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The Making and Marketing of Oaxacan Wood Carvings
Since the mid-1980s, whimsical, brightly colored wood carvings from the Mexican state of Oaxaca have found their way into gift shops and private homes across the United States and Europe, as Western consumers seek to connect with the authenticity and tradition represented by indigenous folk arts. Ironically, however, the Oaxacan wood carvings are not a traditional folk art. Invented in the mid-twentieth century by non-Indian Mexican artisans for the tourist market, their appeal flows as much from intercultural miscommunication as from their intrinsic artistic merit. In this beautifully illustrated book, Michael Chibnik offers the first in-depth look at the international trade in Oaxacan wood carvings, including their history, production, marketing, and cultural representations. Drawing on interviews he conducted in the carving communities and among wholesalers, retailers, and consumers, he follows the entire production and consumption cycle, from the harvesting of copal wood to the final purchase of the finished piece. Along the way, he describes how and why this "invented tradition" has been promoted as a "Zapotec Indian" craft and explores its similarities with other local crafts with longer histories. He also fully discusses the effects on local communities of participating in the global market, concluding that the trade in Oaxacan wood carvings is an almost paradigmatic case study of globalization.
Tradition and Creativity
Why do people consider aesthetic qualities as well as utilitarian ones in the making of everyday objects? Why do they maintain traditions? What is the nature of their creative process? These are some of the larger questions addressed by Michael Owen Jones in his book on craftsmen in the Cumberland Mountains of eastern Kentucky. Concentrating on the work of one man, woodworker and chairmaker Chester Cornett, Jones not only describes the tools and techniques employed by Cornett but also his aspirations and values. Cornett possessed a deep knowledge of his materials and a mastery of construction methods. Some of his chairs represent not objects of utility but aesthetic developments of the chair form. Cornett sought to cope with the problems of his life, Jones maintains; their massiveness provided a sense of security, the virtuosity of their design and construction, a feeling of self-esteem. Jones also compares other area craftsmen and their views about their work.
Global in scope and multidisciplinary in approach, Creolization as Cultural Creativity explores the expressive forms and performances that come into being when cultures encounter one another. Creolization is presented as a powerful marker of identity in the postcolonial creole societies of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the southwest Indian Ocean region, as well as a universal process that can occur anywhere cultures come into contact.
An extraordinary number of cultures from Haiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, the southern United States, Trinidad and Tobago, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles, Réunion, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Suriname, Jamaica, and Sierra Leone are discussed in these essays.
Drawing from the disciplines of folklore, anthropology, ethnomusicology, literary studies, history, and material culture studies, essayists address theoretical dimensions of creolization and present in-depth field studies. Topics include adaptations of the Gombe drum over the course of its migration from Jamaica to West Africa; uses of "ritual piracy" involved in the appropriation of Catholic symbols by Puerto Rican brujos; the subversion of official culture and authority through playful and combative use of "creole talk" in Argentine literature and verbal arts; the mislabeling and trivialization ("toy blindness") of objects appropriated by African Americans in the American South; the strategic use of creole techniques among storytellers within the islands of the Indian Ocean; and the creolized character of New Orleans and its music. In the introductory essay the editors address both local and universal dimensions of creolization and argue for the centrality of its expressive manifestations for creolization scholarship.
William Sidney Mount and the Roots of Blackface Minstrelsy
This study examines the artworks, letters, sketchbooks, music collection, and biography of the painter William Sidney Mount (1807–1868) as a lens through which to see the multiethnic antebellum world that gave birth to blackface minstrelsy. Christopher J. Smith uses Mount's depictions of black and white vernacular fiddlers, banjo players, and dancers to open up fresh perspectives on cross-ethnic cultural transference in Northern and urban contexts, showing how rivers, waterfronts, and other sites of interracial interaction shaped musical practices by transporting musical culture from the South to the North and back. The "Africanization" of Anglo-Celtic tunes created minstrelsy's musical "creole synthesis," a body of melodic and rhythmic vocabularies, repertoires, tunes, and musical techniques that became the foundation of American popular music.
The contradance and quadrille, in their diverse forms, were the most popular, widespread, and important genres of creole Caribbean music and dance in the nineteenth century. Throughout the region they constituted sites for interaction of musicians and musical elements of different racial, social, and ethnic origins, and they became crucibles for the evolution of genres like the Cuban danzón and son, the Dominican merengue, and the Haitian mereng.
Creolizing Contradance in the Caribbean is the first book to explore this phenomenon in detail and with a pan-regional perspective. Individual chapters by respected area experts discuss the Spanish, French, and English-speaking Caribbean, covering musical and choreographic features, social dynamics, historical development and significance, placed in relation to the broader Caribbean historical context. This groundbreaking text fills a significant gap in studies of Caribbean cultural history and of social dance.
Autonomy and Representation in the University
Originating in the 1968 student-led strike at San Francisco State University, Asian American Studies was founded as a result of student and community protests that sought to make education more accessible and relevant. While members of the Asian American communities initially served on the departmental advisory boards, planning and developing areas of the curriculum, university pressures eventually dictated their expulsion. At that moment in history, the intellectual work of the field was split off from its relation to the community at large, giving rise to the entire problematic of representation in the academic sphere.
Even as the original objectives of the field have remained elusive, Asian American studies has nevertheless managed to establish itself in the university. Mark Chiang argues that the fundamental precondition of institutionalization within the university is the production of cultural capital, and that in the case of Asian American Studies (as well as other fields of minority studies), the accumulation of cultural capital has come primarily from the conversion of political capital. In this way, the definition of cultural capital becomes the primary terrain of political struggle in the university, and outlines the very conditions of possibility for political work within the academy. Beginning with the theoretical debates over identity politics and cultural nationalism, and working through the origins of ethnic studies in the Third World Strike, the formation of the Asian American literary field, and the Blu's Hanging controversy, The Cultural Capital of Asian American Studies articulates a new and innovative model of cultural and academic politics, illuminating the position of ethnic studies within the American university.
Space, Value, and Mobility Across the Neoliberal Americas
Culture Works addresses and critiques an important dimension of the “work of culture,” an argument made by enthusiasts of creative economies that culture contributes to the GDP, employment, social cohesion, and other forms of neoliberal development. While culture does make important contributions to national and urban economies, the incentives and benefits of participating in this economy are not distributed equally, due to restructuring that neoliberal policies have wrought from the 1980s on, as well as long-standing social structures, such as racism and classism, that breed inequality. The cultural economy promises to make life better, particularly in cities, but not everyone can take advantage of it for decent jobs.
Exposing and challenging the taken-for-granted assumptions around questions of space, value and mobility that are sustained by neoliberal treatments of culture, Culture Works explores some of the hierarchies of cultural workers that these engender, as they play out in a variety of settings, from shopping malls in Puerto Rico and art galleries in New York to tango tourism in Buenos Aires. Noted scholar Arlene Dávila brilliantly reveals how similar dynamics of space, value and mobility come to bear in each location, inspiring particular cultural politics that have repercussions that are both geographically specific, but also ultimately global in scope.
Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia
The rock era is over, according to one pop music expert. Another laments that rock music is "metamorphosed into the musical wallpaper of ten thousand lifts, hotel foyers, shopping centers, airport lounges, and television advertisements that await us in the 1990s." Whatever its current role and significance in Anglo-American society, popular music has been and remains a tremendous social and cultural force in many parts of the world. This book explores the connections between popular music genres and politics in Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.
As the father of the hardboiled detective genre, Dashiell Hammett had a huge influence on Hollywood. Yet, it is easy to forget how adaptable Hammett’s work was, fitting into a variety of genres and inspiring generations of filmmakers.