"Chicano writers from El Paso are the most progressive, open-minded, far-reaching, and inclusive writers of them all."

Octavio Romano

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Sunday Press Spotlight: University of Arizona Press

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The University of Arizona Press is one of the main university presses at the forefront of publishing Chicano(a) writers today. I had the pleasure reviewing many of their books for the El Paso Times and other publications over the years.

Founded in 1959, the University of Arizona Press is a nonprofit publisher of scholarly and regional books. The press runs over 30 book series including The Mexican American Experience Series, Native American Peoples of the Americas, the Camino del Sol Series among other. (see other series). 

Just a note, that the Camino del Sol Series was first started under El Paso native Ray Gonzalez who we will be featuring this week in our El Paso Writer Spotlight. UAP has also publishes many scholarly titles.

This press published the first books of many Chicano(a) writers including El Paso natives Sergio Troncoso (The Last Tortilla and other stories) and Christine Granados (Brides and Sinners in El Chuco), Dixie Salazar (Bood Mysteries), El Paso native. They also published The Buried Sea: New and Selected Poems by the late Rane Arroyo. 

To see recent awards by UAP writers, including Ray Gonzalez, Marjorie Agosin,  and the late Jose Antonio Burciaga, click here.

It would be difficult to name all the books and Latino(a) and Chicana(o) writers published by UAP. Many are featured in Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing which is Rigoberto Gonzalez.

Recent and Forthcoming Releases from UAP

Each and Her 
(Camino Del Sol Series) [Paperback]
University of Arizona Press (August 3, 2010)ISBN-10: 0816528594
Valerie Martínez

In 2004,  twenty-eight women and young girls were murdered in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and the surrounding areas. 

The tragedy escalated to fifty-eight murders in 2006, then again to eighty-six in 2008, and current estimates top four hundred deaths. 

Now poet Valerie Martinez offers a poetic exploration of these events, pushing boundaries -- stylistically and artistically -- with vivid poems that contextualize femicide.

Martinez departs from traditional narrative to reveal the hidden effects and outcomes of the horrific and heart-wrenching cases of femicide. 

These poems -- lyric fragments and prose passages that form a collage -- have an intricate relation to one another, creating a complex literary quilt that feels like it can be read from the beginning, the end, or anywhere in between. 

Martinez is personally invested in the topic, evoking the loss of her sister, and Each and Her emerges as a biography of sorts and a compelling homage to all those who have suffered. 

Other authors may elaborate on or investigate this topic, but Martinez humanizes it by including names, quotations, realistic details, and stark imagery.

The women of Cd. Juarez, like other women around the world, are ravaged by inequality, discontinuity, politics, and economic plagues that contribute to gender violence. 

Martinez offers us a poignant and alarming glance into another world with these never-before-told stories. Her refreshing and explosive voice will keep readers transfixed and intrigued about these events and emotions -- removed from us and yet so close to the heart.

Bring Down the Little Birds 
(Camino Del Sol Series) [Paperback]
University of Arizona Press (August 5, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0816528691
Carmen Giménez Smith (Author)
How does a contemporary woman with a career as a poet, professor, and editor experience motherhood with one small child, another soon to be born, and her own mother suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and Alzheimer's? 

The dichotomy between life as a mother and life as an artist and professional is a major theme in modern literature because often the two seem irreconcilable.

In Bring Down the Little Birds, Carmen Gimenez Smith faces this seeming irreconcilability head-on, offering a powerful and necessary lyric memoir to shed light on the difficulties -- and joys -- of being a mother juggling work, art, raising children, pregnancy, and being a daughter to an ailing mother, and, perhaps most important, offering a rigorous and intensely imaginative contemplation on the concept of motherhood as such.

Writing in fragmented yet coherent sections, the author shares with us her interior monologue, affording the reader a uniquely honest, insightful, and deeply personal glimpse into a woman's first and second journeys into motherhood. 

Gimenez Smith begins Bring Down the Little Birds by detailing the relationship with her own mother, from whom her own concept of motherhood originated, a conception the author continually reevaluates and questions over the course of the book.

Combining fragments of thought, daydreams, entries from notebooks both real and imaginary, and real-life experiences, Gimenez Smith interrogates everything involved in becoming and being a mother for both the first and second time, from wondering what her children will one day know about her own "secret life" to meditations on the physical effects of pregnancy as well as the myths, the nostalgia, and the glorification of motherhood.

The Ópatas: In Search of a Sonoran People 
(Southwest Center Series) [Paperback]
University of Arizona Press (Forthcoming: October 8, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0816528977
David A. Yetman

In 1600 they were the largest, most technologically advanced indigenous group in northwest Mexico, but today, though their descendants presumably live on in Sonora, almost no one claims descent from the Optas. 

The Opatas seem to have "disappeared" as an ethnic group, their languages forgotten except for the names of the towns, plants, and geography of the Opatera, where they lived. Why did the Opatas disappear from the historical record while their neighbors survived?

David Yetman, a leading ethnobotanist who has traveled extensively in Sonora, consulted more than two hundred archival sources to answer this question. 

The result is an accessible ethnohistory of the Opatas, one that embraces historical complexity with an eye toward Opatan strategies of resistance and assimilation. 

Yetman's account takes us through the Opatans' initial encounters with the conquistadors, their resettlement in Jesuit missions, clashes with Apaches, their recruitment as miners, and several failed rebellions, and ultimately arrives at an explanation for their "disappearance."

Yetman's account is bolstered by conversations with present-day residents of the Opatera and includes a valuable appendix on the languages of the Opatera by linguistic anthropologist David Shaul. 

One of the few studies devoted exclusively to this indigenous group, The Opatas: In Search of a Sonoran People marks a significant contribution to the literature on the history of the greater Southwest.

The Permit that Never Expires: Migrant Tales from the Ozark Hills and the Mexican Highlands 
[Paperback] University of Arizona Press (December 23, 2009)ISBN-10: 0816528314
Philip Garrison 

Philip Garrison keeps his eyes and ears open. And he also keeps an open mind. It helps that he’s bilingual, because a lot of his neighbors these days speak Spanish and he likes to know what’s on their minds. 

Like his epileptic friend Pera, who asks him to write a note in English to explain to her supervisor that she probably shouldn’t be cooking on a grill in case she has a seizure and falls into the flames. 

When Garrison asks her if she has a work permit, she replies,“Bueno. El que nunca vence.” The kind that never expires. That’s the sort of response he doesn’t forget.

There is a river, Garrison writes, that runs from Oaxaca to British Columbia. El flujo migratorio, he calls it. The migratory flow. But it isn’t a conventional sort of river. “It is made of neither rock nor water nor wind but only of motion, of momentum. And yet . . . it is the most compelling feature in the entire U.S. West,” he claims. Garrison has his feet planted firmly in the middle of this river of humanity, wondering why America is trying to build a wall along an actual river, the Rio Grande, to keep us separated from the mxicanos. (sic)

All borders, he writes, exist mostly in the imagination — a point he proves decisively in this delightful book.

Garrison is an award-winning writer and this book shows why. Warm, witty, self-deprecating, and charming (the list could go on), this collection illuminates the lives of these migrants, whether at the local food bank in Ellensburg, Washington, in the streets of Michoacán, or everywhere in between.

Populism in Twentieth Century Mexico: The Presidencies of Lázaro Cárdenas and Luis Echeverría
[Hardcover] University of Arizona Press (September 15, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0816529183
Amelia M. Kiddle (Editor), María L. O. Muñoz (Editor), Cuauhtémoc. Cárdenas (Foreword)

Mexican presidents Lazaro Cárdenas (1934-1940) and Luis Echeverria (1970-1976) used populist politics in an effort to obtain broad-based popular support for their presidential goals. 

In spite of differences in administrative plans, both aimed to close political divisions within society, extend government programs to those on the margins of national life, and prevent foreign ideologies and practices from disrupting domestic politics. 

As different as they were in political style, both relied on appealing to the public through mass media, clothing styles, and music.

This volume brings together twelve original essays that explore the concept of populism in 20th-century Mexico. 

Contributors analyze the presidencies of two of the century's most clearly populist figures, evaluating them against each other and in light of other Latin American and Mexican populist leaders. 

In order to examine both positive and negative effects of populist political styles, contributors also show how groups as diverse as wild yam pickers in 1970s Oaxaca and intellectuals in 1930s Mexico City had access to and affected government projects.

The chapters on the Echeverria presidency are written by contributors at the forefront of emerging scholarship on this topic and demonstrate new approaches to this critical period in Mexican history. 

Through comparisons to Echeverria, contributors also shed new light on the Cardenas presidency, suggesting fresh areas of investigation into the work of Mexico's quintessentially populist leader. Ranging in approach from environmental history to labor history, the essays in this volume present a complex picture of twentieth century populism in Mexico. 

La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City
[Paperback] University of Arizona Press (October 6, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0816528888
Lydia R. Otero
On March 1, 1966, the voters of Tucson approved the Pueblo Center Redevelopment Project -- Arizona's first major urban renewal project -- which targeted the most densely populated 80 acres in the state. 

For close to one hundred years, tucsonenses had created their own spatial reality in the historical, predominantly Mexican American heart of the city, an area most called "la calle." 

Here, amid small retail and service shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, they openly lived and celebrated their culture. 

To make way for the Pueblo Center's new buildings, city officials proceeded to displace la calle's residents and to demolish their ethnically diverse neighborhoods, which, contends Lydia Otero, challenged the spatial and cultural assumptions of postwar modernity, suburbia, and urban planning.

Otero examines conflicting claims to urban space, place, and history as advanced by two opposing historic preservationist groups: the La Placita Committee and the Tucson Heritage Foundation. 

She gives voice to those who lived in, experienced, or remembered this contested area, and analyzes the historical narratives promoted by Anglo-American elites in the service of tourism and cultural dominance.

La Calle explores the forces behind the mass displacement: an unrelenting desire for order, a local economy increasingly dependent on tourism, and the pivotal power of federal housing policies. 

To understand how urban renewal resulted in the spatial reconfiguration of downtown Tucson, Otero draws on scholarship from a wide range of disciplines: Chicana/o, ethnic, and cultural studies; urban history, sociology, and anthropology; city planning; and cultural and feminist geography. 

Indigenous Writings from the Convent: Negotiating Ethnic Autonomy in Colonial Mexico
(First Peoples: New Directions in Indigenous Studies)
[Hardcover] University of Arizona Press (September 8, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0816528535
Mónica Díaz

Sometime in the 1740s, Sor Maria Magdalena, an indigenous noblewoman living in one of only three convents in New Spain that allowed Indians to profess as nuns, sent a letter to Father Juan de Altamirano to ask for his help in getting church prelates to exclude Creole and Spanish women from convents intended for indigenous nuns only. 

Drawing on this and other such letters -- as well as biographies, sermons, and other texts -- Monica Diaz argues that the survival of indigenous ethnic identity was effectively served by this class of noble indigenous nuns.

While colonial sources that refer to indigenous women are not scant, documents in which women emerge as agents who actively participate in shaping their own identity are rare. 

Looking at this minority agency -- or subaltern voice--in various religious discourses exposes some central themes. It shows that an indigenous identity recast in Catholic terms was able to be effectively recorded and that the religious participation of these women at a time when indigenous parishes were increasingly secularized lent cohesion to that identity.

Indigenous Writings from the Convent examines ways in which indigenous women participated in one of the most prominent institutions in colonial times -- the Catholic Church -- and what they made of their experience with convent life. 

This book will appeal to scholars of literary criticism, women's studies, and colonial history, and to anyone interested in the ways that class, race, and gender intersected in the colonial world.

The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940
University of Arizona Press (July 22, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0816527725
Robert Chao Romero

An estimated 60,000 Chinese entered Mexico during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, constituting Mexico's second-largest foreign ethnic community at the time. 

The Chinese in Mexico provides a social history of Chinese immigration to and settlement in Mexico in the context of the global Chinese diaspora of the era.

Robert Romero argues that Chinese immigrants turned to Mexico as a new land of economic opportunity after the passage of the U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. 

As a consequence of this legislation, Romero claims, Chinese immigrants journeyed to Mexico in order to gain illicit entry into the United States and in search of employment opportunities within Mexico's developing economy. 

Romero details the development, after 1882, of the "Chinese transnational commercial orbit," a network encompassing China, Latin America, Canada, and the Caribbean, shaped and traveled by entrepreneurial Chinese pursuing commercial opportunities in human smuggling, labor contracting, wholesale merchandising, and small-scale trade.

Romero's study is based on a wide array of Mexican and U.S. archival sources. It draws from such quantitative and qualitative sources as oral histories, census records, consular reports, INS interviews, and legal documents. 

Two sources, used for the first time in this kind of study, provide a comprehensive sociological and historical window into the lives of Chinese immigrants in Mexico during these years: the Chinese Exclusion Act case files of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service and the 1930 Mexican municipal census manuscripts. From these documents, Romero crafts a vividly personal and compelling story of individual lives caught in an extensive network of early trans-nationalism.


This week: Lunes con Lalo, Ray Gonzalez spotlight, Pain of Writing (yea I'm still working on this one).

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