literally, in terms of food, but also in terms of culture. His research is based on two years of fieldwork among three Mayan groups, in which he documented behaviors associated with these tools during their procurement, production, acquisition, use, discard, and re-use.

Searcy’s investigation documents traditional practices that are rapidly being lost or dramatically modified. In few instances will it be possible in the future to observe metates and manos as central elements in household provisioning or follow their path from hand-manufacture to market distribution and to intergenerational transmission. In this careful inquiry into the cultural significance of a simple tool, Searcy’s ethnographic observations are guided both by an interest in how grinding stone traditions have persisted and how they are changing today, and by the goal of enhancing the archaeological interpretation of these stones, which were so fundamental to pre-Hispanic agriculturalists with corn-based cuisines.

Looking Like the Enemy Cover

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Looking Like the Enemy

Japanese Mexicans, the Mexican State, and US Hegemony, 1897-1945

Jerry García

At the beginning of the twentieth century, thousands of Japanese citizens sought new opportunities abroad. By 1910, nearly ten thousand had settled in Mexico. Over time, they found work, put down roots, and raised families. But until now, very little has been written about their lives. Looking Like the Enemy is the first English-language history of the Japanese experience in Mexico.
 
Japanese citizens were initially lured to Mexico with promises of cheap and productive land in Chiapas. Many of the promises were false, and the immigrants were forced to fan out across the country, especially to the lands along the US border. As Jerry García reveals, they were victims of discrimination based on “difference,” but they also displayed “markers of whiteness” that linked them positively to Europeans and Americans, who were perceived as powerful and socially advanced. And, García reports, many Mexicans looked favorably on the Japanese as hardworking and family-centered.
 
The book delves deeply into the experiences of the Japanese on both sides of the border during World War II, illuminating the similarities and differences in their treatment. Although some Japanese Mexicans were eventually interned (at the urging of the US government), in general the fear and vitriol that Japanese Americans encountered never reached the same levels in Mexico.
 
Looking Like the Enemy is an ambitious study of a tumultuous half-century in Mexico. It is a significant contribution to our understanding of the immigrant experience in the Western Hemisphere and to the burgeoning field of borderlands studies.

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Mañana Means Heaven

Tim Z. Hernandez

In this love story of impossible odds, award-winning writer Tim Z. Hernandez weaves a rich and visionary portrait of Bea Franco, the real woman behind famed American author Jack Kerouac’s “The Mexican Girl.” Set against an ominous backdrop of California in the 1940s, deep in the agricultural heartland of the Great Central Valley, Mañana Means Heaven reveals the desperate circumstances that lead a married woman to an illicit affair with an aspiring young writer traveling across the United States.

When they meet, Franco is a migrant farmworker with two children and a failing marriage, living with poverty, violence, and the looming threat of deportation, while the “college boy” yearns to one day make a name for himself in the writing world. The significance of their romance poses vastly different possibilities and consequences.   

Mañana Means Heaven deftly combines fact and fiction to pull back the veil on one of literature’s most mysterious and evocative characters. Inspired by Franco’s love letters to Kerouac and Hernandez’s interviews with Franco, now in her nineties and living in relative obscurity, the novel brings this lost gem of a story out of the shadows and into the spotlight.

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