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

Octavio Romano

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Tommy Stands Alone - Banned Book #4 and New Books in September - South American Topics


Banned Chicana Book # 4: 
Tommy Stands Alone
YA novel of sexual confusion too much for some 

Tommy Stands Alone (Arte Publico Press), Gloria Velasquez' 1995 novel for ages 6-9? has gained disdain of book banners in its 15-year existence.

Book Description:

Grade 6-9?Tommy, a Chicano teen, is uncomfortable with the attention girls shower on him and wants to avoid his friends. When Rudy and Tyrone find a note written to him from David the joto (queer), Tommy can't take it anymore. He buys a bottle of vodka, steals some pills from his family's medicine cabinet, and attempts to kill himself. Maya, his best friend, calls on Ms. Martinez, a counselor, to guide him through this crisis.

Although Tommy needs assistance, he is reluctant to come to terms with the fact that he is gay. Maya finally confronts him and forces him to deal with the situation. Once he does, the knowledge that there is hope comes very slowly at first, for he needs to open up to his family and, more importantly, to himself. Velasquez writes with clarity about the pain and suffering that the characters experience. But the message of getting help is overly stressed throughout?readers will feel deluged with advice. And while the advice is sound, the story is just too heavy-handed for YAs to take seriously.?
                                    -Jana R. Fine, Clearwater Public Library System, FL
                                        Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. 

Nevertheless, in Velasquez native state, Colorado, in Longmont where the school district banned the book. Part of Velasquez' Roosevelt High School Series which focuses on a group of multicultural students.

It rare that Tommy Stands Alone is left off of lists by conservative groups, list for parents to check if these book are available in their school districts so they can be removed (see this list by the Minnesota Family Council). Some of these group recommend people fight school district rules that would prevent violence against gays (see Mission America).

"Parents should already be discussing issues on race, the Holocaust; students need to be aware of what's going on," Velasquez said in an interview with the Mustang Daily of Cal Poly University.

Recently Velasquez,released another children's bilingual cd with baby y itunes and as shes ways "tiene una canción política para nuestros chavalitos "Atzi en Atzlán" that mentions Cesar y Dolores (you can hear it on her website: gloriavelasquez.com.

Gloria Velasquez most recent addition to the Roosevelt High School Series is Rudy's Memory Walk.



The Cambridge Companion to Gabriel Garciá Márquez
(Cambridge Companions to Literature) [Paperback]
Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (August 31, 2010) ISBN-10: 0521687101
Philip Swanson (Editor)

Gabriel García Márquez is Latin America's most internationally famous and successful author, and a winner of the Nobel Prize. His oeuvre of great modern novels includes One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera.

His name has become closely associated with Magical Realism, a phenomenon that has been immensely influential in world literature. This Companion includes new and probing readings of all of García Márquez's works, by leading international specialists. His life in Colombia, the context of Latin American history and culture, key themes in his works and their critical reception are explored in detail.

Written for students and readers of García Márquez, the Companion is accessible for non-Spanish speakers and features a chronology and a guide to further reading. This insightful and lively book will provide an invaluable framework for the further study and enjoyment of this major figure in world literature.

Hardcover, Cambridge University Press; 1 edition September 30, 2010ISBN-10: 052119587X
ISBN-13: 978-0521195874
Allan Brewer-Carías

This book examines the process of dismantling the democratic institutions and protections in Venezuela under the Hugo Chávez regime. The actions of the Chávez government have influenced similar processes and undemocratic maneuverings in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Honduras. Since the election of Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela in 1998, a sinister form of nationalistic authoritarianism has arisen at the expense of long-established democratic standards.

During the past decade, the 1999 Venezuelan Constitution has been systematically attacked by all branches of the Chávez government, particularly by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice, which has legitimized the Chávez-ordered constitutional violations.

The Chávez regime has purposely defrauded the Constitution and severely restricted representative government, all in the name of a supposedly participatory democracy controlled by a popularly supported central government. This volume illustrates how an authoritarian, nondemocratic government has been established in Venezuela - a government lacking all the essential elements of a true democracy as defined by the 2001 Inter-American Democratic Charter.

(Pitt Latin American Studies) Hardcover
University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition
September 28, 2010
ISBN-10: 0822943999
Robert L. Smale

On June 4, 1923, the Bolivian military turned a machine gun on striking miners in the northern Potosí town of Uncía.  The incident is remembered as Bolivia’s first massacre of industrial workers.  The violence in Uncía highlights a formative period in the development of a working class who would eventually challenge the oligarchic control of the nation.

Robert L. Smale begins his study as Bolivia’s mining industry transitioned from silver to tin; specifically focusing on the region of Oruro and northern Potosí. The miners were part of a heterogeneous urban class alongside artisans, small merchants, and other laborers.

Artisan mutual aid societies provided miners their first organizational models and the guidance to emancipate themselves from the mine owners’ political tutelage.  During the 1910s both the Workers’ Labor Federation and the Socialist Party appeared in Oruro to spur more aggressive political action. In 1920 miners won a comprehensive contract that exceeded labor legislation debated in Congress in the years that followed.  Relations between the working class and the government deteriorated soon after, leading to the 1923 massacre in Uncía. Smale ends his study with the onset of the Great Depression and premonitions of war with Paraguay—twin cataclysms that would discredit the old oligarchic order and open new horizons to the labor movement.

This period’s developments marked the entry of workers and other marginalized groups into Bolivian politics and the acquisition of new freedoms and basic rights.  These events prefigure the rise of Evo Morales — a union activist born in Oruro — in the early twenty-first century. 

(Spanish Edition) Paperback
Aguilar September 23, 2010
ISBN-10: 1616052430
Ingrid Betancourt

Ingrid Betancourt tells the story of her captivity in the Colombian jungle, sharing powerful teachings of resilience, resistance, and faith.

Spanish Description: Habia perdido toda mi libertad y, con ella, todo cuanto me importaba; alejada a la fuerza de mis hijos, de mi madre, de mi vida y de mis suenos; con el cuello encadenado a un arbol... en condiciones de la mas infame humillacion, conservaba, no obstante, la mas preciosa de las libertades, que nadie podra arrebatarme jamas: la de decidir quien queria ser.

En 2002, Ingrid Betancourt, candidata presidencial de Colombia, fue secuestrada por la guerrilla de las FARC, cuando se dirigia a San Vicente del Caguan, dos dias despues de que en esta zona se finalizara la concesion otorgada por el presidente, en lo que se conocio como la zona de distension .

Durante seis anos y medio Ingrid Betancourt soporto todos los horrores de la selva: el encierro, las eternas marchas, la enfermedad, el hambre, la soledad, la humillacion, los enfrentamientos, el dolor, el olvido... todo esto conservando siempre una integridad sin limites, con una unica obsesion: la libertad.

En su libro relata, en detalle, sus dias en la selva: los complejos hilos de las relaciones personales entre los distintos prisioneros, la lucha por conseguir una racion de comida o la compania de un diccionario, los tan anhelados minutos de comunicacion con su madre y sus hijos a traves de un programa radial, sus intentos de fuga, la muerte de su padre.

Asi mismo da su vision acerca de todo aquello que rodeo su cautiverio: el dia de su secuestro, las relaciones con los comandantes de las FARC, la posicion de Francia y su lucha por conseguir su liberacion, las negociaciones y los esfuerzos del gobierno y las autoridades colombianas. De una forma reflexiva y profunda Betancourt lleva de la mano al lector no solo a vivir en carne propia la humedad, la oscuridad y el olor de la selva, sino a sentir dia tras dia el torrente de sentimientos y emociones encontradas que alli suceden.

No hay silencio que no termine es un trasegar por la miseria y la grandeza humana: con sus encuentros y contradicciones, sus miedos y fragilidades, sus pequenos placeres y alegrias simples, sus decepciones y devastaciones, su esperanza e inspiracion. El 2 de julio de 2008, en lo que se denomino como la Operación Jaque, el Ejercito colombiano la rescato en un impresionante operativo que le dio la vuelta al mundo, y que regreso a la libertad a Ingrid Betancourt, junto a los tres contratistas norteamericanos, siete miembros del Ejercito nacional y tres de la Policia.

Pennsylvania State Univ Pr September 16, 2010
ISBN-10: 0271037075
Paul Dosh (Author), James Lerager (Illustrator)

In the latter half of the twentieth century, millions of impoverished people all over Latin America participated in illegal seizures of urban land. As many cities became saturated with squatter settlements by the 1980s, it was expected that such invasions would wane. But the increased economic vulnerability and expansion of informal labor activity brought about by neoliberal government policies spurred yet more invasions.

Their goals remained the same: reliable electricity, potable water, sewer drainage, and legal title to illegally acquired land. But changes in the economic and political context required different means for achieving these goals.

Social safety nets were weakened, organized labor lost power, and some urban service monopolies were privatize--and the introduction of democratic municipal elections offered new avenues to secure these much-needed services. In this careful study of ten neighborhoods in Quito, Ecuador, and Lima, Peru, Paul Dosh examines these new patterns to cast light on the reasons why some neighborhood groups succeed and survive while others do not.

Rutgers University Press August 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 0813548004 Paperback
Serena Cosgrov

Leadership from the Margins describes and analyzes the unique leadership styles and challenges facing the women leaders of civil society organizations (CSOs) in Argentina, Chile, and El Salvador. Based on ethnographic research, Serena Cosgrove's analysis offers a nuanced account of the distinct struggles facing women, and how differences of class, political ideology, and ethnicity have informed their outlook and organizing strategies. Using a gendered lens, she reveals the power and potential of women's leadership to impact the direction of local, regional, and global development agendas.
Hardcover University of New Mexico Press September 16, 2010
ISBN-10: 0826347037

One of the first artists to visit the Mayan ruins at Palenque after Mexican independence, Jean-Frederic Waldeck has long been dismissed as unreliable, his drawings of pre-Columbian art marred by his excessive interest in European styles of beauty. With this fresh look at Waldeck's entire output, including his desire to exhibit at Paris salons, his reconstructions of Mayan and Aztec subjects can be understood as art rather than illustration.

Pasztory sees him as a unique Neoclassicist who has never been fully appreciated. In addition to illustrating Maya antiquities in the days before photography, Waldeck painted imaginary reconstructions of pre-Columbian life and rituals and scenes of everyday life in nineteenth-century Mexico. Most his contemporaries looking for exotic subject matter went east and are now referred to as Orientalists.

Waldeck went west and found the exotic in the New World, but as Esther Pasztory suggests, he is an Orientalist in spirit. Waldeck's work was not considered interesting or important in its day, but twenty-first century viewers can appreciate his sensibility, which combines the modern domestic with the ancient mythic and features a theatrical version of Neoclassicism that looks forward to a Hollywood that would not exist until decades after the artist's death in 1875 at the age of 109. 

Politics and Economics of Latin America
Hardcover, Nova Science Pub Inc September 30, 2010
ISBN-10: 1608761894
Walter N. Bakker (Editor)

Latin America comprises a diverse group of countries with extremely varied economies and political dynamics. Some are heavy in poverty and others are booming with petrodollars. They speak Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

This book brings together analysis detailing crucial issues such as: the economic and social indicators of Latin America and the Caribbean; current heads of government and elections in Latin America and the Caribbean; Latin American terrorism issues; El Salvador's political, economic and social conditions and U.S. relations; Cuba and issues for the 111th Congress and U.S. restrictions on travel and remittances; and, Panama's political and economic conditions and U.S. relations. This book consists of public documents which have been located, gathered, combined, reformatted, and enhanced with a subject index, selectively edited and bound to provide easy access.

Addison Wesley Longman September 28, 2010
ISBN-10: 0132085097 Paperback
Erin O'Connor

Documenting Latin America focuses on the central themes of race, gender, and politics. These themes are especially important for understanding and evaluating the history of Latin America, where identities were forged out of the conflicts, negotiations, and intermixing of peoples from Europe, Africa, and the Americas.

Documentary sources provide readers with the tools to develop a broad understanding of the course of Latin American social, cultural, and political history. Drawing upon labor, biographical, economic, and military histories, the book offers a unique blend of perspectives of history from both above and below, from under-studied as well as often-studied regions, and from a combination of archival and classic sources that will allow readers to engage in a meaningful way with the Latin American past.

Paperback, Hackett Publishing Co. September 24, 2010
ISBN-10: 087220863X
John Chasteen (Author, Editor), Sarah C. Chambers (Editor)

Through a variety of primary sources - including speeches, poems, letters, and book excerpts - this collection illustrates the origins, progress, and unfulfilled republican promise of the Latin American Wars for Independence (1780-1850). A general Introduction offers a history of the period; head notes introduce each selection and provide historical and political context. Maps and illustrations are included, as are a chronology of the Wars for Independence, suggestions for further reading, and a thorough index.

Hardcover, University of New Mexico Press
September 16, 2010 ISBN-10: 0826344895
Friedrich E. Schuler

The conflicts that culminated in the First and Second World Wars had their origins in the rise of imperial powers in North America, Europe, and Asia in the late nineteenth century and the imperialist quests for the resources of colonies and former colonies. American expansionists, encouraged by a growing U.S. Navy, nurtured U.S. policies with illusions of easy access to South America.

Policy makers in the fledgling empires of Germany, Japan, Spain, and Italy relied on clandestine means to rival U.S. ambitions. In this original and thoroughly researched book, based on new sources from previously unused collections in Germany and Spain, Friedrich E. Schuler details their attempts to suborn ethnic groups within Latin America but also the United States to establish ethnic 'beachheads' that would serve to undermine U.S. interests.

These deeply disturbing lessons became central historical reference points for U.S. policy makers during World War II. Not surprisingly, though rarely covered in Latin American historiography, Latin American nations, but also Spain, developed their own plans to exploit these imperialist rivalries after World War I. The resulting intrigue and subterfuge revealed in this revisionist study adds a fascinating new dimension to our understanding of transpacific and transatlantic politics during this critical period of world history.

(National Bureau of Economic Research Conference Report) Hardcover
University Of Chicago Press September 15, 2010
ISBN-10: 0226153746
Rafael Di Tella (Editor), Sebastian Edwards (Editor), Ernesto Schargrodsky (Editor)

Crime rates in Latin America are among the highest in the world, and in several countries they have steadily risen over the past two decades, making crime the primary concern of many citizens. Despite this situation, there has been a lack of systematic effort to study crime in the region or the effectiveness of policies designed to tackle it. This book contributes to the current debate on causes and solutions by applying lessons learned from recent developments in the economics of crime.

The Economics of Crime addresses a variety of topics, including the impact of mandatory arrest laws, education in prisons, and the relationship between poverty and crime. The book also presents research from outside Latin America, illustrating the broad range of approaches that have been fruitful in studying crime in developed nations. The Economics of Crime will be vital for researchers, policy makers, and students of both crime and of Latin American economic policy.

(Vintage) [Paperback]
Vintage August 10, 2010
ISBN-10: 0307456617
Carolina De Robertis (Author)

From the verdant hills of Rio de Janeiro to Evita Perón’s glittering Buenos Aires, from the haven of a corner butcher shop to the halls of the United States Embassy in Montevideo, this gripping novel — at once expansive and lush with detail — examines the intertwined fates of a continent and a family in upheaval. The Invisible Mountain is a deeply intimate exploration of the search for love and authenticity in the lives of three women, and a penetrating portrait of the small, tenacious nation of Uruguay, shaken by the gales of the twentieth century.

On the first day of the year 1900, a small town deep in the Uruguayan countryside gathers to witness a miracle — the mysterious reappearance of a lost infant, Pajarita — and unravel its portents for the century. Later, as a young woman in the capital city — Montevideo, brimming with growth and promise — Pajarita begins a lineage of fiercely independent women with her enamored husband, Ignazio, a young immigrant from Italy and the inheritor of both a talent for boat making and a latent, more sinister family trait.

Their daughter, Eva, a fragile yet ferociously stubborn beauty intent on becoming a poet, overcomes an early, shattering betrayal to embark on a most unconventional path toward personal and artistic fulfillment. And Eva’s daughter, Salomé, awakening to both her sensuality and political convictions amid the violent turmoil of the late 1960s, finds herself dangerously attracted to a cadre of urban guerrilla rebels, despite the terrible consequences of such principled fearlessness.

Provocative, heartbreaking and ultimately life-affirming, The Invisible Mountain is a poignant celebration of the potency of familial love, the will to survive in the most hopeless of circumstances, and, above all, the fierce, fortifying connection between mother and daughter.

Contemporary Uruguayan Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology 
Bucknell University Press (August 31, 2010) ISBN-10: 0838757790
Ronald Haladyna (Editor)

This volume is intended as an introduction of contemporary poetry by notable Uruguayan poets to the English-reading world, but also to readers of Spanish unfamiliar with them. The introduction provides a brief background on Uruguay for readers unfamiliar with the country. Each poet is represented by an ample and varied selection of poems originally published in Spanish, here with English translations on facing pages. The final chapter is devoted to a biographical sketch of each poet and an extensive bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

A numbers of these poets have had poems translated into other languages and included in national and international anthologies, and have received international recognition for their work, but they are still virtually unknown in English-speaking countries.

Although some of Spanish America's most celebrated narrative writers of the past quarter century have garnered public, academic, and critical attention abroad, their poets have not. Part of this is due to a lack of orientation, a need to identify which poets of the hundreds currently writing are noteworthy.

The editor of this anthology addresses this literary omission by identifying seventeen Uruguayans deserving of recognition: Jorge Arbeleche, Nancy Bacelo, Washington Benavides, Mario Benedetti, Amanda Berenguer, Luis Bravo, Selva Casal, Rafael Courtoisie, Marosa Di Giorgio, Enrique Fierro, Alfredo Fressia, Saúl Ibargoyen, Circe Maia, Jorge Meretta, Eduardo Milán, Alvaro Miranda, and Salvador Puig.

(Spanish Edition) [Paperback]
ASP-VUB Press (August 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 9054875623
Rita De Maeseneer (Editor), Ingeborg Jongbloet (Editor), Lieve Vangehuchten (Editor), An Van Hecke (Editor), Jasper Vervaeke (Editor)

Authoritative and comprehensive, this broad-spectrum analysis contains numerous articles and studies — including three in Dutch — by international experts in the field of Latin American linguistics and literature. An homage to Robert Verdonk, a pioneer in Hispanic Studies in Belgium, precedes a thorough exploration of linguistic issues, from cognitive linguistics to lexicology, which is in turn followed by studies on renowned authors such as Mario Vargas Llosa and Miguel de Unamuno. The final section is dedicated exclusively to Mexico: its literature, linguistic complexity, and culture.

Autorizado y comprensivo, este análisis de amplio espectro contiene numerosos artículos y estudios—incluyendo tres en holandés—por expertos internacionales en el área de lingüística y literatura latinoamericana.

Un homenaje a Robert Verdonk, un pionero en el campo del hispanismo en Bélgica, precede una exploración minuciosa de temas lingüísticos, desde la lingüística cognitiva hasta la lexicología, la cual está seguida en su turno por estudios sobre autores tan destacados como Mario Vargas Llosa y Miguel de Unamuno. La sección final está dedicada exclusivamente a México: su literatura, complejidad lingüística y cultura.
University of Antwerp.
Allies at Odds: The Andean Church and its Indigenous Agents, 1583-1671
Paperback - University of New Mexico Press August 16, 2010ISBN-10: 0826348319
John Charles

Alternately viewed as servants of evangelization or the plotters of its demise, indios ladinos, native Andeans who mediated contact between the Catholic authorities and indigenous communities, are often omitted from histories of the Spanish spiritual conquest in the New World. Overshadowed by the more powerful European clergy, the experiences of these native assistants--the duties they performed, the historical mechanisms by which they learned Spanish law and writing, their juridical altercations with royal and church authority, and the consequences of native litigation for evangelization as a whole--provide a unique vantage point from which to observe the everyday workings of Spanish colonialism.

Focusing on the highland parishes of the Lima archdiocese, John Charles explores the vital, often conflictive role indigenous agents played in the creation of Andean Christian society. Torn between their obligation to enforce colonial laws and their customary obligation to protect native communities from the colonizers abuses, indios ladinos used the Spanish language to complicate the Church s efforts to evangelize on its own terms.

Utilizing a vast body of literary activity, Allies at Odds provides perspective on the Spanish cultural values that shaped the literary activity of native Andeans and that native Andeans had a part in shaping. 

Latin America Facing China: South-south Relations Beyond the Washington Concensus 
(Cedla) Hardcover, Berghahn Books (August 15, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1845457390
Alex E. Fernandez Jilberto (Editor), Barbara Hogenboom (Editor)

The last quarter of the twentieth century was a period of economic crises, increasing indebtedness as well as financial instability for Latin America and most other developing countries; in contrast, China showed amazingly high growth rates during this time and has since become the third largest economy in the world.

Politically, China presents itself more prominently on the international stage, stressing its position as a developing country and seeking new alliances, including South-South alliances. Based on several case studies, this volume assesses how China's rise-one of the most important recent changes in the global economy-is affecting Latin America's national politics, political economy, and regional and international relations.

Several Latin American countries benefit from China's economic growth by means of commodity exports, rising prices, and Chinese investment. Furthermore, China's new role in international politics has been helpful to many leftist governments' efforts in Latin America to end the Washington Consensus. The contributors to this thought-provoking volume examine these and the other causes, effects, and prospects of Latin America's experiences with China's global expansion from a South-South perspective.

Hardcover, Knopf August 10, 2010BN-10: 0307271153
Victoria Bruce (Author), Karin Hayes (Author), Jorge Enrique Botero (Author)

A blistering journalistic exposé: an account of government negligence, corporate malfeasance, familial struggle, drugs, politics, murder, and a daring rescue operation in the Colombian jungle.

On July 2, 2008, when three American private contractors and Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt were rescued after being held for more than five years by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the world was captivated by their personal narratives. But between the headlines a major story was lost: Who exactly are the FARC? How had a drug-funded revolutionary army managed to hold so many hostages for so long? Had our costly War on Drugs failed completely?

Hostage Nation answers these questions by exploring the complex and corrupt political and socioeconomic situations that enabled the FARC to gain unprecedented strength, influence, and impunity. It takes us behind the news stories to profile a young revolutionary in the making, an elite Colombian banker-turned-guerrilla and the hard-driven American federal prosecutor determined to convict him on American soil, and a former FBI boss who worked tirelessly to end the hostage crisis while the U.S. government disregarded his most important tool — negotiation.

With unprecedented access to the FARC’s hidden camps, exceptional research, and lucid and keen insight, the authors have produced a revelatory work of current history.

Latin America: Its Problems and Its Promise: A Multidisciplinary Approach 
[Paperback]Westview Press; Fifth Edition edition August 3, 2010 ISBN-10: 081334400X
Jan Knippers Black (Editor)

Now in a fifth edition, Latin America has been updated to reflect the region’s growing optimism as economies stabilize, trade diversifies, and political systems become more participatory. This multidisciplinary survey of Latin American history, politics, and society features invited contributions from authorities in a variety of fields.

New sections address current events including deforestation in Costa Rica and Brazil, emerging social movements, Ecuador’s new constitution, and Obama’s stated objectives to repair U.S. relations with the region. In addition, key topics — such as women and Latin American politics, socialist governments and anti-American sentiment, Argentina’s deteriorating economy, and Colombia’s struggle with military and narcotics issues — receive expanded and revitalized treatment. Other updated material covers outcomes of recent elections in Bolivia, Brazil, and Nicaragua, among others. Through a hybrid thematic and regional organization, this text provides an essential foundation for introductory courses on Latin America.

Villegas Editores August 1, 2010
ISBN-10: 9588293146
Victor Paz Otero (Author)

An intimate epic about Simón Bolívar, this novel resurrects a historical figure drenched in myth and legend as it delves into Bolívar's personal and intimate life. The Bolívar that comes alive in these pages is no mere literary character, but a real man full of contradictions—a tortured adolescent who, after walking various paths, finally chooses his own destiny.

Una épica íntima acerca de Simón Bolívar, esta novela rescata de la esfera de la historia a esta figura envuelta en mito y leyenda al desenvolverse en su íntima vida personal. El Bolívar que se despliega en estas páginas no es un mero personaje literario sino un hombre verdadero lleno de contradicciones—un adolescente torturado que, a través de los más diversos caminos, acaba escogiendo su propio destino.

ISBN-10: 0850367034
Dzodzi Tsikata (Editor), Pamela Golah (Editor)
Evaluating how land ownership relates to workings of global capital and the lives of both women and men, this analysis draws from field research in Cameroon, Ghana, Vietnam, and the forests of South America to explore relations between land ownership, gender, and class.

The study considers how, in each situation, the people’s resistance to global forces becomes a central theme, frequently through an insistence on the uniqueness of their livelihoods. Investigating the people of the Amazon, the survey focuses on the social movements that have emerged through the struggle for land rights, specifically concerning the extraction of Brazil nuts and babaçu kernels in an increasingly globalized market.

In Vietnam, the process of “de-collectivizing” rights to land is reviewed in order to comprehend how gender and other social differences are reworked in a market economy. Addressing a valuable topic, this overview raises new questions about the process of globalization, particularly in regards to the shifting relations amongst its key players.

Duke University Press - August 2010 - ISBN-10: 0822347385 Paperback
Matthew B. Karush (Editor), Oscar Chamosa (Editor)

In nearly every account of modern Argentine history, the first Peronist regime (1946-55) emerges as the critical juncture. Appealing to growing masses of industrial workers, Juan Peron built a powerful populist movement that transformed economic and political structures, promulgated new conceptions and representations of the nation, and deeply polarized the Argentine populace.

Yet until now, most scholarship on Peronism has been constrained by a narrow, top-down perspective. Inspired by the pioneering work of the historian Daniel James and new approaches to Latin American cultural history, scholars have recently begun to rewrite the history of mid-twentieth-century Argentina.

The New Cultural History of Peronism brings together the best of this important new scholarship. Situating Peronism within the broad arc of twentieth-century Argentine cultural change, the contributors focus on the interplay among cultural traditions, official policies, commercial imperatives, and popular perceptions.

They describe how the Peron regime's rhetoric and representations helped to produce new ideas of national and collective identity. At the same time, they show how Argentines pursued their interests through their engagement with the Peronist project, and, in so doing, pushed and pulled the regime in new directions.

While the volume's emphasis is on the first Peron presidency, one contributor explores the origins of the regime and two others consider Peronism's transformations in subsequent years. The essays address topics including mass culture and melodrama, folk music, pageants, social respectability, architecture, and the intense emotional investment inspired by Peronism.

They examine the experiences of women, indigenous groups, middle-class anti-Peronists, internal migrants, academics, and workers. By illuminating the connections between the state and popular consciousness, The New Cultural History of Peronism exposes the contradictions and ambivalences that have characterized Argentine populism.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Chicano Banned Book #3: Bless Me, Ultima - Felipe Ortego



Prepared for the Literacy Alive/Big Read Community Program of the Friends of the Library, Supported by a National Endowment for the Humanities grant, Silver City, New Mexico, April 4-24, 2009

By Felipe de Ortego y Gasca
Scholar in Residence/Chair, Department of Chicana/Chicano and Hemispheric Studies, Western New Mexico University; Emeritus Professor, Texas State University System—Sul Ross; Co-Chair, Intellectual Freedom Committee, New Mexico Library Association.

Why would anyone want to burn a book about a young seven year old boy growing up in the llanos of New Mexico whose father wants him to be a rancher and his mother wants him to be a priest. More distressingly, however, is that those who want to burn the book are Americans. 

This coming of age book — Bless Me, Ultima — by Rudolfo Anaya, first published in 1972, has become an American classic and a “family favorite of Laura Bush, one of her 25 Books to Read.
In Norwood, Colorado, in 2005, Bob Condor, Superintendent of Schools granted the request of parents to burn in a bonfire Bless Me, Ultima which had become the center of a brouhaha at Norwood High School over “profanity” in the text and its “pagan content.” Justifying his actions for burning the most influential novel in Chicano literature, Condor said, “That’s not the kind of garbage I want to sponsor at this high school.” Never mind that he had not read it. In 1981, Bless Me, Ultima was burned in Bloomfield, New Mexico.

The burning of books (biblioclasm) has a long historical tradition: “the destruction of and burning the books in the Library of Alexandria; burning of books and burying of scholars under China's Qin Dynasty; the destruction of Mayan codices by Spanish conquistadors and priests like Bishop Diego de Landa who in 1562 burned 5,000 idols and thousands of their written works; and in more recent times, Nazi book burnings and the destruction of the Sarajevo National Library” (Wikipedia: http://en.wiki-pedia.org/ wiki/Book_burning). 

“According to the Torah, in the fourth year of the reign of King Jehoiakim of Judah (in 605 BC) the prophet Jeremiah dictated the words of the Lord to Baruch, who wrote them in ink upon a roll of a book. The following year three or four leaves were read in the presence of the king and princes, whereupon Jehoiakim cut the roll with a knife and 'cast it into the fire that was on the hearth' (Jeremiah 36:1–26). From the context as given in the Bible, it seems likely that the King regarded the scroll as seditious expression of opposition to his policies” (Ibid.).

In 1497, Dante’s Divine Comedy was burned on religious grounds. In 1522 John Calvin burned as many copies of the Servetus Bible as he could find, a text he did not approve of. Later, Calvin had Servetus burned at the stake for being a Unitarian.

“Anthony Comstock's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, founded in 1873, inscribed book burning on its seal, as a worthy goal to be achieved Comstock's total accomplishment in a long and influential career is estimated to have been the destruction of some 15 tons of books, 284,000 pounds of plates for printing such 'objectionable' books, and nearly 4,000,000 pictures. All of this material was defined as ‘lewd’ by Comstock's very broad definition of the term—which he and his associates successfully lobbied the United States Congress to incorporate in the Comstock Law” (http://en. wikipedia.org/wiki/Book_burning).

In 1933, urged by Joseph Goebbel, Minister of Propaganda, German students from highly regarded universities burned books with “un-German ideas” in Berlin and other German cities in a ritual cleansing called Säuberung (The History Place: World War II in Europe: http://www.historyplacew.com/ world war2/timeline/bookburn.htm). Books burned included books by Freud, Einstein, Thomas Mann, Jack London, H.G. Wells, Heinrich Heine, Erich Koestler, Karl Marx, Kurt Tucholsky, and others.”The speech and book burning were accompanied by the singing of Nazi songs and anthems” (Ibid.). 

In 1980, Hezbollists of the cultural revolution in Iran burned libraries and millions of books in the name of Islam (“Book Burning” by Jahanshah Rashidian: http://www.iran-press-srvice. com/ips/articles-2008/ may2008/ book). Even Omar Khayam did not escape the Iranian cleansing.

On the American Library Association list of the 100 most challenged or banned books for the period from 1990 to 1999, Bless Me, Ultima was number 75. Anaya is one of the most respected Chicano novelists, recipient of the National Medal of Arts for 2001 presented to him by George W. Bush in 2002. Burning books is a form of censorship stemming usually from fear of unorthodoxy. We don’t know where censorship was first practices historically but, no doubt, it came into being when the “ideas” of one person clashed with those of another or when one person objected to being characterized a particular way by another (Ortego, “On Censorship,” 5). 

In general, censorship is the action of one person or group stifling the expression(s) or action(s) of others. In Plato’s Republic, Socrates laid out a plan to censor the reading of Athenian youth to insure their correct education. Censorship thus seeks to control “correct” or “orthological” thinking. Extremes of censorship imprison objectors and destroy or suppress materials outside accepted norms. Other forms of censorship are manifest in the control and dissemination of information — for example, textbooks that present only the dominant view of their society (like the Texas Textbook Massacre); or media controlled only by a particular group in a society. Censorship may take the form of regimentation, requiring all people to conform to a single tenet, as in theocratic or plutocratic societies.

The word “censor” came to English from the Latin “censere” — to value or judge. In ancient Rome, censors regulated the morals of citizens and had the power to inflict public punishment or ignominy (censure) on offenders. With the advent of writing, print in particular, censorship has come to be identified more as restriction on reading. 

For example, under a 1944 Pennsylvania law defining libel as a publication “tending either to blacken the memory of one who is dead, or the reputation of one who is alive,” Henry Clay Frick’s daughter filed suit in Pennsylvania in 1967 to halt distribution of the book Pennsylvania: Birthplace of a Nation by the historian Sylvester Stevens on grounds that it contained defamatory statements about her deceased father, the Pennsylvania coal tycoon. Defamation of the dead was considered a crime in many states then. In 1969, Cumberland County Judge Clinton Weidner ruled that Stevens’ book was protected as free speech.

With the advent of film, “obscenity” and “pornography” have become larger considerations in censorship — the limits of “offensive” material. Ovid’s love poems were censored in Rome on grounds that they incited lust in their readers. Films are rated on their “offensiveness.” In the United States, the Supreme Court test for censorship requires: (1) that the work appeal to the prurient interest of the reader, (2) offends community standards, and (3) has no redeeming social value.

As social standards change so do the precepts of censorship. One era’s obscenity becomes another’s titillation until finally such tempests come to be regarded as quaint. This is not to diminish genuine social concern for moral and just behavior. At odds with this concern stands the equally pressing concern for the free thought and expression of the individual — is there reconciliation?

In the gamut of these concerns, Supreme Court rulings have held that the limits of free expression can be bounded by libel and slander; that the limits of access can be bounded by government interest — security clearances or relocation of Japanese Americans, as examples. The crux of censorship is, then, the extent of harm and extent of government interest. These are not easy limits to define. For example, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said of free expression, “No one is free to stand in a crowded theater and yell fire” when there it no fire, just as today no one is free to make bomb jokes aloud in an airborne plane.

For all of us and especially the information professions, the issue of censorship is significant. For publishers, one of the key documents in the freedom to print [imprimatur] is John Milton’s Areopagitica, a speech delivered to the English parliament in 1641 beseeching restitution of the freedom to print books without government permission. For American newspapers, the first amendment to the Constitution is crucial to their interests — Congress shall make no laws restricting freedom of the press.

By and large, the evolution of American law has safeguarded publication of books and newspapers and exhibition of films. Erosion of that law comes from quarters that seek to suppress, extra-legally, distribution of publications and films [and now recordings] deemed by them as offensive. Many religions have published [and continue to publish] lists or indexes of books their adherents may not read. Special interest groups seek to intimidate publishers with boycotts; school districts, with political reprisals; individuals with anathema.

What is the role of the individual and the information professional in this issue? The question augurs no easy response. It is safe to say, however, that, at the very least, all of us would be better served in the preservation of intellectual freedom if we knew the general history of censorship and the general tenor of laws that govern its dynamics. We are all members of social groups; none of us are independent pillars. More often than not, common sense and vigorous defense of the Constitution are the best posture.

As parents, however, we can all point to some books we don’t want our children to read. In Plano, Texas, in 1991, for example, African American parents protested the required reading of Huckleberry Finn on the grounds that the work is racist and not at all the simple satire of the hypocrisy of racism as many defenders of the work attest. In her defense of the text, Dr. Jocelyn Chadwick Joshua, an African American herself, explains that “African Americans need to deal with issues of race” (Ortego, “Twain’s Huckleberry Finn: Racism or Censorship?”(1).

The African American parents were not asking that the text be removed from the library or that it be prohibited reading, only that in the name of cultural sensitivity the text not be “required reading” for African American students at Plano High School — this is not to say African American students there may not read the text, rather that African American students ought not be “compelled” to read it. The solution to make the text “optional reading” seemed to be a workable solution without censorship.

Published in 1884, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been banned numerous times on social grounds. The Concord Public Library called the book "trash suitable only for the slums," when it first banned the novel in 1885. Texts like Huckleberry Finn are often pressed on students in classes of literature on the grounds that they are “great literature” or “have withstood the test of time.” That’s how Chaucer and Shakespeare have become the gold standard of English literature. To say that African Americans can benefit from reading Huckleberry Finn as Dr. Chadwick-Joshua contends is a matter of opinion.

The “great literature” contention holds that texts somehow inhere qualities that apotheosize them over time. Chaucer and Shakespeare are writers whose works have been apotheosized without reconsideration of how” great” [or good] their works really are. By agreement and tradition Chaucer and Shakespeare are automatically part of the Anglo-American literary canon, just as Twain is now part of the American literary canon while many black writers — until recently — have not been part of that canon because there was no “canonical consensus” about their works.

I cannot say I did not benefit from reading Helen Hunt Jackson’s Ramona and John Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat though both texts treat Mexican Americans abominably (Ortego, 1973). I would not abide their being “required reading” for Mexican American high-school students. Not on grounds that they are “great literature.” For they are not, in my opinion. Like Huckleberry Finn, Ramona and Tortilla Flat are full of stereotype about Mexicans and Mexican Americans. I do not discourage Mexican Americans from reading those works — just not as required reading. No one expects Jewish American children to be subjected to texts that portray them stereotypically.

Censorship “is socially more harmful than the material it seeks to ban” (McClellan, 9). Moreover, “all censorship should be opposed because there is never any guarantee that once it is made a tool of society it won’t be used to suppress all unpopular ideas” (Ibid., 30). These are expressions from the 60s in opposition to censorship. Current expressions about censorship posit that “censorship ultimately limits language — language that could be used to further intelligent discourse. By narrowing the scope of language, censorship inevitably deprives individuals of the opportunity to generate new visions and new ideas” (Carter in Brown, 212). 

According to James E. Davis, past president of the National Council of Teachers of English, “Every region of the country experienced challenges [of censorship] in the 1980s, and in the 1990s acceleration of those challenges has been the pattern” (Brown, 233). Censorship is a global menace. In 1988, a fatwa (edict of death) was authorized by the Ayatollah Khomeini against Salmon Rushdie, author of the novel Satanic Verses — any Muslim was free to kill Rushdie with Islamic impunity.

In the last three decades, the onslaught against freedom of expression has been relentless. In a Boston Phoenix piece, Dan Kennedy wrote, “freedom of express may be guaranteed by the Constitution. But it’s an idea we have to fight for every day” (July 5, 2008). The head of John McCain’s presidential campaign in Rhode Island compared anonymous critics to “terrorists” (Later On, wordpress.com/2008/06/26/ censorship-in-the-us-today/). 

In the United States since the 9/11 attack, Arabs in the United States have become targets of opportunity for the foes of freedom of expression. Adam Habib, an academic of Muslim heritage and critic of the war in Iraq, has been banned from speaking in Boston based on “secret” [non-existent] evidence. Worldwide, governments are restricting the free flow of information by filtering or blocking the Internet, a venue of the “new media.” In Bangladesh, feminist columnist and author Taslima Nasrin “has had bounties placed on her head for her stand against patriarchal religious traditions that she considers oppressive to women” (Karolides, Bald, and Sova, xi). The assault on Intellectual Freedom is everywhere.

Some banned books in the United States have included The Canterbury Tales, The Scarlet Letter, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, Huckleberry Finn, D..H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterly’s Lover and James Joyce’s Ulysses. In 1975, Fort Worth Public Schools forbade purchase of works by Chicanos on grounds that they fomented social revolution. One of those works was We Are Chicanos: An Anthology of Mexican American Literature which I edited for Washington Square Press in 1973.

In 1975 the Fort Worth Public Schools banned some twenty works by Chicano writers, using the justification that those works were not “fit” or “appropriate” for the students of the Fort Worth Public Schools. The list of banned books included works by such well-known Chicano writes as Jose Antonio Villar­real, Ernesto Galarza, George I. Sanchez, Americ­o Paredes, Julian Nava, Rudolfo Acuña, Rolando Hinojosa, Ricardo Sanchez, and Felipe de Orte­go y Gasca. Why, I wondered, were the works of these writers not “fit” or “appropriate” for the Fort Worth Public Schools?

I called the Supe­rintendent of the Fort Worth Public Schools to find out why. He reacted defensively and queru­lously, saying he didn’t think it was any of my business since I wasn’t a resident of Fort Worth. [I was then Associate Publisher of La Luz Maga­zine in Denver, the largest circulating monthly Hispanic public-affairs magazine in the country.] Adverse publicity and pressure from the Mexi­can American community of Fort Worth rever­sed that decision. But I daresay that the reasons for banning the works of those Chicano writers from the Fort Worth Public Schools grew out of the fact that the Chicano realities depicted in those works did not mesh with the realities about Chicanos held by the Anglo Fort Worth Public School officials.
Indeed, the banned Chicano books refuted the lies told about Chicanos and shelved in the libraries of the Fort Worth Public Schools. They refuted the institutionalized stereotypes by which Anglos came to think they knew Mexican Amer­icans. That’s why they were not considered “fit” and “appropriate.” 

The depictions therein about Chicano realities by Chicano writers were at odds with what the Fort Worth Public Schools had come to believe were the realities about Chi­canos. Yet the books which have promulgated the most meretricious of lies about us were not removed from the shelves of the libraries of the Fort Worth Public Schools. Those works were deemed “fit” and “appropriate” to remain.

From 1966 to 1975, I was fortunate to be one of the Quinto Sol Writers, a vanguard group of the Chicano Literary Renaissance which gave voice to El Grito: Journal of Mexican American Thought, first independent publication for Chicano literary production. In 1970, Quinto Sol Publications established El Premio Quinto Sol (first literary prize for Chicano writers) equivalent to the Pulitzer Prize in order to recognize Chicano writers who as a group had been excluded from public literary awards by the American literary mainstream.

In 1972 Rudolfo Anaya was the second Chicano to be honored with the Premio Quinto Sol for his novel Bless Me, Ultima published by Quinto Sol Publications. Bless Me, Ultima has become an enduring Chicano classic. In 1972 who of us involved in those nascent efforts in Chicano literature would have thought that 22 years later Bless Me, Ultima would be the focus of censorship by two school districts in Texas — Round Rock ISD and Fort Stockton ISD — on grounds that the book contained profanity and witchcraft. 

In 1994, the Round Rock ISD specifically justified its censorship of Bless Me, Ultima by labeling it as “pornographic.” And in 1999, parents of 9th grade English students of the Laton Joint Unified School District in California challenged use of Bless Me, Ultima on grounds that the book “uses vile Spanish language, glorifies death, the practice of witchcraft and sexual promiscuity” (Lewis).

Censorship is a delicate issue. Admittedly, there are books we don’t want our children to read. Yet, in the public forum, “speech” (including books as an expression of speech) is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There is nothing in Bless Me, Ultima that violates the Supreme Court criteria for censorship (prurient interest, community standards, and social value). Bless Me, Ultima continues to crop up on lists of contested works for inclusion in public libraries and high school reading (Ortego, 1995, 2).

In the Fort Stockton situation, Roberto Rodriguez and Patrisia Gonzales — syndicated columnists for Chronicle Features — reported in their column on the matter that Betty Dillard the high school teacher of English who was using Bless Me, Ultima in her Freshman English class was “taken aback when her school superintendent ordered her to pull the book from her Freshman English class” because of parent complaints. 

“But this is the premier Chicano writer in the nation,” she told the superintendent. That didn’t matter he said (1). Bless Me, Ultima was on the American Library Association’s 100 Banned Books List as number 75 for 1990-1999, and is also 37th on the ALA Banned Books List for 2000-2009. The number of book challenges per year has more than tripled from 152 in 1990 to 472 in 2000 (ALA).

About the censorship of Bless Me, Ultima, Anaya has responded that “censorship is a response to fear of difference.” Indeed that is at the heart of censorship and the banning of books. But equally insidious is the locus of control censorship seeks as part of hegemonic power exercised by the center of social systems. According to Anaya, censorship is “symptomatic of a backlash against any literature or art that has to do with our [Chicano] community. Some people don’t want to adapt these things into our curriculums . . . There’s an element out there that is very fearful of our culture. We have to be vigilant” (Lewis).

Note: Some material herein is drawn from “Censorship, Banned Books and Intellectual Freedom,” a presentation by the author prepared for the Annual Conference of the New Mexico Library Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 22-24, 2009. Some of this text is an updated and expanded version of “On Censorship” by the author published in the REFORMA Newsletter, March 1995 when the author was Editor of the Newsletter. REFORMA is the National Association for Library and Information Services to American Hispanics, an affiliate of the American Library Association.

Agee, Hugh. “Literature, Intellectual Freedom, and the Ecology of the Imagination,” in Preserving
Intellectual Freedom: Fighting Censorship in Our Schools, Edited by Jean E. Brown, National Council of Teachers of English, 1994.

Brown, Jean E. Editor. Preserving Intellectual Freedom: Fighting Censorship in Our Schools. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1994.

Carter, Lief H. “Mind-Control Applications of the Constitutional Law of Censorship in the Educational Environment” in Preserving Intellectual Freedom: Fighting Censorship in Our Schools, Edited by Jean E. Brown, National Council of Teachers of English, 1994.

Davis, James E. “Afterword” in Preserving Intellectual Freedom: Fighting Censorship in Our Schools, Edited by Jean E. Brown, National Council of Teachers of English, 1994.

Karolides, Nicholar J., Margaret Bald & Dwn B. Sova, 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature. New York: Checkmark Books/Facts on File, 1999.

Kennedy, Dan. “Silencing Free Speech,” Boston Phoenix. July 5, 2008.

Kennedy, Dan. “Silencing Free Speech,” The 11th Annual Muzzle Awards, Boston Phoenix, July 5, 2008.

Lewis, Reginald. “These Are Not God’s Eyes,” Impact Press, December 1999/January 2000.
McClellan, Grant S. Editor. Censorship in the United States. New York: H.W. Wilson, 1967.

Ortego y Gasca, Felipe de. “Fables of Identity: Stereotype and Caricature of Chicanos in Steinbeck’s Tortilla Flat,” Journal of Ethnic Studies, Spring 1973.

Ortego y Gasca, Felipe de. “Twain’s Huckleberry Finn: Racism or Censorship,” Forum on Racism in American Society, Texas Woman’s University, March 17, 1991.

Ortego y Gasca, Felipe de. “On Censorship,” REFORMA Newsletter, March 1995.

Ortego y Gasca, Felipe de. “From the Editor: Chicano Literature and Censorship,” REFORMA
Newsletter, March 1995.

Ortego y Gasca, Felipe de. “Censorship, Banned Books, and Intellectual Freedom,” prepared for theAnnual Conference of the New Mexico Library Association, Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 22-24, 2009,

Rodriguez, Roberto and Patrisia Gonzales, “Censorship in America: Bless Me, Ultima Banned,”
REFORMA Newsletter, March 1995.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Banned Book #2: Always Running and a Visit with Don Luis and the Idenfication of Chicano Literature


Banned Chicano Book #2: 
Always Running: La Vida Loca: Gang Days in L.A.

Luis J. Rodriguez' 1993 classic, Always Running has received its share of controversy and scrutiny over the years.

Book Description:

By age twelve, Luis Rodriguez was a veteran of East L.A. gang warfare. Lured by a seemingly invincible gang culture, he witnessed countless shootings, beatings, and arrests, then watched with increasing fear as drugs, murder, suicide, and senseless acts of street crime claimed friends and family members.

Before long, Rodriguez saw a way out of the barrio through education and the power of words and successfully broke free from years of violence and desperation. Achieving success as an award-winning Chicano poet, he was sure the streets would haunt him no more -- until his son joined a gang.

Rodriguez fought for his child by telling his own story in Always Running, a vivid memoir that explores the motivations of gang life and cautions against the death and destruction that inevitably claim its participants. At times heartbreakingly sad and brutal, Always Running is ultimately an uplifting true story, filled with hope, insight, and a hard-learned lesson for the next generation.

Santa Rosa, Califas;Fremont, CA; San Diego; San Jose, CA; Rockford, IL; and more have tried to block the use of the book and some have been successful. Book banners have said that it glorifies gang life. "Mr. Rodriguez is long on graphic sex, drug abuse, and violence, but short on consequences," said a speaker to the Santa Rosa Board of Education. (Sonoma County Independent, 1999).

Nevertheless, Luis J. Rodriguez has responded to critics in his speaking engagements. Many times all of those speaking against the book at school board meetings are white. Some have never read the book. Despite, or because of, this censorship, Always Running has become a modern classic in Chicano Literature and is used in both high school and college campuses across the nation. 

Read the article Class War by Patrick Sullivan on the efforts to ban Always Running.

Championing the Critics:  
A Revisit with Don Luis Leal and the Identification of Chicano(a) Literature

I revisited Don Luis Leal's classic article "The Problem of Identifying Chicano Literature" (1979). I wanted to revisit this article as the growing Latino-ization of Chicano(a) Literature continues to flourish I've frequently thought of Leal's article, and furthermore, as a publisher and critic, I find it harder to identify who is a Chicano(a) writer and who is not.

Leal starts his article saying the "...simplest, but also the narrowest way of defining Chicano literature is to say that is it literature written by Chicanos" and really, I think more or less, that what most people go by today: If it's literature and its written by a Chicano(a) viola -- Chicana(o) Literature.

But Leal posed two problems with this definition: 1. "It is difficult to identify a particular author as being Chicano, and it focuses the attention of the critic upon the origin of the writer, rather than on the work itself." 2. "It may be equally difficult to identify as Chicanos those writers with Spanish names, as, for instance Amado Mura and Silvio Villavicencio," says Leal.

Leal even talks about how maybe the definition of Chicano Literature by its "intrinsic characteristics" is more "satisfying to the humanist, since he feels that defining the Chicano is a task for the social scientists, and not for the literary critic." Using the "intrinsic characteristics" Leal says is good in that it helps us focus the "critic's attention upon the work itself." However, Leal says the drawbacks to this is that it gives us an "extremely narrow concept" of Chicano(a) Literature. In addition, I think this leads to stereotyping.

Leal goes on to discuss other topics and theories in identification, but what hit me was his statement that if we accept that Chicano(a) Literature is literature written by Chicanos(a), this leaves the burden on the critic to find if each individual writer is Chicano or not. I think of this often, should it be the job of the critic to do this?

Leal, like Juan Bruce-Novoa, rallied for a broad definition of the literature, one that was encompassing.

In his article, Leal gives some examples of some broad definitions, though he does not give them his blessing. Thirty years later, I think Chicano(a) Literature is broad, consisting of many writers, styles, and much diversity. In 1979, Leal says that "criticism" had "kept up" with the literature, and so it has. The range of literary criticism into our literature has octopused into a hydra of sub-genres, topics, theories, and more. Chicano(a) Literary criticism now serves a 5-course meal of knowledge for us to devour.

Yet, has the identification of Chicano(a) Literature been left in the oven, and when we open the oven, will we find the parrot -- or something bien quemado and more sinister.