University Press Week: Read. Think. Act.

October 7, 2019

According to Publisher’s Weekly, this year’s theme for University Press Week is, Read. Think. Act.

From Sunday, November 3 through Saturday, November 9, the Association of University Presses encourages readers to dive into publications about the issues that affect our present and future.

The theme, the AUPresses said in its statement, is timely in that “many citizens around the globe continue to engage in important debates that will influence vital decision-making in the months ahead; in fact, this year’s UP Week will begin exactly one year to the day before the 2020 Election Day in the U.S.” The organization added: “AUPresses members worldwide seek to encourage people to read the latest peer-reviewed publications about issues that affect our present and future—from politics to economics to climate change to race relations and more—and to better understand academic presses’ important contribution to these vital areas of concern.”

UA Press Director Kathryn Conrad, who currently serves as president of the Association of University Presses, said this in the same statement:

“Many of us choose to work for university presses because we believe in the UP mission of bringing the latest research and ideas to diverse audiences of readers, [and] the success of recent university press books such as White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo (Beacon Press) and Cyberwar by Kathleen Hall Jamieson (Oxford University Press) make it clear that there is a hunger for these books,” Kathryn Conrad, AUPresses president and director of the University of Arizona Press, said in a statement “In the last few years many people have found it difficult to have effective conversations about the most serious and important issues facing our communities, nations, and world. We hope that by encouraging readers to explore university press works on topics that affect everyone—and to reflect on their reading—our publications might help stimulate positive conversations and actions.”

To kick off your celebration, AUPresses put together a reading list from all of its membership that you can download and share. Recommended from the UA Press is a new book edited by Thomas E. Sheridan and Randal H. McGuire, The Border and Its Bodies.

The Border and Its Bodies examines the impact of migration from Central America and México to the United States on the most basic social unit possible: the human body. It explores the terrible toll migration takes on the bodies of migrants—those who cross the border and those who die along the way—and discusses the treatment of those bodies after their remains are discovered in the desert.

Read. Think. Act.

Kathryn Conrad Begins Term as President of AUPresses

June 26, 2019

Kathryn Conrad, director of the University of Arizona Press, assumed the presidency of the Association of University Presses (AUPresses) on June 12, 2019, during the Association’s Annual Meeting. Conrad was preceded by Jennifer Crewe, associate provost and director of Columbia University Press.

In her inaugural address, Conrad commended university presses for working “to advance scholarship, to preserve cultural heritage, and to build the scholarly record.” Read Conrad’s full remarks.

Conrad began her publishing career as an editorial assistant for both Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill and Houghton-Mifflin’s Best American Short Stories, an editor for River Styx—a literary magazine based in St. Louis—and a typesetter. She joined the marketing department of the University of Missouri Press in 1989, where she worked as advertising manager, promotion manager, and finally assistant marketing manager. She moved to Tucson in 1995 as the marketing and sales manager of the University of Arizona Press and served as its interim director, while continuing in her marketing and sales duties, for four years before her appointment as director in 2012.

The leader of a university press that reports to its university’s library—as do 20 percent of the Association’s member presses—Conrad speaks and writes frequently on the synergies that academic libraries and scholarly presses share. In addition, she earned a master’s degree in information and library sciences (MALIS) from the University of Arizona last year.

Conrad has advanced the work of the AUPresses community in many volunteer capacities. She served on the Association’s Board of Directors from 2002-2005 and also for three, multi-year terms on the Marketing Committee, including a stint as its chair. She has been a member and chair of the Library Relations Committee and has served on the Nominating and Program Committees and the University Press Week Task Force.

As a longtime leader within the Association, President Conrad offered her special thanks at the Detroit conference to all volunteers who will lead and serve AUPresses committees this year, including a new Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Committee.

She also welcomed all newcomers to the conference and profession. “The university press of the future may not look like the university press of today, but it will keep quality and expertise at its core,” she concluded. “I have a lot left to learn about publishing, and I expect to learn it from you. You are the future of AUPresses.”

About the 2019-2020 AUPresses Board of Directors

Other AUPresses leadership changes for 2019-2020 include:

  • Treasurer Jean Kim, Stanford University, took office, as Robbie Dircks, University of North Carolina Press, wrapped up his 2018-2019 term.
  • Niko Pfund, president of Oxford University Press USA, was chosen as President-Elect.
  • Alice Ennis, chief financial officer of University of Illinois Press, was named Treasurer-Elect.
  • New board members began three-year terms: Mary C. Francis, editorial director of the University of Michigan Press/Michigan Publishing, and Lara Mainville, director of the University of Ottawa Press.
  • Past president Nicole Mitchell, director of the University of Washington Press; past treasurer Nadine Buckland, finance manager of University of West Indies Press; John Donatich, director of Yale University Press; and Donna Shear, director of the University of Nebraska Press concluded their terms on the board as the Association thanked them for their dedicated service.

About the Association

The Association of University Presses is an organization of 150+ international nonprofit scholarly publishers. Since 1937, the Association of University Presses has advanced the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. The Association holds integrity, diversity, stewardship, and intellectual freedom as core values. AUPresses members are active across many scholarly disciplines, including the humanities, arts, and sciences, publish significant regional and literary work, and are innovators in the world of digital publishing.

2019 Western History Association Recap

October 21, 2019

Last week, I attended the Western History Association conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. At this year’s conference, the question framing the Presidential Plenary was, “Does the West matter?” To this, I say yes! The “West” as a region is the rallying call for the best minds in history to gather and present new ideas. And from my perspective from the book room, there was no shortage of dynamic research to be shared at what was the third largest gathering of western historians in the organization’s history.

In the spirit of inclusion and community— “so we can all be together,” in the words of outgoing WHA President Martha A. Sandweiss— this year marked a change in programming, an eschewing of the annual ticketed banquet and opening up the awards ceremony to all. Witnessing the torch-passing from Dr. Sandweiss to new WHA President and longtime University of Arizona Press series editor, David Wrobel, was a highpoint of the conference. Another highpoint: Watching UAP author Yvette Saavedra receive the 2019 WHA Hunting Library Martin Ridge Fellowship. Congratulations, David and Yvette!

Yvette Saavedra with 2019 WHA President Martha Sandweiss. Congratulations to Yvette for receiving the 2019 WHA-Huntington Library Martin Ridge Fellowship.

This year, I had the honor of participating in Thursday morning’s panel on turning a dissertation into a book, organized and chaired by UAP author and series editor, Jeff Shepherd. The panel was fantastic! The room was packed, with a continuous flow of great questions from the audience. It was a joy to have conference-goers swing by the booth throughout the rest of the conference to continue the conversation.

Thank you to all who came to the University of Arizona Press booth this year to browse books and chat about your research. I look forward to seeing everyone in Albuquerque next year!

—Kristen Buckles, Editor in Chief

Flying to sunny Las Vegas for the Western History Association conference, my luck began early in catching a glimpse of the Hoover Dam from 15,000 feet.

Hernandez Interviews Chacón on Kafka in a Skirt

October 18, 2019

Daniel Chacón and Tim Z. Hernandez, both University of Arizona Press authors with titles in the award-winning Camino del Sol series of Latinx poetry and literature, co-host the literary program Words on a Wire on El Paso’s NPR station KTEP. Chacón is a professor of creative writing at the University of Texas, El Paso. Kafka in a Skirt, is Chacón’s first book of short stories with the UA Press. Hernandez spends his time between Fresno and El Paso, where he’s an assistant professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Texas at El Paso.

Chacón and Hernandez interview writers and poets regularly for their Words on a Wire series. We thought it would be great to ask Hernandez to turn the interview table a bit. In this interview, Hernandez talks to Chacón about writing, identity, and life:

Hernandez: I’d like to start at the beginning. In one of the first stories that appears in this collection, “The Hidden Order of Things,” you state outright, “This is a work of Chicano Literature.” Why, in this post-millennial reality where it seems many writers of color are trying to steer clear of these labels, is this distinction important to you, and to this specific body of work?

Chacón: In the context of the story I don’t think I am either trying to avoid labels nor am I asserting one. Rather, I am admitting a reality, that no matter what I may want for my book, it will be read by some, perhaps by most, as Chicano and or Latinx literature. In fact, the publisher itself is a Latino literary series, and a very good one. A publisher I deeply respect. And many of the stories in Kafka are specific to the Latinx experience, like the “Fuck Shakespeare” story, or the story “Bien Chicano.” Not all the stories should be classified as Latinx literature, and that’s kind of the idea I’m making fun of. I tell the reader, if you’re reading this book because you’re interested in Chicano literature, then here’s the order you should read the stories. Then I give an alternative Table of Contents to the “official” one. I’m saying this is one of many possibilities on how to read the book.

I think as a Latinx writer, who started out as a Chicano writer, long before the term Latinx was used by anyone, I wanted nothing more than to be read by all people, but immediately my work was put in the category of Chicano literature, whether or not I liked it, whether or not I would’ve chose that label. And I think Latinos are often put in that position. In fact, my collection has been called “magical realism,” which is a term I don’t necessarily embrace, nor have I ever set out to write a magical realist story. However, because I am Latino, and because my work belongs in the category of Chicano literature, if something irrreal happens in my stories, if the reality that I present–and by the way, the reality I live on a daily basis  does not parallel what most people think of as reality–because I’m Latino, it will be labeled magical realism. 

The mystic writer Evelyn Underhill says “Reality is the illusion we share with our neighbors.”  When something happens in my stories that is not concrete, linear reality, I don’t think it’s magical realism at all. I think it’s just another level of reality.

So in that story you’re referring to, “The Secret Order of Things,” I am giving readers suggestions on how to read the book, that is, what order to read the stories, depending on their interests. And I was trying to be funny by suggesting that if all they’re looking for is to read “Chicano literature,” after the list I give them, they don’t have to read the rest of the stories.

Hernandez: You’ve written a total of seven books. Each of them ranging in different topics, settings, characters and situations. Each of them also using a conceptual approach to narrative-making, i.e. loops, wormholes, unending rooms. Kafka in a Skirt is no exception, as it strings together seemingly disparate stories with a few common threads in mind. What is the fascination you have with these concepts? And how does this book differ from the previous books?   

Chacón: I’m not sure it so much as a fascination as it is my reality, that things in my life loop back and forth from the past to the future to the present and even at times into a space-time that I’m not even sure exists in the visible universe.

For example, if I’m walking on the sidewalk and I see a paperclip, and I reach down to grab it, I am not only reaching down in that space-time, but I am also reaching down every single time I have reached down or will reach down, as well as reaching in my mind for imaginary paperclips in the stars. I am invoking the energy of every single time I have/or will have done it. And the source of that energy comes from a fundamental concept that I have about paperclips, how paperclips may hold together the pages of my life, and even though I mean that humorously, there was a time when I was obsessed with paperclips. Perhaps obsessed is too strong of a word, but I was very conscious of paperclips as metaphor. I would walk down the street and notice paperclips, whereas most people wouldn’t, as they would notice things that are filtered through their particular consciousness at that particular time. But each time I encountered a paperclip, it deepened other times I have discussed and or encountered paperclips.

One time at a book festival I was going to give a lecture on parallel universes, the multi-verse, and I had planned on talking about the archetype of paperclips and how it manifests itself in various levels of my sense of reality, and as I approached the building where I was going to give this talk, I opened the door and there on the threshold spread about were about 50 brand new, shiny paperclips. I’m not kidding.

Somehow, somebody had dropped paperclips right there at the entrance, so I scooped them up in my hands, and when I started my talk, I open my hands and I showed them the paper clips, and then I let them fall, sparkling all over the ground. When I explained what I was going to say about paperclips, some people couldn’t believe it. They thought I set it up. But that’s just the way reality is, images loop in and out and deepen the experience of life.

So how could it not be true with the fictional worlds that we create? 

An image can come up in one story, and when that image comes up in another story, it releases the same energy, even if that other story is from an entirely different book. Every image is a wormhole. Wormholes take us to other space-times.

In several of my stories, a tubercular bookseller appears, like in the one called “The And Ne Forhtedon Na.” I don’t know why he continues to appear in my stories, but I know that the image of a bookseller who coughs all over his books is somehow part of the fabric of my reality.

Every collection I have written has a tubercular bookseller, even though the stories are vastly different, and the books different, and I believe each time he appears, he releases energy from the other times he appears, from other stories, from other books, and it creates or helps to contribute to an overall connection in the universe.

As for “how is this book different” from others, I think rather than it being different, it is more of a progression of the other books, a further development of the way I piece together lives.  

I like to think that every book that I write, especially my collection of stories, I get better at it, as I begin to understand what it is I am capable of saying about reality.

Hernandez: The characters in your book are so “normal,” but also really strange in their normalness. I think of the character Bino in your story “F&$% Shakespeare,” who is clearly one example. There is also the vegan couple in “The Barbarians,” who are strange in their own way, because the girlfriend has this highly honed sense of smell and can detect meat odors from miles away. Do you set out to find the “strange” in the normal? Or how do these aspects emerge in your characters?

Chacón: At the risk of quoting The Doors, “people are strange.” I don’t care how normal they appear to the rest of us, people are weird.

Tim, you are a very accomplished man, a responsible father, but you’re weird. You have quirks that I’ve never seen in anybody else.  I remember the late poet Andrés Montoya always exclaimed, at these immense moments of joy about surprises in life, God is weird! And what he meant by that, whether he would articulate it this way or not, is that at times life is so unexpectedly synchronous. You live everydayness and forgot to notice the amazing connectedness of reality. We live these patterns, and it seems like nothing’s going to change, and then suddenly, when we most need it, we find a check in the mail that we didn’t expect, for exactly the amount of money that we needed.

Reality is that way.

God is weird.

And people, metaphorically or literally depending on your perspective, are made in God’s image. And I think that when you have a character and you follow that character’s voice, her language, the weirdness comes out, because it’s what distinguishes them from anybody else. I don’t think you need to seek out weirdness in people, you just need to seek their inner voice, and that will lead you to a much more complex personality than most people might suspect.

But one thing I know for sure, when you are sitting around a table, say a department meeting, say–just as a random example–of the Creative Writing Dept at UTEP, everybody sitting at that table is weird! 

But I don’t think of weird as something negative. I think of weird as a part of our personalities that make us unique.

Hernandez: I know you’ve been interested in Mysticism and angelic systems for some time now, and some of this informs parts of the writing throughout. My question is, How do you feel Mysticism has influenced your work? And, what first turned you on to this particular subject?

Chacón: Every first draft I write is the non-thinking draft.

I don’t seek to write about mysticism. I don’t seek to write about physics. I don’t seek to write about Latinx issues. I just follow the language, or the spirit of the character, and that leads me into the story. But yes, I have been studying mysticism for some time now. And perhaps it effects my writing in how it helps shape how I see reality.

One of the first concepts you will encounter in studying Kabbalah, and this is Kabbalah 101, is that what we experience on a day-to-day basis is only 1% of reality.

99% is beyond some sort of veil, and although most of us get a glimpse beyond that veil, very few can sustain that vision for long, and we return to the banality of everydayness.

One day you could be washing dishes and you look out the window and you see a tree blowing in the wind, a cat curled up on the grass, and you feel the warm, sudsy water on your hands and you feel connected to everything.  You feel a surge of joy or gratitude, and all you’re doing is washing dishes. But the next day, you just have to wash the fricken dishes, and you hate it again. There is no joy.

I study mysticism to understand those higher levels of consciousness that we all experience at one time or another.

I study it because I’m intellectually curious about it. And I know it helps my brain, because studying any new subject creates new neurons.

But then, sometimes, when I’m following language into a story, some mystic concepts may appear, and sometimes I go into them, and other times I don’t, but they are available.

Hernandez: In your story, “The And Ne Forhtedon Na!” you make clear that the gift of desire is desire itself, not the attainment of what is desired. And I feel this can be said about the bulk of your stories in this collection. As a reader, there is a desire to find out where the story is going, because you imbue each story with so much mystery and intrigue, and yet, it really is about the desire itself, isn’t it? Why is this desire factor important to you, enough to base a collection of stories loosely on this concept? 

Chacón: I have a simple equation for character-driven stories:

Basically it means that plot equals character over time, times yearning. Desire is what drives us.

Desire is what gets us up in the morning, that which keeps writers isolated in an empty room for hours and hours, days and years of our lives to write a novel.

Desire, without singularizing it to a particular want, is what makes us human.

On the level of mysticism, the “Source,” the divine, God before image, before we place it on a throne and slap a beard across its face, is pure energy. That energy is desire.  I’m not talking about want. A lot of my characters want things, but beyond the want, is desire, that which makes them human and divine. Desire in us is the same thing that turns the seed into a tree. It makes us want to expand, to grow, to be better, to be the best human being we can be, the best fathers we can be, the best teachers, and of course the best writers.

Hernandez: What can we expect next from you? Will there be more short stories? A novel? Poetry?

Chacón: I’m working on two collections of stories right now, one more suitable for adults and another one, tentatively called Stories for Lucinda, which are stories that I tell my daughter, who at this time is six months old and has become the center of my creative being. 

Saints, Statues, and Stories feted at Tucson Meet Yourself

October 15, 2019

The 46th Tucson Meet Yourself this past weekend was a great way to continue celebrating Saints, Statues, and Stories, a new book by James “Big Jim” Griffith, recently published by the University of Arizona Press. The founder of Tucson Meet Yourself signed copies of his new book to followers eager to read about Griffith’s travels through Sonora, documenting religious art and traditions.

A big thank you to Tucson Meet Yourself for inviting Griffith and providing a space to help promote the book and give readers a chance to talk with the legendary folklorist.

Shortly after the release party at San Xavier Mission del Bac on September 28, Griffith’s book was the featured cover story by Margaret Regan in the October 10th Tucson Weekly. On October 12, another story on Griffith’s new book was published in the Arizona Daily Star by Johanna Eubank.

Keep checking back with us for additional Saints, Statues, and Stories events.

UA Press Authors at the 2019 Texas Book Festival

October 11, 2019

We are excited to announce that several University of Arizona Press authors are participating in the upcoming Texas Book Festival in Austin! On October 26 and 27, over 50,000 book lovers will gather to attend author panels, book signings, cooking demonstrations, and other programs which support learning and literacy. The book festival features 300 authors of the best new books, and while the Texas Book Festival is an important showcase for Texas authors, it also hosts writers from all over the world.

Lara Medina will be participating in the festival and speaking about her new UA Press book, Voices from the Ancestors, which she co-edited with Martha R. Gonzales. This collection offers 85 voices addressing how to live as a spiritually conscious Latinx in these challenging times. The reflections and practices are a return to ancestral wisdoms before colonization and the displacement of Indigenous knowledge. Medina is a professor in Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Northridge.

Norma Elia Cantú will be presenting her new UA Press poetry collection, Meditación Fronteriza, as well as her new novel, Cabañuelas. Norma is co-founder of CantoMundo, a space for Latin@ poets, and belongs to the Macondo Writers workshop. She is also the editor of two book series, and is a Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University. Meditación Fronteriza unveils unique images that provide nuance and depth to the narrative of the borderlands. The poems are a celebration of culture, tradition, and creativity that navigate themes of love, solidarity, and political transformation.

Odilia Galván Rodríguez, poet-activist, writer, editor, and publisher, is the author of six volumes of poetry. She will be presenting her latest book, The Color of Light, at the Texas Book Festival. Among her publications are the award-winning anthology from UA Press, Poetry of Resistance, co-edited with the late Francisco X. Alarcón.

Sergio Troncoso will be presenting on his latest book, A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son. Among his publications are two UA Press books, From This Wicked Patch of Dust and The Last Tortilla. Sergio has taught at the Yale Writers’ Workshop for many years, and is Vice President of the Texas Institute of Letters.

Jeremy Slack will be participating in the Texas Book Festival with his new book, Deported to Death. Jeremy is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology and Anthropology Department of the University of Texas at El Paso with over 15 years of research along the U.S. Mexico Border. He is co-editor of the UA Press book, The Shadow of the Wall.

The Texas Book Festival is open to the public on Saturday, October 26th from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday, October 27th from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The festival is held in and around the grounds of the State Capitol Building in Austin. If you need more information about how to access the festival, visit here.

Poet Carmen Giménez Smith Is National Book Foundation Finalist

October 9, 2019

The National Book Foundation recently announced the 2019 National Book Award finalists. UA Press author Carmen Giménez Smith is among those selected for poetry.

Giménez Smith’s Be Recorder, published in August by Graywolf Press is the nominated collection. Winners will be announced on Nov. 20.

About Giménez Smith’s last book published with the UA Press, Milk and Filth, a National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist:

Giménez Smith’s poetic arsenal includes rapier-sharp wordplay mixed with humor, at times self-deprecating, at others an ironic comment on the postmodern world, all interwoven with imaginative language of unexpected force and surreal beauty. Revealing a long view of gender issues and civil rights, the author presents a clever, comic perspective. Her poems take the reader to unusual places as she uses rhythm, images, and emotion to reveal the narrator’s personality. Deftly blending a variety of tones and styles, Giménez Smith’s poems offer a daring and evocative look at deep cultural issues.

Tucson Shows Up to Celebrate Big Jim’s New Book

The Jarritos were on ice, the pan dulce piled high and not a cloud in the sky as more than 100 people filed into the San Xavier Mission del Bac plaza to celebrate the debut of James “Big Jim” Griffith‘s new book, Saints, Statues, and Stories on Saturday, September 28.

Griffith’s latest from the University of Arizona Press, is a collection of stories on Catholic community traditions from his 60 years of traveling through Sonora. Tradiciones, a local band that performs Andean and Mexican folk music, opened the event and moved many a Griffith fan and friend to dance.

UA Press Director Kathryn Conrad, who welcomed attendees, said the Press is proud to partner with the Southwest Center to publish Griffith’s latest book as part of the Southwest Center series. Thanks also went out to the San Xavier Mission for hosting the event at a location meaningful to Griffith and his wife, Loma Griffith.

Thomas Sheridan and Francisco “Paco” Manzo both spoke about Griffith’s new book and their collaborations with the folklorist. Sheridan, a UA Press author, is a research anthropologist with the Southwest Center. Manzo, whom Griffith acknowledges in the book, emotionally reflected on the trips through Sonora he’s taken with Griffith.

Missed this chance to get Griffith’s book? Griffith will be at the Tucson Meet Yourself store booth on Saturday, October 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Sunday, October 13, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Books will be available for purchase, and Griffith will be there to sign your copy, and maybe, tell you a good saint story.

Photo credit: Mark Corneliussen

Field Notes: Andrew Flachs Shares Insight from India

September 26, 2019

For anthropologist Andrew Flachs, fieldwork in Telanguana, India, was a critical way to understand the complex problems rural farmers face. In his new book Cultivating Knowledge, Flachs investigates how rural farmers come to plant genetically modified or certified organic cotton, sometimes during moments of agrarian crisis. Through months of on-the-ground ethnographic work, Flachs uncovered the unintended consequences of new technologies, which offer great benefits to some—but at others’ expense.

Today we share a few of Flachs’s photos and extended captions from his fieldwork, which offer insight into the stories and methods that have informed his work.

All photos and captions by Andrew Flachs:

Cultivating Knowledge_Image by Andrew Flachs_IMG_1416

IMG_1416:  A young man in Parvathagiri squints through a pesticide mist as he sprays to control for whiteflies in his cotton crop, a pest unaffected by the pesticide genes for which cotton has been genetically modified. It took four hours to spray his seven acres in 100+ degree heat, he spraying and his brother running back and forth to a stream to gather water in which to dilute the pesticide for the mister. Worried that the monsoon rains would wash the pesticide off the cotton, he had hastily bought a cheaper generic brand pesticide from a local shop known to carry expired chemicals. By the end of the day, all three of us had a headache from the heat and the smell of the mist. “It was a waste”, he told me bitterly a few days later. The pesticide had only killed about a third of the insects eating his crop. Concerned about future losses, he ultimately had to travel to a larger town with a better agricultural shop to buy a more powerful pesticide. “What if this one doesn’t work either,” I asked. He shrugged. “I’ll have to get something even stronger,” he answered, stating the obvious (2013).

Cultivating Knowledge_Image by Andrew Flachs_IMG_1438

IMG_1438:  A boy in Jangaon helps his family pick organic cotton after school before the bolls can be damaged, still wearing his school uniform. At harvest, it is imperative to gather and protect the cotton as soon as the lint erupts. Delays risk insect attacks, rain, or molds, all of which distort the fibers and discolor the cotton. Any such blemishes are cause to downgrade the lint at the open-air markets where commodities are sold to brokers. Organic agriculture depends upon ethical marketing campaigns to build trust with buyers in the United States, Europe, and East Asia. The development program that sponsors this farm advertises that they do not make use of child labor, and fundraises for school supplies and infrastructure that keeps students out of farm labor. Yet such distinctions are not completely applicable for many household farms, in which everyone is expected to pitch in for the greater good of the family. It would be technically correct but highly misleading to label this child labor – the children in this photo are simply doing their normal chores (2013).

Cultivating Knowledge_Image by Andrew Flachs_IMG_0340

IMG_0340: Although most of the research for this book took place on cotton farms, I also accompanied farmers to sell their cotton in larger markets. This led me to tour gins and learn more about the processing stage of the commodity chain. Cotton is plucked with seeds intact, and farmers speculate about which brands might have the heaviest seeds and thus fetch the highest prices. At gins, seeds are removed from the cotton lint and pressed into oil cakes that may then be fed to livestock. The lint is swept into piles and then compressed into square bales than can be loaded onto trucks. While much of this work is automated, teams of men run the bale pressers and manage the factory floors while women, often accompanied by young children who are not in school, sweep cotton into piles and use bamboo poles to clear obstructions in the gin. Here, a cotton gin worker and her son rest on cotton lint during a shift break at a gin in Warangal (2014).

Cultivating Knowledge_Image by Andrew Flachs_Field pic

Field pic: To ask questions about how farmers make decisions about their cotton seeds, I used a variety of social science methods: surveys on farm decisions, spatial analysis of farm locations, collection of wild and cultivated plants, participation in and observation of farm life, interviews, and focus groups. Here, a group of farmers compare notes on their cotton seeds with me on the edge of a vegetable and meat market in Hanamkonda. Focus groups like this give people space to debate the nuance of a topic, like which seeds to plant, and explore several possible positions through a conversation.

Andrew Flachs is an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University. Trained as an environmental anthropologist, his research spans sustainable agriculture, food studies, the anthropology of knowledge, and political ecology.

Five Questions With Editors of Voices From the Ancestors

September 24, 2019

Central to the process of decolonization may be reclaiming and reconstructing spirituality, centering knowledge that goes back generations when our ancestors were connected to each other, nature and sacred cosmic forces. This exploration is central to Voices From The Ancestors: Xicanx and Latinx Spiritual Expressions and Healing Practices.

In the following Q&A, editors Lara Medina and Martha R. Gonzales, talk to us about why this book is timely, and their hopes and dreams on how it is used in community and the classroom:

Is there something about this time we are living that makes Voices from the Ancestors an important book?

LM: Currently 20 percent of Latinx are unaffiliated with any religious institution, yet there is an increase in the phrase “I am spiritual but not religious.” For Latinx of the baby boomer generation, this departure from institutional religion, particularly Christianity, began during the civil rights era of the ’60s and ’70s when self-determination became an essential component of our liberation. A return to our Indigenous ancestries and their profound spiritual knowledge has continued among later generations and Latinx scholarship now reflects this within the discourse of spiritual decolonization. Many of the issues faced today by Latinx in the U.S.A., such as the violent treatment of refugees at our borders, the mass shootings of Mexican Americans, the murders of transgendered folks, the destruction of our planet, on-going police brutality, and the obstacles being placed upon ethnic studies programs in our universities, require a spiritual response in addition to political responses. As editors of Voices from the Ancestors, we wanted to offer a collection of spiritual reflections and healing practices that Latinx are doing in order to keep themselves strong and grounded as they face the challenges of these current times. These reflections and practices are grounded in an epistemology that understands the relationship and interdependency between all life forms and they offer pathways to return to this Latinx ancestral heritage.             

MG: There are some interesting conversations happening now within academia in the realm of Xicanx/Latinx Studies around identity, cultural appropriation of Indigenous identities to be more specific. Xicanx and Latinx people, people of mixed descent and cultural heritages, have been utilized as the “buffer” between colonial authorities and colonial subjects, between modern state authorities and state subjects deemed a threat to state projects pushing modernizing agendas thereby relegating entire groups of people, if one didn’t fit the image of a “modern” state subject, to the margins of society or zones of death. It has always been expected by the authorities that the mixed heritage subject would identify with state authorities, rather than the subjugated community or communities from which one might be descended. Today, presently, this continues to be the case. We still hear the terms “savages”, “uncivilized”, “barbaric” constantly being used in the media to describe people who don’t fit the image of a “western global subject” in line with neoliberal global policies or agendas. Within the context of the United States the proper Latina or Mexican American subject would be one who identifies predominantly with U.S. state policy both nationally and globally; it could be argued then, that given current U.S. national and global policies, the ideal U.S. Latina or Mexican American subject is therefore one who would betray her own humanity. 

This text aims to intervene by first demonstrating through cultural practices that identity when based only on conceptions of bloodline is first and foremost still today a project of the state meant to create political divisions between communities of people. Second, that culture and our cultural practices, no matter who you are, is really what defines anyone as a part of a community or a person, more so than your bloodline. 

Thirdly, to demonstrate that the narrative of conquest and colonialism must be continually revisited in order to contest the prevailing narrative that a conquest of the Americas or Turtle Island (an Indigenous name for this continent) was complete, that there is nothing left of our ancestors. While it is true that millions of people were destroyed, and hundreds of lifeways and practices eradicated, “speaking” books and knowledges obliterated in fires, many of them perhaps never to return, much has survived over the last five centuries. Survived, and as all cultural forms do, have been transformed in the hands of womxn over time and space. 

If, Laguna Pueblo author Leslie Marmon Silko is correct in her collected essays Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit, then we humans, we as Xicanx/Latinx womxn are not just individual subjects, but as people constitute a part of larger energetic forces operating within the natural world. And what I conclude from her writings, and the wisdom teachings Lara and I were able to bring together in this text, is that the knowledges, which we have retained in our families and communities, those practices that survived and some of which are beginning to thrive, have reemerged into our public spheres over the last fifty years because they have been meant to, because the survival of these practices were in fact mandated and foretold for generations prior to contact. 

In decolonizing our spiritual lives, is there room to keep both practices?

LM: Yes, many practices or traditions if desired. Latinx are people of various ethnicities, bloodlines, and complex histories. Religious traditions historically imposed upon us through colonization have survived among our people because in many ways we expressed them on our own terms when religious officials marginalized our communities. I am thinking here of the rich traditions found within Mexican American Catholic popular religion and Santeria, where Indigenous and African spiritualities and values survived under the guise of Christianity. Today, we have Latinx theologians and scripture scholars whose scholarship interprets Christianity through feminist and liberatory lenses. We are pleased that some of them contributed to Voices from the Ancestors. Many Latinx also choose to practice Buddhism in a way that coexists alongside or integrated into other chosen spiritual paths. In my scholarship, I call this nepantla spirituality, which means to be in the middle of rich cultural/spiritual diversity and respectfully choose what nurtures us spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

MG: Are you referring to both a decolonial practice and spiritual practice at once? Of course there is. In fact many leading scholars in decolonial studies would argue that you cannot have one without the other, or to put it another way, a decolonial practice gives way for a spiritual practice; an important part of decolonial practice is a transformation of the self and how one self-interprets the world and our role within it, this practice requires constant self-reflection and self-reflection itself can amount to a spiritual practice; self-reflection can lead one to accountability for one’s actions thereby a conscious claiming of one’s own agency and an understanding of prayer or spiritual practice as an intentional and mindful practice as Laura Perez, a contributor to this volume, reminds us. 

Furthermore, for those of us who study history, in ancient settings across the world, the modern differentiations between spirituality, science and/or religion among other subjects we have so neatly categorized, did not exist in the way they do today. The goal in a reconsideration of antiquity, or ancient societies, might be then to try to comprehend how these terms or practices coincided one within the other thereby contributing to a more balanced mode of living within the world and in relation to all of life. 

The book begins with morning prayers and ends with evening prayers, the rest of our lives in between. How do you see readers using this book?

LM: We hope readers will take in the introductions to each chapter that explains our intent in choosing those aspects of our lives. We also hope that readers will be enriched by the teachings held within the essays reflecting the spiritual perspectives and experiences of our contributors. And we hope that readers will be empowered to learn how specific spiritual practices can be conducted for themselves, their families, and groups they are involved in. This book could be used for personal, familial, and/or collective efforts to decolonize Latinx spirituality. We believe it can be used in college classrooms, community groups, and in homes. It is written in language for the general public and all the writings are “from the heart.”

MG: I don’t necessarily view this book as one which a person will sit and read from front to back. But rather as a text which a person may pick up, turn to a section which pertains to them in that very moment, and find a practice for themselves to serve the moment. Or perhaps the reader will feel inspired after reading a selection to look within their own homes/families to “see” if there is something there, has always been something there, a practice, a prayer, a home ritual, which they can recall for themselves.

I do think it is a text the same person can return to over several years when perhaps one part of the book may become more meaningful to that individual than when they first came across the book. These are the best kinds of books, the ones that become like a good friend you always have something to learn from. This is the kind of relationship I hope readers will develop to this text; a long lasting, well-worn relationship. 

In the early life of this book, when you began gathering the practices, essays, and poems, what was the community reaction that made you feel you were heading in the right direction?

LM: The idea was discussed among our professional networks, and we received affirmative responses. When we sent the call out widely the response was exceptional with Latinx across the U.S.A. sending us their contributions. We knew many people desired a text like this.

MG: We received a lot of positive feedback from most of our community. I would say about 95 percent. As someone who enjoys bookstores of all sorts and never having encountered a book such as this by Xicanx/Latinx women, I know this book is arriving at the right time, and I think most of our community feels the same way. We are living during a very interesting and intense moment; a moment which requires a radical shift in consciousness if we are going to survive and thrive as people; as humans. Most of our contributors, if not all, would agree with this statement and one could claim that their submissions to the project are reflective of this understanding.  

Do you have a special dream for this book of how it will be used or who it will touch?

LM: We hope that Latinx across generations will benefit from this book. We include blessings for newborns, teachings for our young ones, puberty or first moon rituals, rituals for our dying and deceased, holistic health care practices, moon meditations, songs, poems, and reflections on how spirituality can be expressed through the arts and our sexualities, and more … We have something for almost everyone! We send it out with the best of intentions, and we give thanks to our ancestors who speak through all of us!

MG: My biggest hope for this book is that it transcends or move between and beyond the artificial and real barriers between communities of people and the halls of academia. Lara and I purposefully set out to create a text meant for as a wide of an audience as possible. Both of us are aware of the power of the written word, we know the interventions that scholarly texts can make, do make and have made, within academia and the importance of these texts in wrestling with and shifting discourses. However, both of us as experienced scholars, Lara with more years than I, intentionally chose to write in a prose or language of the heart, of rhythms that reflect our daily struggles, joys and celebrations; in a prose that can set the stage for a different experience in the classroom and at the same time speak to the hearts of our communities: of our mothers, our grandmothers, aunties because they can read and see themselves in these words which would not be possible without the teachings that have been passed over to us generation after generation in our families, our communities. 

Oscar J. Martínez is an International Latino Book Award Runner-Up

September 23, 2019

Congratulations to Oscar J. Martínez on winning second place in the History category of the prestigious International Latino Book Awards! The 2019 International Latino Book Awards Ceremony took place on Saturday, September 21st in Los Angeles at the Los Angeles City College. The International Latino Book Awards have grown to be the largest Latino literary and cultural awards in the USA.

The award-winning book, Ciudad Juárez, is a critical historical overview of the legendary border city of Juárez. Martínez explores the economic and social evolution of this famous transnational urban center, emphasizing the city’s deep ties to the United States. In countless ways, the history of Juárez is the history of the entire Mexican northern frontier. Understanding how the city evolved provides a greater appreciation for the formidable challenges faced by Mexican fronterizos and yields vital insights into the functioning of borderland regions around the world.

Oscar J. Martínez is a Regent’s Professor of History at the University of Arizona. He has authored and edited numerous books and many articles, book chapters, and reviews.

A huge congratulations to Oscar!

Celebrating “Big Jim” Griffith

September 19, 2019

In 2015, Aengus Anderson, UA Special Collections’ oral historian and digital media producer, interviewed “Big Jim” Griffith, the founder of Tucson Meet Yourself and former director of the Southwest Folklore Center.

In this interview series, Griffith talks about his life and work in Tucson. It’s not only Tucson Meet Yourself’s 40th anniversary this year, but it’s also a special time for Griffith, with a new book coming out this month. Saints, Statues, and Stories: A Folklorist Looks At The Religious Art of Sonora, Griffith takes us on a different kind of Sonoran geographical tour to roadside shrines, fiestas, saints and miracles.

You can be part of the book celebration on Saturday, Sept. 28, at Mission San Xavier del Bac, 2-4 p.m. for refreshments, music, discussion and a book signing with Big Jim. Event is free, but RSVP appreciated.

AURUM: Insights from Poet Santee Frazier

September 17, 2019

Unflinching and magnetic, the language and structure of Aurum never strays from its dedication to revealing the prominent reality of Native people being marginalized and discarded in the wake of industrial progress. With images that taunt, disturb, and fascinate, Aurum captures the vibrantly original language in Santee Frazier’s first collection, Dark Thirty, while taking on a completely new voice and rhythm. Frazier has crafted a wrought-iron collection of poetry that never shies away from a truth that America often attempts to ignore.

Below, Santee Frazier answers five questions about his second poetry collection.

What inspired you to write this work?

It’s hard to point to anything specific in regards to inspiration. My poems tend to be receptacles for research, lived experiences, and techniques acquired from other poets (mostly dead poets). In this way, poems manifest through ritual and mindfulness. For instance, the final poem of Aurum, “Half-Life”, was written on train rides from the Northeast to the Southwest. On stops along the rails I would write two to three lines. Over a period of 2-3 years the poem took shape, and you can see this process unfold in the form. This is representative of all my poems, but the ritual varies from project to project. I am continuously working in three voices, perhaps more, but there are three in Aurum. I am of the mind that a poet should have many voices, and through those voices different modes of verse making and revision.

Detailed descriptions of food appear frequently in these poems. What is the significance of food in your writing?

I had this idea of using images of food to introduce cultural leanings without exorcizing the figures that populate the poems. In Aurum, the food images or references to culinary knowledge are isolated to a specific milieu. For instance, in “Sun Perch” the image of the Vietnamese dish served to the speaker is elaborate, which contrasts with their experiences with food. This image also introduces the recursive image system that dominates the poem and the larger collection. Going back to contrasts, the references to food in “Half-Life” are basic. The world the speaker experiences is devoid of the vividness represented in “Sun Perch”, “Sanguinaria”, and “Chaac”. The images of corn, beans, and potatoes hold significance to many peoples and cultures indigenous to Turtle Island. (Note, I use the moniker “Turtle Island”, due to the fact that phrases and terms used to describe North America and the indigenous peoples are inaccurate, and were conceived within oppressive political constructs.) In some cultures, corn, beans, and potatoes will be the only food that grows in a prophesied dystopian future. Furthermore, corn, beans, and potatoes represent horticultural knowledge lost to many of us living hand to mouth.

Mangled is a character who appears in Aurum and who also appeared in your collection titled Dark Thirty. Could you tell us about what Mangled represents for you?

The Mangled Creekbed poems work in a serialized form. The character is a container for research in music, pop culture, violence, and oppression in America. Mangled is what I write when I’m not obsessing over another poem or set of poems. I get these long periods of silence where I am reading and taking in lots of information, but not making art. When this happens I revisit Mangled and see if he will give me any new poems. In Dark Thirty my research in the Impalement Arts dominated the poems, in Aurum, my research into the accordion factored into many of the poems. The serialized form allows for verse driven and prosaic poetic modes. Some of these poems can occur in a moment, some longer narratives delve into back story. Mangled’s world also serves as historical context to poems set in a contemporary milieu.

Speaking of Mangled, the title “Mangled & the Accordion” is ascribed to five of the poems in Aurum. What is the significance of repeating this title?

The title is both representative of his anatomy and the structure of the collection. At times the poems have a dense structure, sometimes fragmented while utilizing white space. Similar to the constraints of the accordion. There are certainly allegorical and biblical references. As many Indigenous people create identities rooted in western religious morals and ethics, Mangled suffers on multiple levels. However, he is unaware of the threads of oppression that lord over his life. This mainly harkens back to some of his origin story in Dark Thirty, but in Aurum Mangled attempts to reconcile his history of violence through performance akin to vaudeville.

What are you working on now?

I am working on these small vignettes which I am calling nonfiction, but at times they feel like poems. I have always been so interested in Eduardo Galeano’s nonfictions and histories, specifically, Memory of Fire. I am also a fan of Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, and by proxy The Grand Hotels (of Joseph Cornell) by Robert Coover. So, I am writing these small pieces of text that take on different prosaic forms. There are no line breaks, but there is attention to sound. I’m hoping to shape some kind of book out of these vignettes, but I write slower and slower these days.

Below, read a poem from Frazier’s Aurum.


Mangled does not remember the beating outside the tavern,
just that when he woke the air under the rumbling bridge smelt
like hot engine oil, like tire. His twice ruined face inflated, cheeks
and hair crusted with muddy earth, boots spackled with blood.

Crouched near a creek, saw his face wavy in the ripple,
slit eyes buried under swollen flesh. He thought of the knife,
its baptism—flicker of sunlight in the current— blade hidden
behind the rust. As Mangled dipped his face in the water he saw
the creek bed, minnows darting along the moss-covered stones.

From Aurum, by Santee Frazier. © 2019 The Arizona Board of Regents.

Santee Frazier received his BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and his MFA from Syracuse University. Frazier is director of the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Residency MFA Program. He is a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Celebrating the People of the Press: Mari Herreras

People of the Press is back this week! Inspired by the Association of University Presses celebration of the people of AUPresses, we would also like to celebrate our dedicated publishing professionals throughout our 60th anniversary year.

Today, we’re featuring our Publicity Manager, Mari Herreras.

Hello Mari, what do you do for the Press?

I work as Publicity Manager for the Press with the marketing team crafting publicity campaigns for the fifty or so books published by the Press each year, as well as working on events and social media.

How long have you worked at UA Press?

I’m new. By the time this goes online, it will be my 10th or 11th day. I am beyond grateful to be here, and can honestly say I’ve wanted to work for the UA Press the last five years. The Press has been part of my life since I moved back home in 2007 to take the position as staff writer for the Tucson Weekly. But when I was living in Seattle in the early 1990s, my mother sent me a copy of Patricia Preciado Martin’s Songs My Mother Sang To Me, a collection of oral histories from Mexican-American women who pioneered and were part of Southern Arizona’s history. Talking about this book sometimes makes me cry because it meant so much to me then and now. It was the first time I read a book that reflected my family’s own history and story. That’s one example of the gifts the UA Press gives many of us from Tucson and Southern Arizona.

The University of Arizona Press is committed to helping contribute to an informed society and enlightening readers. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your work?

I think I’ve always known this, but see it more clearly now—that there’s more to the story then what’s written in each book published by the Press. Each book comes with the author’s own unique story about their life, their world, their research, and how they decided this one book needed to be published. That’s the great opportunity I’ve been given in this position—to help tell those stories and reach out to media to inform them of the deeper stories that come with each author.

What would people be surprised to learn about your work?

Oh probably all the details that go into each book. It’s more then just reaching out to scholarly journals and journalists about our new books and their importance. It’s also about the meetings and careful discussions with almost everyone on staff about each books’ unique story, and how we are going to communicate that to booksellers and reviewers. It’s also tracking that work on different software systems and spreadsheets. There’s a lot of love there, but also a lot of computer time.

Tucson has a thriving literary and scholarly community. What’s one of your favorite spots to hear authors, find a good book, or just curl up and read?

When the Tucson Festival of Books first started in 2009, I was invited to participate as a moderator for panels taking place at the Nuestra Raices stage. Over the years, being involved in those panels meant the world to me because that particular venue hosts Latinx writers from throughout the country, as well as local writers directly involved in community work. It’s been an important venue for local writers and book lovers. I’ve been grateful for local poets who’ve worked to create reading spaces, such as Teré Fowler-Chapman, TC Tolbert, and Kristen Nelson. I also don’t think Tucson would have been much of a home for me to return to after being gone for almost twenty years without Antigone Books and the UA Poetry Center.

Holding Up A Mirror: UA Press Celebrates 60 Years

September 13, 2019

From academic scholarship to community scholarship, the University of Arizona Press has grown in ways that reflect the city in which it resides, as well as the people, the skies, and the mountains of Tucson.

Preeminent archaeologist Emil Walter Haury’s quest to convince the University of Arizona to start a publishing program has been described as relentless. After all, it took more than twenty years, so perhaps the professor’s quest should also be described as an example of extreme patience.

In 1937, Haury returned to his alma matter to accept a faculty position in the UA’s Department of Anthropology, where a thriving culture of research and scholarship blossomed among students and professors. Haury felt strongly that the then-existing venues to publish this scholarship were antiquated.

It’s good to have relentlessness and patience on your side, but in Haury’s case it also involved timing. Enter Richard Harvill, whose tenure as University of Arizona’s president is still considered one that fostered immense growth, as well as a distinct collegiality between faculty and the president’s office.

Past reports on the Press paint a Harvill who was notorious for calling different department heads and faculty for no other reason then to check in and chat. These chats, most often after work hours, gained a reputation as being one of the best ways to share information or projects that the university president should know or help with. This, back in the day, was one way things got done. Haury got calls from Harvill often, and the need for a press came up often.

In 1958, Harvill called Haury with good news. He had $6,000 to start the Press without waiting for the new fiscal year. In a New Year’s Eve memo, Haury didn’t hold back. He responded with an outline on staffing and a list of eleven books ready or nearly ready to publish.

… This possible development has been a great encouragement to us, and I hope that the plan as outlined has sufficient merits to be activated. We stand by to answer further questions should they arise …

— Emil W. Haury

At the top of his list was a manuscript from George Webb, the anthropologist’s recollections of his childhood and his Pima Indian heritage during his grandparents’ lives. A Pima Remembers is the first book published by the UA Press in 1959. Webb’s goal was to provide a documented history and culture of his people for younger members of the Pima, now referred to as Akimel Oʼotham. The book remains in print today.

Hundreds of anthropology and archeology titles have continued to be published through the Press, from UA scholars and others throughout the country. The connection to anthropology grew to reflect other areas of critical research and scholarship at the UA, including space and planetary science, border studies, and a new understanding about the environment.

What also grew was a willingness to change, reflect, and share voices that might not otherwise be heard. Sun Tracks began in the 1970s, as a journal written mostly by Native American undergraduate students. Today, Sun Tracks is a ground-breaking and award-winning literary series dedicated to Native American and Indigenous writers.

We have UA linguistics professor and Tohono O’odham poet Ofelia Zepeda to thank for this beloved series. In an O’odham language class taught by Zepeda, she had her students bring in poems and songs to workshop in class. By the end of the year she had this beautiful collection, and Larry Evers, a UA English professor who edited the Sun Tracks journal, thought they needed to be published. The result was When It Rains, the first book published under Sun Tracks. Zepeda now serves as editor of the series, which has published the work of Santee Frazier, Simon Oritz, Joy Harjo, and Jennifer Elise Foerster, and many, many others.

The same can be said of another award-winning series called Camino Del Sol, which focuses on Latinx writers. Launched in 1994, the series is considered a significant vehicle for Latinx literary voices–established and first-time authors. The series includes poetry from Francisco X. Alarcón, fiction from Christine Granados, and nonfiction from Luis Alberto Urrea.

Scholarship has always been at the core of the Press. The staff recognizes the importance of telling stories and sharing the scholarship found in our very own backyard. As Tucson and the region changed, so did the Press, holding a mirror to our community these past 60 years.

Lydia Otero‘s book, La Calle, is a great example of sharing scholarship with community. When the book was released in 2016, the Press held a party at a restaurant in Barrio Hollywood, one of Tucson’s beloved Mexican-American neighborhoods. The restaurant, at capacity, was filled with folks who lived through the experiences detailed in Otero’s book about the politics of the destruction of the heart of Tucson’s Barrio Viejo all in the name of community redevelopment.

There were tears and joy in celebrating Otero’s work. The associate professor in the UA’s Department of Mexican American Studies created a book of immense importance in teaching Latinx history and urbanization that presented detailed research and unique storytelling important to scholars and community.

Come celebrate that with us. Come celebrate Haury’s relentless spirit of scholarship, as well as the love and community the UA Press has been part of these last six decades. On Tuesday, Nov. 12, 6 p.m., at the Carriage House, (125 S. Arizona Ave.), the UA Press and friends will gather to enjoy an evening of dining and poetry to celebrate this special anniversary.

The dinner, specially crafted by Tucson culinary legend, Chef Janos Wilder, includes a performance from the twenty-first U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera. Cost is $100 per ticket. Learn more and RSVP.

Kafka in a Skirt Lands on BuzzFeed Book List

September 10, 2019

UA Press author Daniel Chacón’s book, Kafka in a Skirt, made it on a BuzzFeed News list praising 18 books from small publishers:

Chacón goes beyond the US–Mexico border and looks at the walls that divide all of us in this short story collection, the author’s seventh book. He doesn’t mince words about the US’s dangerous foreign policy in Latin America while presenting a nuanced look at life in urban Latinx spaces, where the political and the personal collide.

Read “18 Books From Small Publishers That Deserve Your Attention,” here.

People of the Press: Savannah Hicks

September 9, 2019

People of the Press is back this week! Inspired by the Association of University Presses celebration of the people of AUPresses, we would also like to celebrate our dedicated publishing professionals throughout our 60th anniversary year.

Today, we’re featuring our Marketing Assistant, Savannah Hicks.

What do you do for the Press?

I coordinate our presence at the many academic conferences we attend, as well as make sure that our books have a presence at the conferences we can’t attend. These conferences are very important to our authors and to our acquiring department. We often have pop-up UA Press bookstores at conferences, so I make sure we have the right books for our respective audiences and the necessary means to sell our books to customers. This includes the wonderfully hectic Tucson Festival of Books! When I’m lucky, I get to travel and attend these meetings, which gives me the opportunity to meet our fantastic authors. I also support more general marketing efforts by writing some of our web content, designing program advertisements for the aforementioned meetings, writing promotional copy for a few of our books each season, submitting books for awards, running our Instagram account, and any other marketing adventure that may pop up!

How long have you worked at the UA Press?

I have worked at the Press for a little over a year now.

The University of Arizona Press is committed to helping contribute to an informed society and enlightening readers. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your work?

This is definitely the kind of job where I learn something new almost every day, and I really appreciate that. Until I started coordinating exhibits here, I would have never guessed that there is an academic society and corresponding conference for practically any topic you can imagine!

What would people be surprised to learn about your work?

While we do a lot of work “behind the scenes” in our offices, we also spend time in the community organizing events, attending conferences, greeting loyal and new customers at the book festival, and generally championing our books and our authors in a more socially tangible way. Even though a lot of our presence appears to be digital, I’m happy to say that some of the most meaningful and joyful interactions in publishing still happen face-to-face.

Tucson has a thriving literary and scholarly community. What’s one of your favorite spots to hear authors, find a good book, or just curl up and read?

I love attending poetry readings and literary events at Exo. Antigone and the University of Arizona Poetry Center are also great spaces for the literary community in Tucson. Oh, and those quirky little free library things around town… occasionally they have really great books in them. My favorite place to read is under a tree at Himmel Park in the cooler months, or in a nice cozy café such as Raging Sage when the weather is extreme.

Five Questions with Norma Elia Cantú

September 6, 2019

Norma Elia Cantú‘s new poetry collection, Meditación Fronteriza, is a celebration of culture, tradition, and creativity that navigates themes of love, solidarity, and political transformation. Deeply personal yet warmly relatable, these poems flow from Spanish to English gracefully. With Gloria Anzaldúa’s foundational work as an inspiration, Meditación Fronteriza unveils unique images that provide nuance and depth to the narrative of the borderlands. Written by the award-winning author of Canícula, Cantú has crafted a collection which carries the perspective of a powerful voice in Chicana literature— and literature worldwide.

Below, Norma Cantú answers a few of our questions about her new collection.

What inspired you to write this work?

Meditación Fronteriza is a collection of poems from the last 40 years and many poems were inspired by my life… I was inspired to put the poems into a book by the need to counter the general view that the border is a violent place and to counter the erasure of our culture and our reality by the mainstream.

The speaker of these poems often asks questions. What is the function of posing questions within your poetry?

I believe life is a series of questions that we pose to ourselves and to others. I often teach using questions. I write in search of answers.

Many of the poems in this collection appear in both Spanish and English. Could you tell us a little more about why you chose to translate certain poems, and have others appear solely in English?

Usually the poems that were originally written in Spanish stayed in Spanish without translation; however, I also found that I had already translated some of the poems that were first written in Spanish, so I kept the translations. I also want to honor the Spanish of the borderlands and to keep the language we use, so many poems include both Spanish and English. Translating everything seemed to be a betrayal of sorts to the linguistic spirit of the work.

The poem “Song of the Borderlands” calls for six voices to perform the lines. What do you think the importance of performing poetry out loud is?

Poetry has always been about sound and rhythm about oral delivery, even when it went from oral to written, the essence lies in orality. Spoken word and slam poetry are rooted in this orality. I first recited poetry as a child in a tradition called declamación where one memorizes the poem and declaims it in public. Hence, my love of poetry is intimately linked to my love of hearing the voice and performing poetry out loud. This particular poem was written for my students to perform and it works really well as a performance piece for a class.

What are you working on now?

I am working on a novel called Champú, or Hair Matters. It is set in a beauty shop in Laredo, Texas. I am also working on a collection of poems called Elemental Odes, I am writing poems inspired by the Periodic Table of the Elements. It is challenging but so much fun!

Below, find the poem titled “Border Bullets” from Norma Cantú‘s new UA Press collection, Meditación Fronteriza.


Rio Grande flows
from the Rockies to the Gulf
holy waters heal the border scar
pecan, nogal, retama sway,
tower o'er mesquites, huisaches
buried treasure brown

fiery gold crown
sun sets over Mexico
death defies life
a packed train speeds by
transports precious cargo
arrives with the moonlight
Norma Cantú and UA Press Editor-In-Chief Kristen Buckles

Norma Elia Cantú is a daughter of the borderlands, a scholar, and a creative writer. She serves as Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University in San Antonio.

Discussing Brazil and the Landless Movement

September 6, 2019

A satisfying part of our work as scholarly publishers is seeing our authors share their scholarship. Late last month, Anthony Pahnke spoke with the Democratic Socialists of America in Sacramento. He shared the following brief reflection with us. Thanks for sharing your work with us and with the community, Dr. Pahnke:

From Anthony Pahnke: Some years ago, it was the famous Brazilian singer, Tom Jobim, who said that “Brazil is not for beginners.” Today, his words ring true, as the Amazon burns, the country’s–perhaps the world’s–largest corruption scandal occupies the nation’s courts, and Brazil’s far-right President, Jair Bolsonaro, slams the left, and deconstructs the economy. With many of theses issues in mind, we had the opportunity to discuss contemporary Brazilian politics with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) in Sacramento, California. I was invited to this event to share what I wrote about in Brazil’s Long Revolution: The Radical Achievements of the Landless Workers Movement and to discuss international solidarity efforts.

The principle focus was the Landless Movement (O Movimiento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra). We had the opportunity to discuss the movement’s history, tactics, and trajectory, while also making the movement’s struggle for agrarian reform relevant in current discussions of political corruption, the rise of the right, and the destruction of the Amazon. 

While the event in Sacramento was a time to talk about the book, it was also a space where a group of about thirty committed activists took the evening to imagine the future. At a time–in Brazil and the United States–many of us struggle to navigate our divisive political times. In Sacramento, we had the chance to think together on the things that Brazil and the U.S. share, and what the MST can contribute to this discussion.

Brazil’s Long Revolution shows how the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement, or MST) positioned itself to take advantage of challenging economic times to improve its members’ lives. Pahnke analyzes the origins and development of the movement, one of the largest and most innovative social movements currently active. Over the last three decades, the MST has mobilized more than a million Brazilians through grassroots initiatives, addressing political and economic inequalities. To learn more about Anthony Pahnke’s work, see his website at:

Anthony Pahnke at an event at the Arden-Dimick Library in Sacramento.

Aldama and González Unpack Latinx Representation

September 4, 2019

Frederick Luis Aldama and Christopher González‘ new book, Reel Latinxs, dives into Latinx representation in film and television in the twenty-first century. Latinx representation in the popular imagination has infuriated and befuddled the Latinx community for decades. These misrepresentations and stereotypes soon became as American as apple pie. Not seeing real Latinxs on TV and film reels as kids inspired the authors to dig into the world of mainstream television and film to uncover examples of representation, good and bad. The result: a riveting ride through televisual and celluloid reels that make up mainstream culture.

Today, Frederick Aldama and Christopher González share with us some of the inspiration and thought that helped craft Reel Latinxs.

Frederick Luis Aldama: We both spend a bunch of time thinking, writing, and teaching all varieties of Latinx pop culture, film, and TV. I often get asked, “What shows or films do you recommend watching that get Latinx representation right?”. My reflex answer for recent brown televisual reconstructions: check out the representations of Latinas in Golden Globe awardee, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, the playful panoply of Latino-ness represented in East WillyB, and those awesome Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D webisodes that feature Cisco Ramone or Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez. My reflex answer for recent brownings of the silver-screen: Robert Rodriguez’ Alita, Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina’s Coco, and, of course, Bob Persichetti’s Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. I add to this, that it’s not just the representation that matters, it’s the shaping of the representation, too. That is, we can have Latinxs in front of the camera, but we also need Latinx writers, directors, cinematographers, costume designers, and showrunners.

Christopher González: Those are all great examples, and we may as well confront the specific difficulty when it comes to representation of the Latinx community. Representation is not merely about casting a Latinx actor in a given role. We know that characters— their function within the narrative, their reliance on or avoidance of recognizable tropes or even stereotypes, and their capability of signifying a given community— all highlight why the kind of representation we encounter in film and television is so powerful. And you are correct in pointing to why it’s so crucial to examine the other major contributors to a given instance of representation such as writers, producers, and so forth. The shaping that you are referring to, however, is also something with which audiences must contend. What do you feel are the challenges audiences of these Latinx representations face with these emerging televisual narratives?

Frederick Luis Aldama: Subtlety. Nuance. Knowing the difference between an abuelitas throwing a spoon at us— that would never happen— and a chancla— always happens. If Lalo hadn’t been brought in to consult Disney in the making of Coco, it would have been a big wooden spoon that Mamá Coco would’ve launched at Miguelito. We would have noticed, and likely exhaled our inner Latinx-sigh of disappointment. But subtlety and nuance in other ways. How many times have you seen an East Coast Puerto Rican Latinx family preparing tamales or mole— and not, say, mofongo or lechon asado? A show like Ugly Betty did this in spades. It also cast non-Nuyorican actors to play Nuyoricans, including LA-born, Honduran ancestral Latinx America Ferrera and Cuban Latinx Tony Plana as the papa.

Christopher González: So, a kind of insider knowledge is helpful, then— someone who knows the nuances and subtleties you mention. But we also have to contend with what we might call unconventional Latinx representation. For instance, let’s take the example of the new version of Magnum P.I. (2018-present). Thomas Magnum is an iconic 80’s character that was a career-defining role for Tom Selleck, who is of English ancestry. This new reboot stars Jay Hernandez as Magnum. Thanks to his Hispanic surname and mestizo looks, most reasonable viewers will instantly recognize Jay as Latinx. The writers of the show, however, are much more reserved in expressions of Latinx identity for the character. The question as to whether or not Thomas Magnum, the character, is Latinx is made ambiguous for most of the first season. Hernandez is now playing a role that was conceived of originally as a white man, and it is nothing more than his physical presence in the visual medium of television that signals the possibility that this new version of Thomas Magnum is Latinx. More complicated still is Hernandez’ turn as the voice of Bonnie’s dad in Toy Story 4 (2019). Though he performs the role with no hint of a Spanish accent, Bonnie’s entire family is rendered as olive-skinned, dark-haired, people. I left the theater wondering, along with my family, if Bonnie’s family was Latinx. It was possible, but not confirmable. What I’m suggesting here is that Latinx representation is much more complex of late than it has been for most of the history of television and film.

Frederick Luis Aldama: We could say the same of a lot of Demi Lovato’s roles for Disney, right? As Mitchie Torres in Camp Rock (2008) do we read her last name and the fact that her mom’s a cook (aren’t all our mamas preternaturally good with food?) as Latinx? Gosh, I remember doing that way back when I was a kid. Starved of Latinxs on TV I wish-fulfilled the Addams family as Latinx. I guess what I’m saying, Chris, is that we haven’t arrived yet. We’re still so few and far between on TV and silver screens that I think we need clear, affirming Latinx identifiers. So, yeah, today’s Magnum should be loud-and-proud Latinx.
This brings up another important issue. Do we fault the Latinx actors for playing roles that whitewash a given character’s Latinidad? Do we fault an actor like Zoe Saldana for taking roles that either portray her as African American or Outerworld Alien, and not for roles, say, that would affirm a complex Afrolatinidad? I raise this because of late one of my brilliant PhD students had an Instagram exchange with Saldana. My student wrote this super insightful piece about how the industry itself is at fault for essentializing and simplifying— even alien-afying Saldana. I don’t know if you caught the piece, “Race and Alien Face“? Saldana read it as somehow a critique of her choice of roles played. My student, of course, wrote a heartfelt further explanation: that it was the industry at fault, not Saldana. My point here is that, well, in the end Latinx actors have to play the roles that pay the bills.
I have noticed that as Michael Peña, one of my favorite actors long with Saldana, has become more famous, he’s been either more choosy about his roles, or playing less-than-straight stereotypical Latinx roles. As far as I know, he’s the first Latinx actor to be the protagonist in a mainstream sci-fi flick. I’m thinking of Extinction. And, let’s face it, he steals the show from Paul Rudd in the Ant-Man franchise. And, when he’s playing a Latinx gangbanger, there’s always a wink to the Latinx audience. He knows he’s playing a stereotype, subverting it from within.

Christopher González: I am always very quick to point out that actors (Latinx or otherwise) are professionals who are pursuing their careers to the best of their abilities. We should not fault non-white actors for making business decisions in an industry that has often been inhospitable to them. In one of my current book projects, I uncover how the film industry has deep-rooted insecurities about how Latinx actors could and should appear in speculative films in genres such as Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Horror, and more. Raquel Welch made a business decision to take on her white husband’s surname rather than use her own (Tejada) because she knew that doing so would limit the kinds of roles she would be offered. In the mid-1960s she had to whitewash her own Latinx identity in order to play characters such as Loana the Fair One in One Million Years B.C. and Cora in Fantastic Voyage. Now, over fifty years later, Zoe Saldana has to confront many of the same issues Welch faced. That Saldana took exception to your PhD student’s take reveals to me that Saldana is keenly aware that the roles she plays do matter, and that she perhaps feels frustration over how she is able to express her Latinx identity. But it should stagger us to consider that Saldana has starred in three of the five all-time grossing films at the box office (#1 Avengers: Endgame, #2 Avatar, #5 Avengers: Infinity War), and she still does not have the clout to make more forceful demands concerning the roles she takes. On the other hand, her Marvel co-star, Scarlett Johansson, is the highest-paid female actor in Hollywood, and she has taken roles that effectively whitewash characters. She came under fire recently for saying, and I’m paraphrasing, that as an actor she should be able to play any conceivable role. She later clarified that she was aware of how non-white, non-majority don’t have the same sort of access to roles of their white, cisgendered counterparts. In all of these cases, it is easy to get wrapped up with the actors and their decisions to take certain roles. What we should continue to critique is the system itself that allows these discrepancies in representation to occur. And, of course, we should take note of the opportunities some actors take to discretely subvert the stereotypical material they have been given.

Frederick Luis Aldama: Checking one’s privilege, now there’s a topic— and an urgent need, everywhere. We’ve seen a lot of push from historically underrepresented audiences for folks to check their privilege. We’re seeing the rearing of our collective ugly heads. We’ve had enough. I’m not only thinking of the #HollywoodSoWhite #OscarsSoWhite movements that have led to a lot of studios and television production units to create pipelines for young folks of color to become writers, directors, showrunners, and actors. I also think of the power of the internet as a platform to air our consumption needs and wants. Netflix canned the Latinx reboot of One Day At a Time. And, now after a hailstorm of internet mobilization, it’s back. We still need those boots-on-the-ground watchdogs like the National Hispanic Media Coalition and research centers like USC’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change, of course. However, with social media it seems like the power is really with the people.

Christopher González: Fede, our TV’s and silver-screens have shrunk. Elsewhere you talk about carrying these around in your back pocket, now. Sometimes I think this has emancipated #brownTV and also diminished our presence, representationally and physically.

Frederick Luis Aldama: The two-edged paradox: social media platforms like YouTube as well as spaces like VIMEO offering distribution channels to us Latinxs without deep Hollywood pockets yet the seeming continuation of stereotypical representation. I just watched a good friend, Ernesto Martínez’s short film, La Serenata, on VIMEO. It’s a masterpiece of short filmmaking, telling the much needed story of a Latinx niño telling his parents about his love for another boy. Queer Latinx Roberta Colindrez as the queer Latinx character, Devon, grabs the limelight in I Love Dick— a show made possible with funding from Amazon Prime. And, well, the way that Netflix’s One Day At a Time weaves into its one-familia storyworld the great variety of linguistic, religious, cultural, sexual, gender, class, regional resplendent variations that make up Latinidad is breathtaking. And, I have to say I love how Gabriel Iglesias uses humor to decolonize minds in Mr. Iglesias— an informal reboot of Welcome Back Carter from back in the day. Network TV could do these shows, but it doesn’t and it hasn’t. But then on the flipside, we have an abundance of us as “bad hombres”, not only in the super abundant narco Netflix offerings, but also in platforms like Discovery’s Border Live, where you can literally see ICE officers shake down innocents in real time.

Christopher González: Yes, distribution and availability are certainly enhanced. We can now watch these shows and films on the go, seemingly anywhere. That is the inevitable cost of the miniaturization of the screens we watch. The examples you just listed have benefitted from the almost grassroots efforts of audiences and creators to take more control of what they consume and what they make, even of the behemoth studios of Hollywood are still stuck in cement and antiquated ways of imagining the possibilities of visual storytelling. My sense is that there are many things that make this confluence of time, media, technology, and activism a great opportunity to see such change in how Latinxs are imagined within televisual spaces. There is no magic wand for instantly changing how things have been and where they are now. It takes hard work, bold choices, and the courage to be dogged enough to blaze a new trail. Our book, Reel Latinxs takes inventory of this shifting landscape and reveals what’s at stake for all of us, but particularly Latinxs like you and me who are old enough to see the progress that has been made and take stock of what work remains.

Frederick Luis Aldama: As we wrap this up, I wanted to mention that I’m super optimistic. At Stanford’s Great Books Program this summer, I got to spend time with a young, up-and-coming amazing Latinx actor, Emilio Garcia-Sanchez. He’s not bitter about having to step into the non-Latinx identified jock character, Jason, in Netflix’s The Society. He’s super comfortable with the fact that he brings his Latinidad with him, everywhere. Organically super-savvy about how he plays roles, he’s like a new gen Peña/ Saldana all rolled into one, and without effort. Like so many new gen Latinxs, he’s comfortable in his own skin— his self— as Latinx, y por vida.

Related Titles:

Rosa’s Einstein Reviewed in The Adroit Journal

September 9, 2019

Rosa’s Einstein is a Latinx retelling of the Brother’s Grimm’s Snow-White and Rose-Red, reevaluating border, identity, and immigration narratives through the unlikely amalgamation of physics and fairy tale. Using details both from Einstein’s known life and from quantum physics, Jennifer Givhan crafts a circus-like landscape of childhood trauma and survival.

Below, read an excerpt from a review of Rosa’s Einstein in the Adroit Journal, written by poet and essayist Allison Bird Treacy.

Every culture has traditional stories, and every family has its lore. We depend on these narratives to make meaning, but there are times in our lives when we call on those stories with a greater desperation, particularly when faced with tragedy. This is the state of affairs in Jennifer Givhan’s new poetry collection, Rosa’s Einstein; disaster looms in the air in the form of the atomic bomb, but also in the form of more intimate losses. What’s truly magical about this collection is how Givhan brings the science underlying nuclear technology into the magical world of myth and fairytale. What her approach uncovers is their mutual uncertainty, what Albert Einstein might have called “spooky action at a distance”— a phrase he used to describe that which is real, but unbelievable. In Rosa’s Einstein, what’s imagined is more believable, more present in many ways. than what we name reality.

To enter the strange alchemy of Rosa’s Einstein, we could start in any number of places, but perhaps the most useful place to begin is with Los Alamos, with the Trinity Project and the invention of the atomic bomb. Its violence haunts these pages, and in “Field Trip: Lieserl Blanketed in Fallout, or Nieve,” Rosa, Givhan’s reinvention of Rose Red and Lieserl, Einstein’s missing daughter, venture into the mythos of that day:

At the nuclear museum we watched the Trinity test
the day the sun rose twice:

Nieve appeared in the mushroom cloud
above our rancho.

That's what I called her. I renamed her
Nieve, my Good sister, favored one.

Sometimes, we pretend the extra limbs
are here to comfort us, snow-white

branches growing from our sheets
like snowflake arms in sixfold radial symmetry.

Nothing's so fragile, so perfectly shaped, as melting.

Read more of this review here.

Jennifer Givhan is an NEA Fellowship recipient and author of three previous collections of poetry. She teaches English at Western New Mexico University.

Indian Country Criminal Justice Degree Now at NAU

August 29, 2019

(From reporter Emma Gibson, Arizona Public Media)

Northern Arizona University is rolling out a bachelor’s degree that focuses on criminal justice on tribal lands. The Indian Country Criminal Justice degree will look into the unique laws and institutions on tribal lands. Karen Jarratt-Snider, an associate professor and chair of the applied Indigenous studies department, says her department and the department of criminology and criminal justice created the degree together. She said it will combine existing courses from Indigenous studies, including federal tribal law, criminal jurisdictions and sovereignty, with the criminal justice curriculum…. read more

Karen Jarratt-Snider and Marianne O. Nielsen are the editors of the University of Arizona Press’s Indigenous Justice series, which focuses on issues of social and criminal justice, law, and environmental justice as they impact Indigenous North America (with occasional references to other Indigenous nations).

The series is intended for undergraduate and graduate students of Native American, American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Indigenous peoples’ justice issues; human rights, criminal justice and legal scholars; criminal justice and environmental professionals; and Indigenous community leaders.

Stephen Pyne on Preparing for the Pyrocene

August 29, 2019

With millions of acres burning in the Arctic, Amazon, and between California to the Gran Canaria, fire seems to be everywhere. Stephen Pyne recently posted a thoughtful essay on History News Network, from the George Washington University. Here’s a brief excerpt:

Winter Isn’t Coming. Prepare for the Pyrocene

by Steve Pyne

Millions of acres are burning in the Arctic, thousands of fires blaze in the Amazon, and with seemingly endless flareups in between, from California to Gran Canaria–fire seems everywhere, and everywhere dangerous and destabilizing. With a worsening climate, the fires dappling Earth from the tropics to the tundra appear as the pilot flames of an advancing apocalypse.  To some commentators, so dire, so unprecedented are the forecast changes that they argue we have no language or more.

Stephen Pyne is an emeritus professor at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than 30 books, mostly on wildland fire and its history but also dealing with the history of places and exploration, including The Ice, How the Canyon Became Grand, and Voyager. Most recently, he has surveyed the American fire scene with a narrative, Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America, and a suite of regional reconnaissances, To the Last Smoke, all published by the University of Arizona Press.

Unearthing Magic: Critical Thoughts on Contemporary Self-Definition

August 22, 2019

In their new UA Press volume, Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag, Julia S. Jordan-Zachery and Duchess Harris have compiled essays which dive deeply into twenty-first century acts of self-definition, especially that of Black femmes, girls, and women. Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag shows how Black girls and women foster community, counter invisibility, engage in restorative acts, and create spaces for freedom. Intersectional and interdisciplinary, the contributions in this volume bridge generations and collectively push the boundaries of Black feminist thought.

Below, read an excerpt written by Julia S. Jordan-Zachery and Duchess Harris from the introduction of Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag.

“Jamila Woods, in her song “Blk Girl Soldier” (2016), sings of BlackGirlMagic. But what does it mean when we, self-identified Black femmes, girls, and women, invoke BlackGirlMagic? The term BlackGirlMagic is used across age, class, education, and other social identity markers. But it begs the question, what is BlackGirlMagic? Why do black femmes, girls, and women feel the need to consider themselves magical? What are we haunted by that is soliciting a response that asserts Black girls and women are magical? What ontological and epistemological questions does BlackGirlMagic pose? How does use of the term magic subvert Western thought that is grounded in positivism, rationalization, and empiricism? These are the questions that serve as the wellspring of this edited collection.

“Since introduced by Thompson in 2013, the term #BlackGirlMagic has been used widely, and it has become part of the lexicon of digital Blackness. To some extent, it has also become commodified (for example, by the selling of T-shirts and other merchandise). While the notion of BlackGirlMagic spreads in cyberspace and other places, the question remains: How is BlackGirlMagic experienced offline? The chapters that comprise this volume address this question. They move us beyond social media’s visual representations by offering analyses of the lived experiences of Black femmes, girls, and women, and how they negotiate the politics of invisibility through intracommunication methodologies in their efforts to arrive at self-definition and self-valuation and restoration. The chapters herein speak to how Black girls and women foster community, counter invisibility, engage in restorative acts, and create spaces for freedom. In essence, they show how Black femmes, girls, and women practice #BlackGirlMagic.

What the collection shows is that the labor required for success is not magical. It is real, and this labor can— and almost always does— exact a cost from those who might appear magical.

“By considering #BlackGirlMagic as an idea and an ideography, we are better positioned to understand how Black femmes, girls, and women perform magic. What the collection shows is that the labor required for success is not magical. It is real, and this labor can— and almost always does—exact a cost from those who might appear magical.

Deploying various qualitative approaches to unmask the essence of Black femmes’, girls’, and women’s perseverance against oppressive structures, the chapters in this volume paint a picture of the magic used by Black femmes, girls, and women. As they fight for recognition, and as they persevere against oppressive structures, the chapters show how the magic displayed in digital spaces such as Twitter is a combination of joy, pain, hope, fulfillment, anger, disillusionment, fatigue, and a commitment to justice and freedom. The term invokes how Black femmes, girls, and women live on the margins while also being insiders. It simultaneously emphasizes cultural specificity and difference, oppression and liberation. In a sense, #BlackGirlMagic is a mixture of the objective and the subjective. Additionally, it is both a discourse and performance. #BlackGirlMagic can be read as a political, cultural, and historical interpretation of Black femmes’, girls’, and women’s lives in relation, directly and indirectly, to Western philosophic thought. If read in this manner, #BlackGirlMagic is a form of resistance. The assertion of #BlackGirlMagic seeks to establish truth, order, and reality as understood from Black femmes’, girls’, and women’s perspectives.

Black girls and women are humans. That’s all we are. And it would be a magical feeling to be treated like human beings— who can’t fly, can’t bounce off the ground, can’t block bullets, who very much can feel pain, who very much can die.

Linda Chavers, 2016

“There is a pressing question that remains: Is #BlackGirlMagic an effective strategy of dissent from the dominant and oppressive structures faced by Black femmes, girls, and women? Some read #BlackGirlMagic as inclusive, as it does not rely on a prototypical Black femme, girl, or woman. But does it address the otherness faced by Black femmes, girls, and women across time and space? If so, how? We need to think through the limitations of #BlackGirlMagic as a cultural and political response to oppression faced by Black femmes, girls, and women. Not all Black women agree with this concept. Linda Chavers, trained at New York University and Harvard, wrote in Elle that Black girls aren’t magical, they are human (2016). Based on this analysis, we have to critically analyze which bodies are allowed to be centered in #BlackGirlMagic and how, for example, class, sexuality, and able-bodiedness influence such. Yes, #BlackGirlMagic serves to create ‘space for women [femmes and girls] of color to create and survive’ (Johnson and Nuñez 2015, 48). But who is allowed into that space? And who is not?T

The various themes that link the chapters that make up this edited volume bring us a little closer to answering these questions. As a collection, the chapters show how Black femmes, girls, and women choose to “gaze back” at neoliberalism and multiple, interlocking structures of oppression.

Julia S. Jordan-Zachery is a professor and chair in the Africana Studies Department at University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on African American women and public policy. Jordan-Zachery currently serves as the president of the Association for Ethnic Studies.


Duchess Harris is a professor of American studies at Macalester College. She is a scholar of contemporary African American history and political theory. She is the curator of the Duchess Harris Collection, which has more than sixty books written for third through twelfth graders.


Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag belongs to the Feminist Wire Book Series. The Feminist Wire Books: Connecting Feminisms, Race, and Social Justice is a new series from The Feminist Wire (TFW) and the University of Arizona Press that presents a cultural bridge between the digital and printing worlds. These timely, critical books will contribute to feminist scholarship, pedagogy, and praxis in the twenty-first century.

Farid Matuk Featured on

August 19, 2019

University of Arizona Press author, Farid Matuk, is today’s featured poet on You can find his featured poem here.

Poem-a-day is the only digital series publishing new, previously unpublished work by today’s poets each weekday morning. This free series reaches 450,000+ readers daily.

Read Matuk’s most recent collection, The Real Horse, to immerse yourself in a text that Cathy Park Hong described as “tender, difficult, wondrous, and wise”.

People of the Press: Kathryn Conrad

August 20, 2019

People of the Press is back this week! Inspired by the Association of University Presses celebration of the people of AUPresses, we would also like to celebrate our dedicated publishing professionals throughout our 60th anniversary year.

Today, we’re featuring our Director, Kathryn Conrad.

What do you do for the Press?

I sometimes joke that my job as Director is to attend meetings and sign my name. But what I love most is finding partnerships with colleagues on campus and in the community.

How long have you worked at the UA Press?

Almost 25 years! So much has changed in that time about the way we disseminate scholarship and connect with readers that it never gets old.

The University of Arizona Press is committed to helping contribute to an informed society and enlightening readers. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your work?

That university press publishing attracts the most talented, dedicated, generous, passionate, community-minded professionals you can imagine.

What would people be surprised to learn about your work?

I think people would be surprised at the amount of labor it takes to make a book. Research has shown that the average cost of publishing and disseminating a high-quality peer-reviewed monograph ranges from $30,000 to $50,000. Most of that is in staff time— and it doesn’t even include the cost of print copies. But I think they would be equally surprised to know that on most days, that work feels like a privilege. We get to share the stories and scholarship of incredibly talented writers and experts and help them have an impact on the world.

Tucson has a thriving literary and scholarly community. What’s one of your favorite spots to hear authors, find a good book, or just curl up and read?

Nothing beats the Tucson Festival of Books for renewing one’s own excitement about books, authors, and this incredible literary community we live in. But for sitting down with a great book, I’ll take the back porch during a Tucson monsoon.

The Real Horse Discussed in West Branch

August 15, 2019

A sustained address to the poet’s daughter, The Real Horse takes its cues from the child’s unapologetic disregard for things as they are, calling forth the adult world as accountable for its flaws and as an occasion for imagining otherwise. Farid Matuk‘s interrogations of form cut a path through the tangle of a daughter’s position as a natural-born female citizen of the “First World” and of the poet’s position as a once-undocumented immigrant of mixed ethnicity. These luminously multifaceted poem sequences cast their lot with the lyric voice, trusting it to hold a space where we might follow the child’s ongoing revolution against the patrimony of selfhood and citizenship.

In the following excerpt, author Hilary Plum and poet Zach Savich dive deeply into The Real Horse, and discuss their thoughts and questions which arise from the text. You can find this review and discussion on West Branch, a thrice-yearly magazine of poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews.

A hero’s pretty feet on her legs white hose skin exposed in sumptuous folds bound as freight on the back of this real horse running into its own outline.”

The questions of authenticity, representation (whose, of whom?), and legibility (to whom? saying what?) are the weighty and beautiful burden of this book, entangled ever with the cruel realities and constructions of race (the phrase “white enough” accumulates in devastating refrain). The couplet quoted above describes the stage actor Adah Menken (1835-1868), whose racial identity was a source of speculation and her own self-invention. Matuk considers her famous role as the “Cossack hero, Ivan Mazeppa”: “Each night on stage she covered her skin, though not her shape, in a pinkish white body stocking to play the culminating scene in which Mazeppa is stripped nude and bound, against a scrolling panorama, to a runaway horse.” There’s a real horse and fake nudity and flamboyantly performed race, of unknown “authenticity”; there’s a fake land in real motion. There are flesh and presence and life in their quickness, elusive amid inescapable representation and discursive force. Performances (Menken’s act; Homelands truest graffiti) may overflow the constraints of their stages, may claim sites of resistance, of “freedom, neither public nor private,” at least for a scrolling moment.

“Where does opposition go after it frames our beautiful camaraderie?” Matuk asks in a letter to his daughter that prefaces the book. “You show me that even if the outlines of our circumstance burn without consequence, we can tend at once to the plain moment and to material things and to the projections they bear.” Both things and the “projections they bear”; both the real horse and its outline. This book forms hope somewhere between reality and representation, in the quick movement of that opposition’s going, the horizon it’s heading toward. Read more.

Poet Farid Matuk

Farid Matuk is the author of the poetry collections This Isa Nice Neighborhood and The Real Horse. Born in Peru to a Syrian mother and Peruvian father, Matuk lived in the U.S. variously as an undocumented person, a “legal” resident, and a “naturalized” citizen. Matuk’s work has been recognized most recently with a New Works grant from the Headlands Center for the Arts and a Holloway Visiting Professorship at University of California, Berkeley.

Sergio Troncoso on His Family’s El Paso Story

August 7, 2019

Author Sergio Troncoso shared an op-ed on CNN today about his hometown El Paso and his parents’ hometown Juárez, Chihuahua.

(CNN)–I am and always will be the proud son of Mexican immigrants from El Paso. My parents came from Juárez, Chihuahua, to the United States in the 1950’s, newlyweds with on a few dollars in their pickets. In the east side of the neighborhood of Ysleta, they built an adobe house that at first… Read more.

Celebrating the People of the Press: Leigh McDonald

August 6, 2019

People of the Press is back this week! Inspired by the Association of University Presses celebration of the people of AUPresses, we would also like to celebrate our dedicated publishing professionals throughout our 60th anniversary year.

Today, we’re featuring our Art Director, Leigh McDonald.

Hello Leigh, what do you do for the Press?

I am the Art Director for the UA Press. My role includes a wide variety of production and design work, including book cover design, typesetting and interior book design, and art management. I also work with our printers to choose formats and materials and get the books made.

How long have you worked at the UA Press?

A very lucky thirteen years!

The University of Arizona Press is committed to helping contribute to an informed society and enlightening readers. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your work?

One of my favorite things about working at the Press is that I get to learn a little bit about the wide variety of important scholarship we publish. Aside from staying current on the hottest topics in Anthropology or Border Studies, probably the best thing I have learned—and keep learning!—is what’s happening in the art world related to all these different disciplines. Whether I’m being introduced to an up-and-coming young Native painter or rediscovering some fascinating vintage Space art, our books keep me learning every day.

What would people be surprised to learn about your work?

Everybody loves books, but not many people think about the work that goes into them behind the scenes! Everything you see when you pick up a book, from the choice of paper stock and color to the font, margins, image placement…everything but the content was a decision made by someone like me.

Tucson has a thriving literary and scholarly community. What’s one of your favorite spots to hear authors, find a good book, or just curl up and read?

I do most of my book purchasing at either Bookmans or Antigone, but to just curl up and read there’s nothing like enjoying the shade of a tree in a nearby park.

Botany Conference 2019 Roundup

August 2, 2019

This week, we attended the 2019 Botany Conference in Tucson. We had a wonderful time meeting botanists and plant enthusiasts from far and wide, and sharing our books on the Sonoran desert and other regions. We were also thrilled that one of our authors, Stephen Pyne, was the plenary speaker for the conference and spent an evening signing his UA Press books, such as Between Two Fires. Thank you to all of the Botany 2019 attendees for visiting our beautiful desert home and stopping by the UA Press booth to look at our books!

It was great to see Mark E. Fishbein, an editor of Gentry’s Rio Mayo Plants.
Thanks to those of you who came by to get your books signed by Stephen Pyne!

Celebrating the People of the Press: Abby Mogollon

July 24, 2019

People of the Press is back this week! Inspired by the Association of University Presses celebration of the people of AUPresses, we would also like to celebrate our dedicated publishing professionals throughout our 60th anniversary year.

Today, we’re featuring our Marketing Manager, Abby Mogollon.

Hello Abby, what do you do for the Press?

I am the Marketing Manager for the University of Arizona Press. With a three-person marketing team, we have an all-hands-on-deck approach to our marketing and communications. It takes everyone doing their part. I have a wide variety of duties, from guiding our overall marketing strategy to overseeing our website and metadata. I work on book covers and jackets with our designer, coordinate with our sales reps across the country, and much more. All in support of helping our authors share this vital scholarship! My favorite work is when I get to spend time at an exhibit or book festival, hand-selling our books and meeting authors and customers.

How long have you worked at UA Press?

I just reached my tenth anniversary!

The University of Arizona Press is committed to helping contribute to an informed society and enlightening readers. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your work?

I feel like every day I’m learning something new in this job. Whether it’s new ways to market our books or new ways to think about the world, thanks to our author’s scholarship. I feel so lucky to have a job where every day I’m learning something new. Perhaps the one thing I’ve learned is to just keep learning and being ready to change.

What would people be surprised to learn about your work?

So much of book publishing is invisible. It takes a great partnership between the press and the author to spread the word about a book, and a lot of thought and planning is happing behind the scenes. For example, for every review a book receives, there were probably ten or even twenty pitches to outlets. I think people may also be surprised to learn how much thought goes into those quotes on the back of a book. We call them blurbs and think carefully about who we request them from, and the authors who provide blurbs spend a significant amount of time with a work to come up with those two sentences that appear on the back of a book. It’s a real craft. With the advent of digital marketing and metadata, the traditional channels for sharing and publishing information has gotten exponentially more interesting and complex.

Tucson has a thriving literary and scholarly community. What’s one of your favorite spots to hear authors, find a good book, or just curl up and read?

I really love hearing authors talk about their work or present their poetry. I’m incredibly grateful to Antigone Books and the UA Poetry Center for the opportunities they provide to connect authors and audiences. I also love the University of Arizona Bookstore’s selection of books. Whether it’s a preview of authors coming to the Tucson Festival of Books or the new University of Arizona Press books, they are a tremendous asset to our community. For reading, I just love hunkering down on the couch with a book, and my dog Petal curled up next to me. That’s the best kind of afternoon.

Gerard P. Kuiper’s Lunar Contributions

July 16, 2019

In Gerard P. Kuiper and the Rise of Modern Planetary Science, Derek W. G. Sears crafts an in-depth history of some of the twentieth century’s most interesting scientists, from Harold Urey to Carl Sagan, who worked with the father of modern planetary science. Now, as NASA and other space agencies explore the solar system, they take with them many of the ideas and concepts first described by Gerard P. Kuiper. In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, keep reading for a glimpse into Kuiper and the University of Arizona’s involvement in this exciting period of American history.

“It was the most extraordinary time, one that is hard to imagine many decades later. In 1961, when President John Kennedy made the commitment to land a man on the Moon by 1970, rockets were exploding on the launch pad… Eight years later, highly sophisticated, complex, large, manned spacecraft would touch down on the surface of the Moon within feet of their intended landing site. It took a lot of small steps, a lot of dedication, and a lot of stress to make it happen. Astronauts died in the effort. To Gerard Kuiper and his small group of lunar specialists in Tucson, the task was to produce maps and interpretations of the lunar surface and help with decisions concerning landing sites.”

“America’s decision to land a man on the Moon affected Kuiper in two ways. It led to the construction of a new building in Tucson, eventually to become the Kuiper Space Sciences Building… It also led to a series of robotic missions to the Moon. The science team led by Kuiper, who were amid publishing three atlases of the Moon, would be obvious candidates to participate in these programs.

The American robotic precursors for humans to land on the Moon consisted of three programs. The Ranger program was to be a series of spacecraft that would crash into the Moon and take close-up images as they did. The Lunar Orbiter program was to be a series of spacecraft that would, as their name implied, orbit the Moon and take photographs of the surface. Third, and the most sophisticated of the three programs, was to be the Surveyor program that would consist of robots that landed on the Moon.

Kuiper became involved in the Ranger and Surveyor programs in 1961 when he was asked to serve on committees advising the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, who were managing these programs… In 1961, Rangers 1 and 2 failed on launch. Rangers 3 and 5 missed the Moon. Ranger 4 hit the Moon but failed to return any data. In 1963 the project was reorganized, and Kuiper was asked to be the chief experimenter with a science team of Urey, Shoemaker, Whitaker, and Ray Heacock, a JPL engineer.”

“Four redesigned spacecraft were prepared, each with six TV cameras. At Kuiper’s suggestion, the TV system was tested in mock lunar landscapes at Goldstone Station in the Mojave Desert. Camera operations were carried out by Ralph Baker, who later joined the Optical Sciences Center in Tucson. The science team, especially Whitaker, played an important role in determining the impact sites for Ranger and the approach angles. Ranger 6 was another failure, but Ranger 7 was a spectacular success. It crashed just south of the Copernicus crater in a region now known, at Kuiper’s suggestion, as Mare Cognitum.”

“Kuiper arranged for LPL [Lunar and Planetary Laboratory] to make loose-leaf albums from the Ranger 7 prints, which required a local company, Ray Manley Commercial Photography, to make fifty thousand prints. In the rapid-fire days leading up to the Apollo landings, things moved fast. Ranger 8 hit Mare Tranquilitatis in February 1965, and Ranger 9 crashed near the Alphonsus crater a month later. Both were completely successful.”

“Never had the LPL attracted such attention. With this success came attempts by the NASA centers and JPL to recruit LPL scientists. Whitaker was approached JPL, Kuiper was invited to take a position at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., and both Gehrels and Kuiper were invited to move to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. Kuiper took great pleasure in recounting the details to President Harvill.”

Derek W.G. Sears was a professor at the University of Arkansas for thirty years and is now a senior research scientist at NASA. He has published widely on meteorites, lunar samples, asteroids, and the history of planetary science.

Celebrating the People of the Press: Scott DeHerrera

July 9, 2019

People of the Press is back this week! Inspired by the Association of University Presses celebration of the people of AUPresses, we would also like to celebrate our dedicated publishing professionals throughout our 60th anniversary year.

Today, we’re featuring our Assistant Editor, Scott DeHerrera.

Hi Scott, what you do for the Press?

I am responsible for acquiring titles in poetry and fiction for the Press’s two award-winning literary series, Sun Tracks and Camino del Sol. I also work closely with our Senior Editor, Dr. Allyson Carter, to bring in new titles in anthropology, Indigenous studies, archaeology, environmental science, and space science.

How long have you been working at UA Press?

10 years this June!

The University of Arizona Press is committed to helping contribute to an informed society and enlightening readers. What’s one interesting thing you’ve learned from your work?

In this era of smart phones and social media and technological overload, it’s easy to become jaded and begin to think people no longer have the attention spans required for reading more than 280 characters at a time; however, working in this position has taught me that is indeed not the case – people are reading now more than ever!

What would people be surprised to learn about your work?

I think people would be surprised to know how small our staff is given how many great titles we publish each year.

Tucson has a thriving literary and scholarly community. What’s one of your favorite spots to hear authors, find a good book, or just kick back and read?

Ever since I was a kid, Bookman’s has always been one of my favorite places to spend an afternoon.

Celebrating the People of the Press: Amanda Krause

June 27, 2019

Inspired by the Association of University Presses celebration of the people of AUPresses, we would also like to celebrate our dedicated publishing professionals throughout our 60th anniversary year!

This week, we’re featuring our Editorial, Design, and Production Manager, Amanda Krause.

What do you do at the Press, Amanda?

I help shepherd books through the Editorial, Design, and Production process, answering author queries; working with freelance copyeditors, proofreaders, and indexers and print vendors; maintaining our house style guide; and managing the schedules for book production to make sure books are published (and reprinted) on time.

How long have you worked at UA Press?

Six and a half years.

The University of Arizona Press is committed to helping contribute to an informed society and enlightening readers. What’s one thing you’ve learned from your work?

I feel like I am constantly absorbing knowledge from our authors and from our location at the University of Arizona Main Library, but perhaps my favorite piece of oddly specific trivia I’ve learned is that “on” is the correct usage when talking about national forests (as in “work on the national forest” rather than “work in the national parks”) — according to our author Ted Catton, this harkens back to the Forest Service’s early days when their primary role was managing grazing lands; you say “on the forest” just as you say “on the range”.

What would people be surprised to learn about your work?

Despite my role in editorial, I actually spend very little of my work day reading — because my role is so focused on project managing and finding and correcting specific errors in the text, I rarely have an opportunity to read our books cover to cover for work (though I do enjoy reading them for fun!).

Tucson has a thriving literary and scholarly community. What’s one of your favorite spots to hear authors, find a good book, or just curl up and read?

I am a huge fan of both Bookman’s and Antigone.

Sale on All Sun Tracks Titles

June 24, 2019

We are so thankful that Joy Harjo’s appointment as U.S. Poet Laureate will bring attention to Native artists. We’ve been publishing Native writers in Sun Tracks for nearly 30 years. We’re offering a 45% discount on all Sun Tracks titles through the end of June. Use discount code SUNTRACKS19 on our website.

Joy Harjo Named U.S. Poet Laureate

June 19, 2019

Joy Harjo (Mvskoke/Creek), an internationally known poet, writer, and musician, was named the 23rd poet laureate by the Library of Congress. The University of Arizona Press is the proud publisher of two books by Harjo:

For a Girl Becoming
With its rich, symbolic artwork and captivating language, For a Girl Becoming is the perfect gift to recognize a birth, graduation, or any other significant moment in a young woman’s life. Not only for children, this lively and touching story speaks to that part in each of us who still stands at the door of becoming.

Part of our award-winning Sun Tracks series, For A Girl Becoming is the winner of several awards. Launched in 1971, Sun Tracks was one of the first publishing programs to focus exclusively on the creative works of Native writers. The series includes more than eighty volumes of poetry, prose, art, and photography by such distinguished artists, including Joy Harjo.

Secrets from the Center of the World
This is Navajo country, a land of mysterious and delicate beauty. “Stephen Strom’s photographs lead you to that place,” writes Joy Harjo. “The camera eye becomes a space you can move through into the powerful landscapes that he photographs. The horizon may shift and change all around you, but underneath it is the heart with which we move.” Harjo’s prose poems accompany these images, interpreting each photograph as a story that evokes the spirit of the Earth. Images and words harmonize to evoke the mysteries of what the Navajo call the center of the world.

Here’s the announcement of Harjo’s appointment on NPR:

Here’s a link to The University of Arizona’s Poetry Center, where Harjo read from her work in 2016.

Above: Literary legends Allison Hedge Coke and Joy Harjo.

Celebrating UA Press: Past, Present, and Future

June 12, 2019

This week, our university press colleagues are gathering in Detroit for the annual Association of University Presses meeting where they are celebrating publishing successes and learning from each other about the important work of scholarly publishing. Just last week, the University of Arizona Press staff came together for its own celebration and brainstorming session.

Our hard-working staff of eleven put a pause on author meetings, copy editing, e-book making, and marketing to brainstorm and discuss the University of Arizona Press of the future.

It seems like the right moment.

This year marks sixty years of publishing in the Sonoran Desert. We are enjoying looking back and celebrating our growth and evolution into one of the premier scholarly presses in the Southwest. With sixty years of authors, editors, directors, advisory board member, peer reviewers, designers, booksellers, and, best of all, readers, there is so very much to be grateful for and celebrate.

Last week, we gathered in downtown Tucson for a day-long retreat, applying design-thinking practices to reflect and brainstorm around ideas of the UA Press of the future. The entire staff wholly and fully engaged in thoughtful and creative thinking. We asked ourselves provocative “what ifs.” Grounded in our mission to share scholarly communications and research, we proposed possible and even daring solutions that could continue to march that mission forward well into the future.

Every staff member is genuinely committed to continuing our growth and evolution. We are devoted to the legacies left to us by all who have worked for and supported the Press in the past.

After the retreat, our facilitator Shannon Jones wrote, “Watching you work as a dedicated, fun team was inspiring. Thank you for everything you are doing to make the Press such a valuable part of the UA and our community.”

To the University of Arizona Press past, present, and future, we celebrate your spirit, passion, commitment, and sense of community. Onward.

LASA 2019 Recap

June 6, 2019

Thank you to everyone who came by the University of Arizona Press booth to say hello and browse our books at the 2019 Latin American Studies Association in Boston. We loved having the opportunity to catch up with our authors and meet new scholars. To top it all off, the weather in Boston was beautiful all weekend, and there were many sights to see in the city.

UA Press author Emily Hind posing with her new book, Dude Lit.
Frederico Freitas with his UA Press book, Big Water, co-edited with Jacob Blanc.
Maria Teresa de la Piedra stopped by to say hello and pose with her book, Educating Across Borders.
Hannah Burdette came by with her daughter to say hello, and posed with her new book Revealing Rebellion in Abiayala.
Gloria Elizabeth Chacón with her new book, Indigenous Interfaces, co-edited with Jennifer Gómez Menjivar.
Anthony Pahnke visited our booth and posed with his UA Press book, Brazil’s Long Revolution.
It was so nice to see Aída Hernández Castillo at LASA. Here, she poses with her new book, Transcontinental Dialogues, as well as Multiple Injustices.
Many thanks to Ariel Zatarain Tumbaga for stopping by the booth and posing with his book, Yaqui Indigeneity.
It was so wonderful to see Paul M. Worley and Rita M. Palacios. Thanks for posing for a picture with your new book, Unwriting Maya Literature!

Latin American Studies 2019

May 22, 2019

We’re looking forward to seeing our authors and friends later this week in Boston for LASA2019. Please stop by Booth No. BH5 in the book exhibit to browse our latest offerings and receive a 40 percent discount on orders. If you can’t make it to Boston this year, you can still receive that discount now through our shopping cart by using code AZLASA19!

Our newest offerings in Latin American Studies:

Ofelia Zepeda Revisits When it Rains

When it was first published in 1982, When It Rains was one of the earliest published literary works in the O’odham language. Speakers from across generations shared poems that showcased the aesthetic of the written word and aimed to spread interest in reading and writing in O’odham. In a new forward to the volume, Sun Tracks editor Ofelia Zepeda reflects on how meaningful this volume was when it was first published and its continued importance. Below, read Ofelia’s thoughtful new forward to When It Rains.

Nat hab e-ju: g t-taccui?

Has our dream come true? It has been some thirty-six years since this little book, When It Rains / Mat Hekid O Ju, was published. Our dream at the time was to envision a flourishing contemporary literary body for the O’odham language. At that time in history, we had speakers from all generations, and it would have been tremendous to create a contemporary literary base for those speakers. Certainly, the goal for me was to be part of a group that created literature for the sole purposes of sharing the aesthetic of the written word and perpetuating interest in reading and writing O’odham. This is what I was working toward at the time–practicing writing, practicing reading, and, when I could or was asked, teaching other O’odham speakers to do the same. Since that time, we’ve come a long way with regard to printed matter for Indigenous languages; some languages certainly have been more successful than others, though few have expanded into the realm of contemporary literature. Just as it was thirty-six years ago, most printed works in Native languages are still for teaching or other academic purposes, relegating printed Native language to these settings.

But there is something uniquely different about it now. In 1982, when this volume was originally published, the first language of the teachers whose writing appears in this collection was O’odham–and it was the same for many of their students. Though these language teachers were bilingual in O’odham and English, most were not certified teachers but aides for their classrooms. During the 1980s federal law required many reservation schools to provide funding to support students’ efforts to transition from their Native languages to English. They used a bilingual approach, using both the target language (English) and the Native language to support the students’ transition to English fluency.

Today the language landscape for O’odham is very different; there is no longer a need for O’odham bilingual classrooms or the bilingual method of English education. Instead, teachers move from grade to grade and room to room, bringing O’odham language and culture to the O’odham students in the schools. Some of these teachers are fluent speakers of O’odham, some are limited in their ability to speak it, and still others are second-language learners of their language. Over the last thirty-six years–the span of a generation–O’odham has suffered extreme language loss. The 1990s experienced the greatest language shift to English for many Indigenous peoples such as the O’odham. This extreme shift to English and the loss of Native language has created an urgency to write the language down, to document it in all forms of media, to use it daily.

Currently, many Native American languages, like Tohono O’odham and Pima, are fading out of use. There are myriad explanations for this extreme language loss, including contact by dominant groups and other similar historical events, institutionalized religions, and educational systems generally but particularly boarding schools; the total causes are too many and complex to address here in detail. It must be noted, though, that due to both language shift and language loss, the teaching of both the oral and written forms of the O’odham language can be found largely outside the classroom.

Today, many tribes must necessarily move the teaching of their languages outside the schools and into the community. These community-based teaching settings invite multiple generations to come together to learn, maintain, and revive their language. In some of these settings, the language immersion method is used; this method relies on the oral form as the primary method for language transmission, though there are a number of opportunities to create written literature in the immersion setting. But even though it is not in the school, this literature’s primary purpose is to support language learning. Perhaps the best example is the case of Hawaiian language revitalization in which both oral and written language use have been promoted. Hawaiian is an exceptional case because, prior to colonization, the Hawaiian language had a rich history of writing and publication. The contemporary language revitalization movements have reached back to these early documents and have continued to add to all genres of printed literary production. Aside from this unique case, other U.S. Indigenous language revitalization movements have not been as successful in actively producing much new literary material in their languages.

Despite the tremendous changes that have occurred within the O’odham languages represented in this collection, it should be noted that one thing has not changed: that is that native speakers of O’odham, those who are learning it as a second language, and all those in between are all still struck with the beauty of the language and all that it is capable of rendering. As a speaker, poet, linguist, and teacher of the Tohono O’odham language, I am still amazed by the new words and usages that I come across. The language is still so new and beautiful with each discovery we make about it, and that discovery is in how people choose to use the language as it moves and changes through time. A mere thirty-six years has allowed us to witness changes in certain elements of the language–some of it good, and some not as positive. A language is allowed this flexibility to change and move according to modernity and the creativity of the people. It has always been that way.

But the changes of the language–whether good or bad–become irrelevant when O’odham gather and share the spoken words. Today, both in the Tohono O’odham Nation and in the Gila River Indian (Pima) Community, the people come together during the winter season to continue telling the story of the creation of the people that is all around them. These gatherings are typically hosted by museums and cultural centers or other formal organizations. As always, these events are communal, and people gravitate toward them. I believe the people understand the importance of these events, even though they have changed in appearance from the events of our parents’ and grandparents’ times. These storytelling gatherings remind people that the real purpose of language is to perpetuate our oral history, to remind us of our origins–of who we are. Stories are capable of this. This is what I understand to be the power of words, of language. This power that I wrote of thirty-six years ago is still there for the people, and I believe those who are now working at reclaiming spoken O’odham know this power is there in the words and that they are gaining more than just words when they learn to speak O ‘odham–whether it be Tohono O’odham or Pima.

Finally, I must comment on the content of the writing in this collection. The themes and experiences expressed in the writing of these people are still relevant today. While both the Tohono O’odham Nation and the Gila River Indian Community have grown and developed over time, they are still very rural communities with small villages dotting parts of the reservation; children still get bussed for miles to go to school, and their parents spend a couple of hours commuting to work each day. The rural desert environment also is still an important part of both children’s and adults’ lives; therefore, the themes written about thirty-six years ago are still applicable. There are words about the cycle of the seasons, about rain in the desert; there are words about the sacred mountains, and, of course, there are words of grief and loss and happiness. There are words about certain animals and about how to behave around them; many children still know of these rules. Things have changed, but many things remain the same. The pieces in this collection will be meaningful to many still.

It is important that I document here that when this collection was first released, we organized a poetry reading by the contributors of the collection. The reading was held in Sells, Arizona, the Tohono O’odham Nation’s seat of government. As we made preparations for this reading, it was hard to predict what would actually happen. This was the first poetry reading ever held on the reservation. We called on many of the contributors to read their piece, and many obliged. We had an emcee for the program, and the venue was the Tohono O’odham Nation’s tribal council building– the largest meeting place in Sells. It was one of the few places that had auditorium-style seating. We mailed invitations to dignitaries of the nation, school officials, and friends. We were not sure who or if anyone would come. I remember working on this with my friend and professor at the time, Larry Evers, who was then the series editor of Sun Tracks. On the day of the event, we made our way to Sells and set up for the reading. Slowly, people trickled in– adults, young people, elders, children. The auditorium was full. We shared our work, reading to a quiet and respectful audience, and afterward, as is typical with such events in the city, we served refreshments. Visiting with members from the audience and friends, I found out to my amazement that many of the tribe’s businesses had closed for the afternoon so that employees could attend the event and that schools had brought busloads of students. We were overwhelmed by their support– or maybe it was their curiosity about the event. Over time, whenever I speak of this experience, I like to think of this event as one that the people knew was going to be about words, making it so important that they all should be there. Though our reading of contemporary poetry was not a telling of the origins, it was perhaps in some way just as powerful.

This collection captured the voices of a small number of language educators, representing both the Tohono O’odham Nation (at the time known as Papago) and the Pima Indians. These educators all were attending a language institute where I was their instructor. I might mention that the language institute, now known as the American Indian Language Development Institute (AILDI), is still very much active at the University of Arizona; it continues to offer courses and training to meet the needs of Native American language teachers, researchers, resource people, and activists. I have been a teacher at AILDI for a long time, and the director for a number of years; during my work at AILDI, I have had the opportunity and honor to work with hundreds of language teachers from across the United States. All of them are special people– but none as special as the group whose writing is in this collection, and by my recollection, this is the first generation of literate O’odham. These educators’ first language was O’odham, and they were trained to read and write in that language. They were our pioneers.

It is poignant to note that some of these educators are no longer with us. I will be saddened to know that the reissuing of this collection will bring the memory of their loved ones to their respective families. I want them to understand that I help bring the memory of their family members with respect and honor. I also want them to understand that their contribution of their ha’icu cegitodag to this collection was truly special. They and their words are remembered here in this work.

Ofelia Zepeda
University of Arizona
July 24, 2018

Ofelia Zepeda is a poet, regents’ professor of linguistics at the University of Arizona, and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship for her work in American Indian language education. She is the current editor of Sun Tracks, which was launched in 1971 and is one of the first publishing programs to focus exclusively on the creative works of Native Americans.

Renegotiating Mvskoke Knowledge: Spiral to the Stars

May 14, 2019

All communities are teeming with energy, spirit, and knowledge. In the new book Spiral to the Stars, geographer Laura Harjo taps into and activates this dynamism to discuss Indigenous community planning from a Mvskoke perspective. The book poses questions about what community is, how to reclaim community, and how to embark on the process of envisioning what and where the community can be. Today we’re excited to share Harjo’s thoughts on conceiving a map to build genuine community relationships, knowledge, and power:

We watched television every day at my grandfather’s house, before cable, when there were only four channels: ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS. We watched The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune. Hosts Bob Barker and Pat Sajak crooned at us while we sat in Grandpa’s HUD home, situated in a Creek housing subdivision, with a gravel-dirt road leading in and out. Their voices droned from his console TV, which looked like a piece of wooden furniture; I only knew a handful of people who had a “fancy” TV like that. With game shows humming in the background and the smell of sliced USDA luncheon meat, commodity Spam, frying in the skillet in the kitchen, Grandpa would tell me medicine stories. Some seemed unfathomable—but I believed them and believe them still. He would start by telling me I needed to be able to take care of myself, before going on to teach me medicine songs and instructing me on contemporary uses of Mvskoke medicine. As times change, our needs change, and I learned from my grandfather that the songs and medicine shift to meet our current needs. One song he taught me was meant to be sung in a pawn shop when you want the proprietor to negotiate in your favor! The song’s purpose wasn’t to unfairly sway interactions but rather to make you heard and understood. Thus Creek values and ways morph into new manifestations and applications. Our ways are not bound to “traditional” use, and I think our relatives would think it was ridiculous if we refused to benefit from our knowledge and lifeways in the current day. The purpose of this story about my grandpa is to demonstrate a renegotiation of knowledge and its use as a tool. Our medicine does not stand still either, and its use is not frozen in time. In this book, I share other Mvskoke stories with a commitment to prioritizing the theories that come from the lived and felt experiences of Mvskoke communities, and practices born out of necessity and love.

The primary argument is that Mvskoke communities have what they need at their disposal; everyday community practices are deep, rich, and meaningful, and have sustained Mvskoke people through many moments and in many places. Community practices are articulated through Mvskoke relationships, knowledge, power, and spatialities. Despite the eliminatory work of the settler state, these Mvskoke practices, like those of other Indigenous and marginalized groups who are targeted by settler colonialism, have managed to fly under the radar undetected. Mvskoke communities have sustained the spaces to dream, imagine, speculate, and activate the wishes of our ancestors, contemporary kin, and future relatives—all in a present temporality, which is Indigenous futurity. Mvskoke futurity carries out a form of Indigenous futurity while honoring the lived experiences and knowledge of the Mvskoke community. Mvskoke experiences, practices, and theories generate four concepts fundamental to Mvskoke futurity: este-cate sovereignty (Indigenous kinship sovereignty); community (and body) knowledge; collective power; and the imagining, constructing, and accessing of Mvskoke spatialities.

Examining Mvskoke community through the lens of futurity enables us to step out of clashes over grievance claims for a moment and speculate about the future that our ancestors desired and that we desire, and about how to create something that our future relatives will want and need. The notion of futurity challenges a conventional reckoning of time and the future, and pushes us to create right now—in the present moment—that which our ancestors, we, and future relatives desire. As community builders, we often ask tactical sets of questions to develop a concrete plan, and then tell people that they are going to have to sit and wait, knowing that conditions will not improve in their time: their dreams will be for someone else. In other words, we tell them “not yet.” We cannot say “not yet.” I am not eschewing a long view of community; I am merely saying that futurity does not have to be limited to a future temporality, in which we have to wait to create and get to the place where we want to be. Indeed, there are a range of ways in which we are already enacting Mvskoke futurity to shift community conditions.

Shifting conditions and community contexts require us to renegotiate Mvskoke lifeways and practices. Sharing the story of my grandpa’s pawn shop song illustrates the ease with which renegotiation of Mvskoke knowledge and practices can occur. Spiral to the Stars recognizes Mvskoke ways of knowing as a legitimate source of power and recognizes that Mvskoke people embody, enact, and share power and knowledge in multiple spatialities. My operating definition of futurity is the enactment of theories and practices that activate our ancestors’ unrealized possibilities, the act of living out the futures we wish for in a contemporary moment, and the creation of the conditions for these futures. This is futurity: it operates in service to our ancestors, contemporary relatives, and future relatives. I employ futurity as an analytical tool throughout the book.

Mvskoke poet, musician, and playwright Joy Harjo’s poem “A Map to the Next World” urges us to think about Mvskoke futurities—the other possible worlds to live in that refuse elimination at the hands of settler colonialism.  In her poem, Harjo takes the reader through the prevailing world conditions and wonders about a map to the next world, offering suggestions of looking inward—the map is written into us. As a Mvskoke person, I consider Harjo’s poem a call to action, a call to conceive of a map to the next world. This is a significant endeavor that requires renegotiating Mvskoke knowledge—something we have always done. This book is just one idea for constructing a map, using futurity as an analytical tool. As an Indigenous mapper and cartographer, I develop way-finding tools that I will unpack in each chapter. I put into action my community knowledge and academic training to imagine tools that communities can use to operationalize their knowledge without requiring so-called experts to identify their areas of genius.

Laura Harjo is a Mvskoke scholar, geographer, planner, and Indigenous methodologist. She is an assistant professor of community and regional planning at the University of New Mexico.

Cover art: Chain of Being by Daniel McCoy Jr.

Open Arizona Expands Open Access Offerings

May 3, 2019

Eight new open access titles are now available in Open Arizona, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Selected by an advisory board of scholars and community members, the new additions include Henry Dobyn’s Spanish Colonial Tucson, Edward H. Spicer’s Pascua, and Arnulfo D. Trejo’s The Chicanos.

Kathryn Conrad, director of the UA Press and lead of the Open Arizona project, says, “We know that these titles were very influential to their fields when they were first published and have continued to be sources of critical and dynamic conversation. We hope that as open access works they continue to contribute to scholarly discourses. We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for providing the funding to allow us to make them available again in this new format.”

Open Arizona also includes new original essays by leading scholars, offering contemporary reflections on these once out-of-print works.

In the essay “Deliberate Acts: Peter M. Whiteley’s Hopi Hermeneutics and the ‘Collaborative Road‘” Thomas E. Sheridan contextualizes Whiteley’s continued relevance to ethnology and the importance of collaborative work with Indigenous communities. Sheridan is a Distinguished Outreach Professor at the University of Arizona. He has written or co-edited fifteen books, including Landscapes of Fraud: Mission Tumacácori, the Baca Float, and the Betrayal of the O’odham, which won the Past Presidents’ Gold Award from the Association of Borderlands Studies.

Open Arizona also includes a new essay by Lydia R. Otero titled “Reflecting on Shirley Achor’s Mexican Americans in a Dallas Barrio Forty Years Later.” Otero is the author of La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City and is an associate professor in the Department of Mexican American Studies at the University of Arizona. Deep family roots on both sides of the Arizona-Sonora border inspired Otero’s interest in regional history.

In the essay Otero writes, “Ethnic communities surrounding major urban areas across the United States are currently struggling to retain their cultural identity as the forces aligned with gentrification undermine their existence… The inclusion of Mexican Americans in a Dallas Barrio an important addition to the Open Arizona project. It is not only timely but critical.”

Why University Presses are a Good Investment

April 30, 2019

University presses ensure academic excellence and amplification of valuable scholarly research. We are also a good investment. As stewards of the resource investment from our parent institutions, we extend their brands to local and global audiences. Our colleagues Darrin Pratt, director of the University Press of Colorado, and Susan Doerr, assistant director of the University of Minnesota Press, recently wrote about the many ways university presses are a good investment in an article in University Business. Today we offer a brief excerpt:

Universities mobilize tremendous resources in support of a single pursuit: the advancement of research-based knowledge. Their careful stewardship of public and private resources to nurture knowledge yields returns that can be recognized not only on spreadsheets but also in the lives of students and communities.

More than 100 North American universities and colleges choose to invest in a university press—a mission-driven publisher that maintains rigorous standards in identifying, preparing, and delivering scholarly research to local, national, and global audiences. And, as a recent Association of University Presses’ survey indicates, university presses deliver substantially on these investments.

In 2018, the 61 US and Canadian presses that participated in this annual survey reported receiving a collective institutional budget of $32.3 million. From that allocation, the presses generated… read more

More than 100 North American universities and colleges choose to invest in a university press

Farid Matuk Receives Holloway Residency for Poetry

April 25, 2019

Congratulations to poet Farid Matuk, author of collection The Real Horse. He has been named visiting Holloway Professor in Poetry & Poetics at UC Berkeley. Farid will occupy the post in the spring of 2020.

The Holloway Series in Poetry is funded through an Endowment made by Roberta C. Holloway in 1981. Each academic year the Holloway Series honors one distinguished poet with a residency at the University of California, Berkeley. Residents teach a semester-long creative writing workshop, are welcomed in the annual fall faculty poetry reading, and give a featured reading in the Holloway Series.

A sustained address to the poet’s daughter, The Real Horse takes its cues from the child’s unapologetic disregard for things as they are, calling forth the adult world as accountable for its flaws and as an occasion for imagining otherwise. Offering a handbook on the possibilities of the verse line, the collection is precise in its figuring, searching in its intellect, and alert in its music. Farid interrogates the confounding intersections of gender, race, class, and national status not as abstract concepts but as foundational intimacies.

Learn More about the Halloway

SAA 2019 Recap

The 2019 Society for American Archaeology conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico was the highest attended meeting in 84 years. We loved talking with our authors, meeting archaeologists, and selling lots of books! Many, many thanks to everyone who stopped by the University of Arizona Press booth to say hello. Below, find some photos taken at the meeting.

Our Senior Editor, Allyson Carter, with The Life-Giving Stone author Michael T. Searcy.
Patricia A. Gilman with her two most recent UA Press books, New Perspectives on Mimbres Archaeology and Mimbres Life and Society.
It was great to see James M. Skibo, one of the editors of Archaeological Anthropology.
UA Press author Richard J. Chacon with his two edited volumes, Latin American Indigenous Warfare and Ritual Violence and North American Indigenous Warfare and Ritual Violence.
Stewart B. Koyiyumptewa, one of the editors of Moquis and Kastiilam.
It’s always a joy to see Paul E. Minnis, author and editor of many UA Press books, including New Lives for Ancient and Extinct Crops, Discovering Paquimé, and Ancient Paquimé and the Casas Grandes World.
Scott E. Ingram with his edited volume, Traditional Arid Lands Agriculture.
Thomas E. Guderjan, editor of The Value of Things.
Barbara J. Roth with her new edited volume, New Perspectives on Mimbres Archaeology.
UA Press author Tsim D. Schneider, editor of Indigenous Landscapes and Spanish Missions.
UA Press Senior Editor Allyson Carter with Eleanor M. King, editor of The Ancient Maya Marketplace.
Matthew A. Beaudoin with his new UA Press book, Challenging Colonial Narratives.
Robert W. Preucel and Samuel Duwe, editors of their new UA Press book The Continuous Path.

New Open Access Titles Now Available

18 April 2019

The University of Arizona Press is constantly working toward innovative, forward-thinking ways to connect our scholarship with readers worldwide. We are pleased to announce a new selection of titles in the fields of anthropology and archaeology are now available as open access (OA). The University of Arizona Press has been a leading publisher in those fields since it was founded by future-thinking members of the University of Arizona’s anthropology department 60 years ago.

Thanks to financial support from Knowledge Unlatched, we have been able to move six titles to OA format. The titles are available either via link on our website or directly through the OAPEN Foundation.

Now Available as OA:

Nature™ Inc.
Edited by Bram Büscher, Wolfram Dressler, and Robert Fletcher
With global wildlife populations and biodiversity riches in peril, it is obvious that innovative methods of addressing our planet’s environmental problems are needed. But is “the market” the answer? Nature™ Inc. brings together cutting-edge research by respected scholars from around the world to analyze how “neoliberal conservation” is reshaping human–nature relations.
OA Link

Foods of Association
Nina L. Etkin
This fascinating book examines the biology and culture of foods and beverages that are consumed in communal settings, with special attention to their health implications. Nina Etkin covers a wealth of topics, exploring human evolutionary history, the Slow Food movement, ritual and ceremonial foods, caffeinated beverages, spices, the street foods of Hawaii and northern Nigeria, and even bottled water. Her work is framed by a biocultural perspective that considers both the physiological implications of consumption and the cultural construction and circulation of foods.
OA Link

Reimagining Marginalized Foods
Edited by Elizabeth Finnis
This volume brings together ethnographically based anthropological analyses of shifting meanings and representations associated with the foods, ingredients, and cooking practices that of marginalized and/or indigenous cultures. Contributors are particularly interested in how these foods intersect with politics, nationhood and governance, identity, authenticity, and conservation.
OA Link

Nature and Antiquities
Edited by Philip L. Kohl, Irina Podgorny, and Stefanie Gänger
Nature and Antiquities analyzes how the study of indigenous peoples was linked to the study of nature and natural sciences. Leading scholars break new ground and entreat archaeologists to acknowledge the importance of ways of knowing in the study of nature in the history of archaeology.
OA Link

Mark Q. Sutton, Kristin D. Sobolik, and Jill K. Gardner
The study of paleonutrition provides valuable insights into shifts and changes in human history. This comprehensive book describes the nature of paleonutrition studies, reviews the history of research, discusses methodological issues in the reconstruction of prehistoric diets, presents theoretical frameworks frequently used in research, and showcases examples in which analyses have been successfully conducted on prehistoric individuals, groups, and populations.
OA Link

Women Who Stay Behind
Ruth Trinidad Galván
Women Who Stay Behind examines the social, educational, and cultural resources rural Mexican women employ to creatively survive the conditions created by the migration of loved ones. Using narrative, research, and theory, Ruth Trinidad Galván presents a hopeful picture of what is traditionally viewed as the abject circumstances of poor and working-class people in Mexico who are forced to migrate to survive. 
OA Link

Launching the Feminist Wire Books Series

April 17, 2019

Last Wednesday brought scholars from both sides of the country to the Old Pueblo to celebrate the long-awaited launch of The Feminist Wire Books Series. It was an honor to host series editors Monica Casper and Tamura Lomax, alongside Marquis Bey, Judith Pérez-Torres, Christine Vega, Michelle Téllez, Duchess Harris, and Julia Jordan-Zachery. It was a truly powerful night, culminating in a collective soul-bearing that reaffirmed our own mission to elevate under-supported voices in academia.

If you were unable to join us in person or via the live stream, you can watch the symposium via The Feminist Wire’s Facebook Page.

Tamura Lomax describing how she came to co-found The Feminist Wire, from the “intellectual Wu Tang Clan” to an online community and intellectual home for more than a million activists, scholars, and artists.
Marquis Bey discussing the intellectual history of his debut work in Them Goon Rules.
Co-editors of The Chicana M(other)work Anthology. From left to right: Judith Pérez-Torres, Christine Vega, and Michelle Téllez.
Co-editors of the forthcoming Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag volume Duchess Harris and Julia Jordan-Zachery.

Special thanks to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the University Libraries, the Office of the Provost, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, the Africana Studies Program and the Department of Religious Studies and Classics for their generous support of The Feminist Wire Book Symposium.

April 15, 2019

At this year’s Rocky Mountain Council for Latin American Studies, Rachel Corr was honored with the council’s prestigious Judy Ewell Award for Interwoven: Andean Lives in Colonial Ecuador’s Textile Economy.

The Judy Ewell Award honors the best publication, book or article, on women’s history or written by a woman, that began as a RMCLAS presentation.

Interwoven focuses on the lives of native Andean families in Pelileo, a town dominated by one of Quito’s largest and longest-lasting textile mills. Rachel Corr reveals the strategies used by indigenous people to maintain their families and reconstitute their communities in the face of colonial disruptions.

In the award ceremony, the committee said, “Interwoven is a tactile, resonant work that exposes the ties that bind the global to the local and reveals how the textile economy impacted indigenous families. Most crucially, Corr argues that despite the horrendous conditions that shaped their subjectivity, the “obraje Indians” of Pelileo found ways to forge connections with one another and create a semblance of community. This study will be required reading for all of those interested in indigenous labor, community, and ethnogenesis.”

Rachel Corr is an associate professor of anthropology at the Wilkes Honors College of Florida Atlantic University. She has conducted ethnographic fieldwork in Ecuador since 1990. She is the author of Ritual and Remembrance in the Ecuadorian Andes.

NACCS 2019 Recap

April 8, 2019

Thank you to the National Association of Chicanas and Chicanos Studies members and NACCS leadership for a fantastic meeting in Albuquerque. We are so grateful for the overwhelming support we received this year! Special thanks goes to Kathryn Blackmer Reyes, Associate Director, for the singular thought and care she invests in creating a welcoming, energetic, and successful exhibit space year after year. Thank you, Kathy! 

Below, find several photos our Editor-in-Chief, Kristen Buckles, took of our authors at the conference.

Yvette Saavedra with her new book, Pasadena Before the Roses.
Roberto Hernández with his UA Press book, Coloniality of the US/Mexico Border.
Gilda L. Ochoa with her book, Latino Los Angeles.
UA Press authors Lara Medina and Enrique Buelna with his new book, Chicano Communists and the Struggle for Social Justice.

We were thrilled to see some of The Chicana Motherwork Anthology editors and contributors. From left to right, Christine Vega, Yvette Martínez-Vu, Judith Pérez-Torres, Michelle Téllez, Gabriella Spears-Rico, Cecilia Caballero, and Nora Cisneros.

Margaret Bruchac Receives Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award

April 4, 2019

Margaret M. Bruchac and her book Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists received the prestigious Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award.  The book is the 11th winner of the award, which honors books in Indigenous studies.

Savage Kin restructures readers’ views of relationships between Indigenous informants, such as Gladys Tantaquidgeon, Jesse Cornplanter, and George Hunt, and anthropologists, such as Frank Speck, Arthur C. Parker, William N. Fenton, and Franz Boas. Like other texts focused on this era, it features anthropological luminaries credited with saving material that might otherwise have been lost. Unlike other texts, it highlights the intellectual contributions of unsung Indigenous informants without whom this research could never have taken place.

The book “distinguished itself among an impressive field of Indigenous scholars nominated for this year’s award,” said Labriola Book Award Selection Committee Chair David Martínez.

Established in 2008, the Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award celebrates books that focus on topics and issues that are pertinent to Indigenous peoples and nations. Of particular interest are those works written by Indigenous scholars or in which Indigenous persons played a significant role in the creation of the nominated work.

This is the second time a University of Arizona Press title has been honored with the award. In 2012, Daniel Herman was awarded for his work Rim Country Exodus: A Story of Conquest, Renewal, and Race in the Making, which examines the complex, contradictory, and very human relations between Indians, settlers, and Federal agents in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Arizona—a time that included Arizona’s brutal Indian wars.

AWP 2019 Recap!

April 3, 2019

Located in the heart of beautiful Portland, Oregon, the 2019 Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference was a huge success! We extend our greatest thanks to all of our authors and supporters of the Press for coming by our booth to say hello, dance, and buy books! We continued our partnership with the Latinx Writers Caucus this year, and many amazing authors affiliated with the Caucus signed books in our booth. Overall, it was an incredible AWP, and we look forward to seeing you all again in San Antonio next year!

Below, find some photos from this year’s AWP conference.

Our Assistant Editor, Scott DeHerrera, with poet Vickie Vértiz.
Poet Jennifer Givhan with poet Ysabel Y. Gonzalez signing their books at the UA Press booth.
Poet Casandra López with her new UA Press book, Brother Bullet.
We’re always happy to see Rigoberto González, thanks for stopping by!
The conference was minutes away from the iconic Portland Old Town sign, the beautiful river, and lots of fantastic local establishments.
Portland was exploding with blooms during the week of the conference.
It was nice to see this sign outside of the beloved Powell’s Books!

Bridging the Print and Digital Publishing Worlds

April 2, 2019

This spring marks the long-anticipated launch of The Feminist Wire Books: Connecting Feminisms, Race, and Social Justice. The series is an innovative collaboration between The Feminist Wire (TFW) and the University of Arizona Press that bridges the digital and print worlds.

The Feminist Wire has long provided an online community and intellectual home for more than a million activists, scholars, and artists.
Building on their mission to “valorize and sustain pro-feminist representations and create alternative frameworks to build a just and equitable society,” the book series provides a platform for longer-format critiques of popular culture, media, and politics from a diversity of perspectives The Feminist Wire followers have come to expect.

“At a time when misinformation and disinformation travel with head-spinning speed, TFW’s short-form books let readers pause,” said University of Arizona Press Director Kathryn Conrad during this year’s University Press Week. “They are provocative conversation starters that call us to think and to act.”

From Indigenous and Latinx studies to current anthropology, the Press has a long history in publishing works that elevate and examine the social and political issues our world faces. As we enter our sixtieth year, this series provides yet another exciting avenue to explore both contemporary and pertinent social justice issues.

“This partnership benefits both parties,” said Tamura Lomax, co-founder of The Feminist Wire. “The UA Press has an established reputation publishing books about race and social justice, thus serving as a strategic and welcoming outlet for books in this series.”

“Not only does it complement the Press’s charge to bring scholarship to readers all over the world, but it is yet another opportunity to engage with the wonderful students and faculty in our campus community,” said Conrad.

With the release of the first two titles within the series, we’re excited to bring the conversation to the University of Arizona campus with The Feminist Wire Books Symposium.

Slated for April 10, the symposium will host series editors Tamura Lomax and Monica Casper for an evening of readings and panel discussions with authors, contributors, and editors.

Marquis Bey will present his debut essay collection, Them Goon Rules, and his work to unsettle normative ways of understanding Blackness, Black feminism, and queerness.

“I’m hoping those who tune in take away a sense of how life persists amid abjection, and how radically recalibrating what we’ve come to know about Blackness and feminism and gender might give us over to a world that is otherwise than this, a world in which we all might finally be able to live,” said Bey, who is currently a PhD candidate in English at Cornell University.

Editors from The Chicana M(other)work Anthology will speak to their work to bring together emerging scholarship and testimonios by and about self-identified Chicana and Women of Color mother-scholars, activists, and allies who center mothering as transformative labor.

“I’m thrilled to have our project be part of this event not only because we get to be in conversation with other brilliant scholars and writers, but also because The Feminist Wire Books series already shows evidence of highlighting intersectional, groundbreaking scholarship and activism that is central to transforming the ways in which we understand knowledge production inside and outside of the academy,” said Michelle Tellez, an editor of The Chicana M(other)work Anthology and assistant professor in the UA Department of Mexican American Studies.

To close out the evening, Julia Jordan-Zachery and Duchess Harris will preview their forthcoming book in the series, Black Girl Magic Beyond the Hashtag, which

Special thanks to the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, the University Libraries, the Office of the Provost, the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies, the Africana Studies Program and the Department of Religious Studies and Classics for their generous support of The Feminist Wire Book Symposium.

Join us in celebrating The Feminist Wire Books, Wednesday, April 10 at 5:30 p.m. at the UA Women’s Studies Building (925 N. Tyndall Ave.) or via the livestream and stay tuned for more from the series.

The Tucson Festival of Books: Through an Intern’s Eye

March 20, 2019

By Victoria Elizabeth Wacik

During my brief three and a half years in Tucson, this quirky little town has grown very special to me, and I have become quite fond of the desert, the University of Arizona, and the kindness of the people here. As an avid reader, I had visited the Tucson Festival of Books before, but I had only wandered around the University of Arizona’s Mall aimlessly, with no plan, nor had I looked at any of the events or visiting authors. So with a large camera and University of Arizona Press badge in tow, I set off to truly experience the Tucson Festival of Books. It was hot, and crowded, and I got sunburned the first day (My native Pennsylvanian skin is still adjusting to the desert sun). I went to writing workshops and panels, did mini-science experiments, ate bugs, and submerged myself into the literary world.

The funny thing was that Tucson, and more expansively, the American Southwest, was special to many of the authors, too. Scott Whiteford, editor of Shadow of the Wall: Violence and Migration on the U.S.-Mexico Border (UAP, 2018), told me how Tucson, specifically the University of Arizona, was an interesting place to live in relation to his area of study, as the research for his book was all student-driven. The desert, both Tucson’s Sonora Desert and neighboring Mojave Desert, are special to Lawrence Walker, Rebecca Robinson, and Stephen Strom, all published authors by the University of Arizona Press. They all shared their touching personal stories and love for the deserts in their “Stories from Special Places” panel, discussing encounters with wildlife and natives, which I was lucky enough to be able to attend.

Not only did the Tucson Festival of Books give me the opportunity to speak with scholars and authors, it also allowed me to put faces to the names of authors that I worked with as an intern this year. Being able to speak to these scholars and hear them explain what inspired and motivated their projects, and seeing the excitement in their eyes when they spoke about their work was undoubtedly my favorite part of the Festival. This phenomenon was not uncommon during the weekend, as I observed many with this same expression as they found a particular book, learned something new, participated in an experiment, saw a performance, or found their favorite snack. The Tucson Festival of Books allows us to explore our interests as well as ourselves in a place truly loved by its inhabitants.

Victoria Wacik is an intern in our acquiring department. A senior at the University of Arizona, she is majoring in English with minors in Classics and French. She enjoys embroidery, hiking, and reading. Her poetry will be published in the Punk Lit Press, forthcoming April 2019.

Theorizing M(other)work

March 14, 2019

The Chicana M(other)work Anthology is a call to action for justice within and outside academia. Edited by Cecilia Caballero, Yvette Martínez-Vu, Judith Pérez-Torres, Michelle Téllez, and Christine Vega, with a foreword by Ana Castillo, this volume brings together emerging scholarship and testimonios by and about self-identified Chicana and Women of Color mother-scholars, activists, and allies who, using an intersectional lens, center mothering as transformative labor. Today, we offer a brief excerpt from this innovative new book.

Chicana M(other)work is a concept and project informed by our shared gendered, classed, and racialized experiences as first-generation Chicana scholars from working-class, (im)migrant Mexican families. Through Chicana M(other)work, we provide a framework for collective resistance that makes our various forms of feminized labor visible and promotes collective action, holistic healing, and social justice for Mother-Scholars and Activists of Color, our children, and our communities. Furthermore, rather than understanding Chicana identity as a singular monolith, we view it as ever evolving. Here we use the term “Chicana” conceptually to integrate our varying identitarian positionalities as cisgender mother-scholars who identify as Chicana, Xicana-Indigena, Chicana/x Latina, and Afro-Xicana.

“Chicana M(other)work is not a project of assimilating or diversifying academia; on the contrary, we aim to transform it.”

We are daughters of working-class Mexican migrant parents, and we are Chicana Mother-Scholars to Children of Color born in the United States. We use a Chicana feminist framework (Anzaldua 1987; Delgado Bernal 1998; Garcia 1997; Sandoval 2010; Tellez 2005; Villenas et al. 2006) as our theoretical grounding to explore and challenge white heteropatriarchy as it continuously marginalizes Women of Color in the academic pipeline (Harris and Gonzalez 2013; Solorzano and Yosso 2006). While we self-identify as Chicana Mother-Scholars, however, we do not view our work as restricted to academic or domestic spaces; rather, the concept Mother-Scholar transgresses these spaces. Our work exists in the classrooms, community, with each other, and with our children. We view our care work and mothering, specifically “motherwork” (Collins 1994), as an interwoven political act that responds to multiple forms of oppression experienced by Mothers of Color in the United States.

We borrow the term “motherwork” from Patricia Hill Collins and modify it by embracing the term “other” through the use of parentheses. Chicana M(other)work calls attention to our layered care work from five words into one—Chicana, Mother, Other, Work, Motherwork. We see Chicana M(other)work as being inclusive to Women of Color (trans and cis), nonbinary Parents of Color, other-mothers, and allies because mothering is not confined to biology or normative family structures. We strive to build community within and outside academic institutions, and one way we do this is by mothering others and ourselves (Gumbs 2010; Gumbs, Martens, and Williams 2016). Building on Chicana feminists’ critiques of institutional heteropatriarchal violence in the academy (Castaneda et al. 2014), Chicana M(other)work challenges increasingly corporatized neoliberal institutions by holding spaces accountable through activism when they are not supporting Mothers of Color and working-class families. In these ways, we make it clear that Chicana M(other)work is not a project of assimilating or diversifying academia; on the contrary, we aim to transform it, for instance, by choosing not to hide our children, instead including them within our work for social justice. Furthermore, despite the possibility of our individual upward mobility with our doctoral degrees, we will always remain committed to our poor and working-class origins. As such, Chicana M(other)work is a call to action for justice within and outside academia.

For Patricia Hill Collins (1994, 2000), her theorization of motherwork centers race, class, gender, and other intersectional identities to challenge Western ideologies of mothers’ roles. Collins’s theoretical framework disrupts gender roles and defies the social structures and constructions of work and family as separate spheres for Black women; it acknowledges women’s reproductive labor as work on behalf of the family as a whole rather than to benefit men. Motherwork also goes beyond the survival of the family by recognizing the survival of one’s biological kin, as well as attending to the individual survival, empowerment, and identity of one’s racial and ethnic community to protect the earth for children who are yet to be born. These concepts were instrumental for our own theorization of Chicana M(other)work. As Chicana Mother-Scholars, our concept of Chicana M(other)work is informed by the labor we perform in the neoliberal university model, which exploits our work as doctoral students, contingent faculty, and tenure-line faculty. Although women who are adjunct faculty now compose the new faculty majority in the United States, the difficulties of advancing in PhD programs and then into tenure-track and tenured careers are often framed as individual failings rather than fully recognized as institutional barriers that push Mothers of Color outside academia. In turn, the university is seldom held accountable for the institutional violence and exploitation faced by first-generation, low-income, and working-class Mother-Scholars of Color.

The editors of this volume are part of the grassroots collective, Chicana M(other)work, which offers a blog, podcasts, and original essays in an accessible venue.

About the Editors
Cecilia Caballero is a PhD candidate in the Department of American Studies and Ethnicity at the University of Southern California

Yvette Martínez-Vu is the assistant director of the University of California, Santa Barbara, McNair Scholars Program. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with a PhD in theater and performance studies from University of California, Los Angeles.

Judith Pérez-Torres is an adjunct faculty member at California State University, Fullerton, in the College of Education. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with a PhD in educational leadership and policy from University of Utah.

Michelle Téllez is an assistant professor of Mexican American studies at the University of Arizona. She is an interdisciplinary scholar with a PhD in community studies in education from Claremont Graduate University.

Christine Vega is a PhD candidate in the Social Sciences and Comparative Education Division at the University of California, Los Angles.

Jenny Davis Wins Beatrice Medicine Award

March 12, 2019

Jenny Davis has been named the recipient of the Beatrice Medicine Award for Best Monograph in American Indian Studies from the Native American Literature Symposium for her University of Arizona Press book Talking Indian: Identity and Language Revitalization in the Chickasaw Renaissance.

Talking Indian explores community, tribal identity, and language during rapid economic and demographic shifts in the Chickasaw Nation. These shifts have dramatically impacted who participates in the semiotic trends of language revitalization, as well as their motivations. Jenny L. Davis uncovers how such language processes are intertwined with economic growth.

Jenny L. Davis is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, where she is also the director of the Native American and Indigenous Languages (NAIL) Lab and affiliated faculty in the American Indian Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies Departments.

Two University of Arizona Press Titles Named Foreword Book Award Finalists

March 11, 2019

Two University of Arizona Press books were named finalists today in the Foreword Reviews 2018 Indies Book of the Year Awards.

Mark Nelson’s Pushing Our Limits is a finalist in the Ecology & Environment category. One of the eight crew members locked in Biosphere 2 during its first closure experiment, Mark Nelson offers a compelling insider’s view of the dramatic story behind the mini-world. Nelson clears up common misconceptions about the 1991–1993 closure experiment as he presents the goals and results of the experiment and the implications of the project for today’s global environmental challenges and for reconnecting people to a healthy relationship with nature.

Stephen Strom’s Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land was named a finalist in the Regional Books category. This book captures the singular beauty of Bears Ears country in all seasons, its textural subtleties portrayed alongside the drama of expansive landscapes and skies, deep canyons, spires, and towering mesas. To photographer Stephen E. Strom’s sensitive eyes, a scrub oak on a hillside or a pattern in windswept sand is as essential to capturing the spirit of the landscape as the region’s most iconic vistas. Years from now, this book may serve as either a celebration of the foresight of visionary leaders or as an elegy for what was lost.

According to a Foreword Reviews press release, more than 2,000 entries spread across 56 genres were submitted for consideration. Finalists were determined by Foreword’s editorial team. Winners are now being decided by a panel of librarian and bookseller judges from across the country.

Winners in each genre—along with Editor’s Choice Prize winners and Foreword’s Independent Publisher of the Year—will be announced June 14, 2019.

A Look Back at the 2019 Tucson Festival of Books

March 8, 2019

An estimated 130,000 book lovers attended this past weekend’s 11th annual Tucson Festival of Books. We’ve been a proud supporter of the festival since its inception, and we’re thrilled to have had more than thirty of our authors participate in panels, readings, and booth signings during this year’s event.

Several of our natural history and environmentally focused authors took the stage with our friends at the Western National Parks pavilion, including Fred Landau, Lawrence Walker, Rebecca Robinson, and Stephen Strom.

Internationally renowned, award-winning essayist Ilan Stavans presented his UA Press Latinx Pop Culture series book Sor Juana at both the Pima County Libraries Nuestra Raices and UA Social and Behavioral Sciences stages.

Mario T. García, who has published more than twenty books on Chicano history, also flew in for the event. He presented his most recent UA Press book The Making of a Mexican American Mayor.

We also had a number of authors with local connections participating, including Michelle Téllez, Scott Whiteford, Anna O’Leary, Maritza Cardenas, Gary Stuart, and Stephen J. Pyne.

Today we look back at some of the highlights of the two-day event:

William Sheehan, coauthor of Discovering Pluto, with University of Arizona Press Senior Editor Allyson Carter.
Scott Whiteford holds up a copy of his co-edited anthology The Shadow of the Wall.
Michelle Téllez presents her co-edited anthology Chicana Motherwork, from The Feminist Wire Books series, next to Maritza Cardenas, who contributed to the U.S. Central Americans volume.
Gary Stuart proudly signs copies of all three of his UA Press titles, including his just released biography of Ernest W. McFarland, Call Him Mac.

Rebecca Robinson and Stephen Strom stopped by the booth before their panel to sign copies of both their Bears Ears National Monument–focused books, Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land and Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land.

Pat Mora Spreads “Bookjoy” at TFOB and Annual UA Libraries Luncheon

March 7, 2019

Author, speaker, educator, and literacy advocate Pat Mora had a whirlwind weekend at the Tucson Festival of Books. Her weekend started off with a panel exploring ways to bring the joy of poetry to children, moderated by Tucson’s own Jennifer Flores. Next she joined Tucson poets Logan Philips, Mele Martinez, and Mari Herreras for a community reading of her latest collection, Encantado.

Inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology and Thornton Wilder’s Our Town, Mora’s Encantado paints a vivid portrait of a community through its inhabitants’ own diverse voices.

Each poem forms a story that reveals the complex and emotional journeys we take through life. Mora shares the thoughts of Encantado’s residents—the mothers and sisters, brothers and fathers in whom we see slivers of ourselves and our loved ones—and brings us to the heart of what it means to join in a chorus of voices. A community.

Mora was thrilled to partner with Tucson’s own unique poetic voice. “I have always wanted to hear Encantado, the voices performed by a community of poets,” said Mora after the panel.

Before heading back to Santa Fe, Mora was honored to be the keynote speaker for the University of Arizona Libraries’ Annual Luncheon. She read poems from Encantado and spoke to the importance of libraries. She told the audience, “Supporting university libraries is noble work—they are treasure houses.”

Mora has dedicated her life to inspiring readers of all ages. She is the founder of Children’s Day, Book Day/El día de los niños, El día de los libros, an internationally recognized celebration of reading. Through all of her work, Mora promotes creativity, inclusivity, and what she calls, “bookjoy.”

Pat Mora speaks to her lifelong commitment to literacy advocacy and her El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) epiphany.
University of Arizona Press Assistant Editor Scott De Herrera, Director Kathryn Conrad, and author and literacy advocate Pat Mora.

Celebrate the 2019 Tucson Festival of Books

February 27, 2019

This weekend, 130,000 book lovers will arrive in the Old Pueblo for the Tucson of Festival of Books. Help us celebrate, no matter where you are!

If you’re in Tucson, please come by booth No. 239 and browse our books, meet our authors, and say hello to our staff!

We’ll be offering 60th Anniversary tote bags for purchases of $60 worth of books or more.

Before These Poems, and After: Francisco X. Alarcón’s Snake Poems

February 21, 2019

The late Francisco X. Alarcón (1954–2016) was an award-winning Chicano poet and educator. He authored fourteen volumes of poetry, published seven books for children through Lee & Low Books, and taught at the University of California, Davis, where he directed the Spanish for Native Speakers Program.

He was a poet who lived beyond borders. His poetry straddled cultures and bridged generations. His words are carried on in the spark he ignited in the great many readers, fellow writers, and dreamers his life touched.

For beloved writer and mentor Francisco X. Alarcón, the collection Snake Poems: An Aztec Invocation was a poetic quest to reclaim a birthright. Originally published in 1992, the book propelled Alarcón to the forefront of contemporary Chicano letters.

This spring, the University of Arizona Press is honored to release a special edition of Snake Poems as a tender tribute to Alarcón, who passed away in 2016. This edition includes Nahuatl, Spanish, and English renditions of the 104 poems based on Nahuatl invocations and spells that have survived more than three centuries. The book opens with remembrances and testimonials about Alarcón’s impact as a writer, colleague, activist, and friend from former poet laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and poet and activist Odilia Galván Rodríguez, who writes, “This book is another one of those doors that [Francisco] opened and invited us to enter. Here we get to visit a snapshot in time of an ancient place of Nahuatl-speaking ancestors, and Francisco’s poetic response to what he saw through their eyes.”

Today on Francisco X Alarcón’s birthday, we’re pleased to share scholar and renowned poet Alfred Arteaga’s thoughts on the collection and Alarcón’s enduring legacy:

This present collection is something much more than just another new volume by a contemporary poet. For as new as Snake Poems is, it is bound inextricably to the past. It is like the serpent of fire that opens up its mouth to meet its double at the center of the exterior ring of the Sun Stone commonly known as the Aztec calendar. This text by Californian poet Francisco X. Alarcón is an encounter with another test completed in 1629 by one Hernando Ruiz de Alarcón, a Catholic parish priest from Atenango, a small town in the present state of Guerrero, Mexico.

The poetry of Snake Poems emerges as an encounter with the Ruiz de Alarcón’s colonial manuscript on Native American beliefs, Tratado de las supersticiones y costumbres gentílicas que hoy viven entre los indios naturales desta Nueva España (Treatise on the Superstitions and Heathen Customs That Today Live Among the Indians Native to This New Spain). Ruiz de Alarcón labored more than ten years compiling, translating, and interpreting the Nahuatl spells and invocations. The only extant copy of the handwritten Tratado is now found in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City.

Ruiz de Alarcón’s Tratado was compiled a hundred years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico and remains one of the most important sources on Native religion beliefs and medicine. Its importance lies in the spells, curing practices, and myths that were transcribed in the original Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. It is this language transcription that allows so much of the original speakers to come to us today, despite the compiler’s insidious intent. Simply stated, Ruiz de Alarcón wrote on a mission for the Christian God, to expose heathen practice among the Indians and to extend the repressive practice of the Spanish Inquisition in Mexico. To gather the raw data for his catalog of practices, the author did not stop short of torturing his informants. Ruiz de Alarcón was admonished for his overzealous interview techniques and yet was able to finish his work undisturbed. Ironically, he was even promoted to ecclesiastical judge because of the extreme zeal of his faith.

What Francisco X. Alarcón has captured from the Tratado in Snake Poems is the spirit of the Indian informants, a sense of Native culture alive, despite efforts to misread and suppress it.

Francisco X. Alarcón’s poems reflect the worldview and belief systems of Indians of Mexico three and a half centuries ago. But clearly, Snake Poems is poetry, not ethnography, and the reflection it casts of the Tratado is nowhere near a mirror image. It is good that this is so. The poems are poems that stand as such, completely on their own. What Francisco X. Alarcón has captured from the Tratado in Snake Poems is the spirit of the Indian informants, a sense of Native culture alive, despite efforts to misread and suppress it.

Commentators on the Tratado frequently mention Ruiz de Alarcón’s poor translation and weak evaluation of some spells in Nahuatl, which seem only guided by his religious prejudice and cultural bias. Francisco X. Alarcón reads through the Tratado, past the surface prepared for the Inquisition, down to the living speakers, whose spells and chants and beliefs are recorded, down to Martín de Luna, Mariana, Domingo Hernández, Magdalena Petronila Xochiquetzal, and other named Indians. And while their words can only come by way of Ruiz de Alarcón, Snake Poems reflects the gaps, the lacunae, the interstices of cultural survival.

All quotations and references that appear in Snake Poems come directly from Ruiz de Alarcón’s Tratado, with five very telling exceptions. There is an invocation by the Mazatec María Sabina and a quote from the New Mexican weaver Agueda Martínez. There are allusions to living poets, to the Chicanos Tino Villanueva and Lucha Corpi and the Nicaraguan poet, priest, and former Sandinista Minister of Culture Ernesto Cardenal. For Francisco consciousness survives not only in the collective memory but also in the live words of the descendants of the original Indian authors. So, while the poem “Mestizo” celebrates the many strands that meet the hybridize in New World people, the epigraph by Agueda Martínez grounds identity very clearly, “ya que seamos hispanos, mexicanos; somos más indios”: more than Hispanics or Mexicans, we are Indians.

There are 104 Snake Poems, not an arbitrary number but one chosen for its significance in Native thought. The Mesoamerican calendar is based on a fifty-two-year cycle: half of 104. It is as if one cycle was completed with the first translation of Nahuatl thought, Ruiz de Alarcón’s Tratado, and the second cycle occurs now with Snake Poems. The first section of Snake Poems, “Tahui,” contains twenty poems, one for each day of the Mesoamerican month. The final section, “New Day,” contains six poems, alluding to the new era of the Sixth Sun.

The poems are spare in line length and in language. Nothing is wasted; very much is said. On the page, some of the poems appear long and lean like serpents on the desert floor. And there are the illustrations that somehow seem as much at home beside English and Spanish as they do beside Nahuatl. Beside the epigraph of Tino Villanueva’s invocation to Tlacuilo, there is the image of the writer, the speaker, making words. Image and form intertwine with the voices and languages of the past and present: a poetics of ancient oral magic and modern verse. Snake Poems is alive with a simultaneously present and past passion and concern; it brims with the spirit of those who sang despite the fact that their very songs could lead to punishment and death.

Read these poems as expressions of life, as a celebration of the Native heritage of Mestizo America. Some poems uplift and some are humorous, and when taken together, they sing in collective spirit, vigorous, denying death. But then: stop reading, put your ear to the page, and hear the faint yet persistent echoes. I do.

Alfred Arteaga

English Department, University of California, Berkeley

February 20, 2019

A series of essays that reads like a critical memoir, Marquis Bey’s Them Goon Rules queries the function and implications of politicized Blackness, Black feminism, and queerness. Bey binds together his personal experiences with social justice work at the New York–based Audre Lorde Project, growing up in Philly, and rigorous explorations of the iconoclasm of theorists of Black studies and Black feminism. Bey’s voice recalibrates itself playfully on a dime and today we’re excited to share a brief excerpt from this much anticipated debut:

Whence We Are Sent

These people are my access to me; they are my entrance to my own interior life. Which is why the images that float around them—the remains, so to speak . . . surface first, and they surface so vividly and so compellingly that I acknowledge them as my route to a reconstruction of a world, to an exploration of an interior life that was not written and to the revelation of a kind of truth.

—Toni Morrison, “Site of Memory”

I was sent, tell that to history.

—Lorna Goodison, “Nanny”

If I am here, wherever here is, it is because I was sent here by folks who have been putting in work for a minute. I am here with them even if they are not where I am. We collide in a critical intimacy where what I say is only possible because it has been made so by things that they’ve already said. A method for living, of sorts, this intimacy is rugged. This intimacy fissures boundaries imposed, a method that methodically interrogates methodology. Methodological interrogation is the fugitivity I will be speaking about; it is a way of inhabiting the world, a posture of interrogation and refusal, like on some perpetual Nah-type shit; a breaking of the regime that tried to fix us but didn’t know that we arose in the breaking, were made by a breakage that generates the refusal to be broken. A sustenance by way of getting out of the maelstrom of the typical is what I mean. The sustenance is engendered by experimentation, improvisation, unruliness, because their rules stifle what comes in the break of the cut. It’s where we keep finding life lived otherwise, life on the run in inexhaustible exhaustion.

If this running is a political, disruptive act, then here I want to engage that disruption, revel in it, let it flex on ’em with humbled hubris. The life of my mind, my intimate, my private past, is, as any feminist worth their salt will tell you, deeply political. I want to speak from that private, underground place where sinners dwell, where sin as a transgressive act against divine law is what is shared between us; where we keep open secrets of queer conspiracies whispered on underground rooftops; where we use vernacular, words that break free of grammar’s lexical dictates: we fix food instead of cook it, cut instead of turn lights on, so they can’t figure out what we talmbout. Our den of sin, as it were, our promiscuous and shadowy presence, preserves a space for stowaways to be, and choose to be, stowed. This is fugitive coalition, fugitive kinship. This shadowy, stowaway presence, reminiscent of wrecked ships—which is to say, ships we have brought wreck to—is the knowledge and livelihood of fugitivity.

I grew up in Philly and its outskirts, where hip-hop was our unofficial language (Power 99 fm; 100.3 The Beat!), unlaced Timberland boots and Carhartt jackets were our unofficial uniforms, summer mornings were the color of orange juice mixed with fresh blood, and you carried an entire archive of meaning based on which part of Philly you repped. We lived right next to an abandoned house, no porch—like, that shit was just gone—so my cousin Marcus and I would go down into the basement of the house, rummaging around in the subterranean belly of its structure, before we’d get scared and run out. (Well, I got scared.) Unbounded curiosity, we youngbuhls had. To dare to explore without the presumption of conquest, an exploration of the interstices of the indoors with the wilderness-knowledge of the outdoors, is an outlawish and out-of-lawish praxis. And it stretched to our imaginations: we revised video game narratives, yearning for larger worlds. We imagined worlds filled with live Pokémon, with Charizard’s and Mewtwo’s tenacity. We lived loudly in our minds, oozing with vitality while simultaneously surrounded by poverty. We tried to remain afloat, but some of us did not, as they misguidedly say, “make it.” Marcus fell prey to the conditions that middle-fingered our lives from our inception. His thin 6′3″ frame not eradicated, but reduced to being bound indoors with cigarettes and television. Now, more than two decades later, still two years older than me, still funny on the sneak, still with calligraphic handwriting, Marcus rests largely skill-less and jobless after a raucous bout with  drugs—marijuana, cocaine, heroin too—and diagnosed schizophrenia. What happened here, cuz? What stingy alchemy concocted a brew so pungent as to singe your flourishing?

He seemed to have picked up a fate similar to that of so many people we cohabited around. The plight of the Black and poor. But I am awed, truly, at how joyous and dope our lives were despite the fact that we were geographically destined for not only economic but also emotional poverty. I am awed, in other words, at how we still live. We crack jokes in the face of abjection. Like that Christian messiah who did not die, who is said to live perpetually in the all of the world, we have always and already risen, Jesus-like, because the only ones who can feed that many people with such paltry rations are “big mamas.”

It’s like Double Dutch in the streets, making the passing cars wait until you trip up—but you never trip; like laughing at cartoons, your  body and the TV on the floor so the bullets flying inches above you from drive-bys don’t interrupt Spongebob and Patrick’s shenanigans; like cookouts where your niece is telling everyone how beautiful her dark skin is because the sun loved her so, so, soooo much, or where your uncle is acting a fool, talking about how he “still got it” even after his six decades of life. Despite every reason not to, we still smile, we still laugh, we still love, we still Black, y’all. We still. We lived, we sang, we danced, we gleaned textured life from a milieu that said we weren’t supposed to celebrate our own existence. Our joy was, and still is, radical.

We made do with what we did and didn’t have. Imaginative games became not only fun but also life-sustaining. We flourished in the face of abjection, like Nah, we don’t do that over here. And we made do, in the simplest of ways. Like, you wanna play some basketball? Well, you ain’t got no court, but you do have a milk crate, some nails, and a telephone pole. We cut out the bottom of one of those orange milk crates, climbed on somebody’s shoulders, hammered some nails into that jawn, and voilà, basketball in the ’hood. I was forged in this resilient and inventive space.

Marquis Bey is a PhD candidate in English at Cornell University. He has received fellowships from Humanities New York and the Ford Foundation.

But when I wasn’t shooting hoops—or rather, shooting crates—I dwelled in the recesses of my own fraught mind, the “break” in which Black life is situated, where unavoidable subjection meets a radical breakdown. Or a radical boogeydown. I was a precocious kid, but quiet. I preferred to listen—listen for knowledge, for language, for the texture of the in-between space housing the incendiary edges of life.  I’d lay low, though that is not to say that something wasn’t going on. I spoke infrequently, as I understood the consequences of speaking out of turn, “talking back.” In the “old school” from which Mom and Grandma hail, where they plait switches to tear into insolent youngsters, children were meant to be seen, not heard; they were meant to be obedient, to stay in line, which stifled my unchained and unchainable thoughts. But I knew not to invite punishment, the backhand lick, the slap across the face that would catch you off guard, the I wish you would. My laying-low covert ops were a strategy of survival, a way to ensure the continuation of the thoughts they couldn’t stop me from thinking.

Marquis Bey’s debut essay collection unsettles normative ways of understanding Blackness, Black feminism, and queerness. Them Goon Rules is an un-rulebook, a long-form essayistic sermon that meditates on how Blackness and nonnormative gender impact and remix everything we claim to know.

Five Questions with Poet Jennifer Givhan

Quantum Entanglement & Traversing the Desert Circus: Discussing the Vibrant World of Rosa’s Einstein and Poetic Healing

February 15, 2019

Rosa’s Einstein is a Latinx retelling of the Brother’s Grimm’s Snow-White and Rose-Red, reevaluating border, identity, and immigration narratives through the unlikely amalgamation of physics and fairy tale. Jennifer Givhan offered insightful and beautiful responses to a few questions that come to mind when reading her new collection.

What drew you towards including Albert Einstein and his mysterious lost daughter Lieserl as significant figures in this collection?

I’d become obsessed with time travel while breastfeeding my daughter and struggling with postpartum depression in a new landscape— we’d moved from the Southern California desert on the Mexicali border to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’d set to work on a new novel, Trinity Sight (forthcoming this October, 2019, from Blackstone Publishing), about a Latina anthropologist who falls into an indigenous myth, and I sought ways to coalesce science and faith. I also sought succor for my deep depression and the fear and anxiety it wrought. All of this concurring, I read A Brief History of Time after seeing Stephen Hawking on a David Blaine street magic showcase on television, I watched every episode of Through the Wormhole fanatically, as though it were gospel, as though it could save me (from myself), and I came upon Einstein’s first wife Mileva Maric in a poetry collection by Van Jordan called Quantum Lyrics (it’s gorgeous— you should read it). Absolutely fascinated, I took to the internet and began studying their lives, how Maric helped Einstein out with many of his earliest equations and papers, and how she is not credited anywhere, and discovered that while in school together, she bore his child out of wedlock, and that child virtually disappeared from history as well. She haunted me. The amalgam of mother/daughter relationships, women/girls lost to history— and their haunting power, their intelligence, their creativity, their possibility with them— sent me half-scurrying, half-falling down the poetry hole as Rosa led the way. And I realized, of course, Lieserl (Einstein’s lost daughter) and Nieve (the counterpart sister to Rosa) truly orchestrated the show. Deeper and deeper into the desert circus I went. Along the way, healing, healing.

What inspired you to weave the concepts of physics and fantasy together in Rosa’s Einstein?

They ever-connect for me. The possible and the impossible connected by a thread we’re unraveling, together, as we breathe and write and love our way through our lives. I’ve become enamored of the mathematics that bind us together, and though I am not a mathematician and cannot follow the equations, I’ve had the joy of my life working through the impossible/possible conundrum through language, through poetry, through story. They are one and the same. There is no conundrum. We are all expressions of the selfsame whole. And there is such peace in that, for me.

How did you decide to blend a distinctly Latina experience with a figure of German and Serbian descent?

One of the poems in the collection, “Reinas de STEM,” speaks of the seeming lack of representatives and role models in the sciences for Latinas. Growing up, I never learned about women of color. Especially not in relationship to the sciences. My own father is a scientist, and taught high school Chemistry and Physics all through my childhood. He is of German descent, and now has white hair, a white beard. In many ways, I sought to recreate my own childhood in this collection, with a definitive twist. Latina girls are front and center. We lead the way. Einstein follows us. The next creations, the next discoveries, await us— they are ours for the claiming.

What parallels can be drawn between Rosa and Lieserl that cross the boundaries of culture?

This collection is a lovesong for all precocious girls wandering the deserts, creating ruckuses and circuses and finding love where before there was only pain— for all the lost daughters of time, reclaiming ourselves, singing ourselves, triumphant. This is our hero’s journey.

Did your interest in quantum physics and other scientific concepts precede your decision to craft Rosa’s Einstein, or did it manifest from the work you put into this collection?

It’s quantum entanglement. Though Einstein called it spooky action at a distance and claimed he didn’t believe. My heart believes. Nothing is random. We are all connected. The science saved me as the poetry saves me— and I pray something in Rosa, Nieve, and Lieserl’s journey saves at least one reader. Then we are entangled forever in this ever expanding Universe where I’m determined the final rule is this: love.

Below, find a poem selected from Rosa’s Einstein.

Lieserl’s Yellow
What I'm searching for, Father,
what I'm trying to tell you in my simple way:
you spoke in the language of mathematics
beautifully precise— & I never spoke at all
beyond the sounds babies make for pleasure
but these like soft, round toes or grubby fingers
so full of life—
Remember how I pulled you off the couch
& your head hit the floor when the coal-burning
stove would have killed you?
They say it was your friend Zangger
but it was your little ghost of a girl
you must have known all along for you said:
Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute,
it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour,
it seems like a minute. That's relativity.
It's an act of peace, communicating with the dead—
yellow against yellow.
I've become a periodic
table of elemental disasters
flowering despite the last frost
                   before spring, come too soon. 

Jennifer Givhan is an NEA Fellowship recipient and author of three previous collections of poetry, including Girl with Death Mask. She teaches English at Western New Mexico University.

A Book Lover’s Paradise: The 11th Annual Tucson Festival of Books

We’re nearly three weeks away from Tucson’s largest literary event! The Tucson Festival of Books is one of the largest literary festivals in the country, regularly drawing more than 300 authors from across the U.S. and more than 135,000 attendees.

The University of Arizona Press is proud to have been a part of the Festival since its inception in 2009, and we look forward to continuing to bring diverse voices in literature to the Old Pueblo.

Panels for Everyone

We are thrilled to have more than twenty authors participating in this year’s festival.

Ilan Stavans and Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez will discuss the multi-layered and complex history of the borderlands of North America. They will discuss the Spanish and their on-going influence on our region during the panel “El Norte: Beyond Standard Narratives.”

From the Mojave Desert to Bears Ears, the Southwest contains some of the most special landscapes on the globe. Panelists Rebecca Robinson, Stephen Strom, Lawrence Walker, and Frederick Landau discuss the special places they’ve recorded in their new books, and how photography and storytelling help them and their readers connect with those places in their panel “Stories from Special Places.”

What makes a great moment in history? Is it the people? Or the times in which they live? Authors Gary Stuart, Mario García, Heidi Osselaer have written biographies of politicians who reached great political heights, serving their communities. What propelled them? They will talk about this during their panel “Capturing the Political Zeitgist.”

Three important contemporary voices, Maritza Cardenas, Luis Plascencia, and Anna O’Leary, track Latino identity in the U.S. today across different times, geographies, and generations. These identities range from Mexican workers to Central American immigrants to the emerging Latinx generation. They will discuss this and more during their panel “Contested Latino Identities: Past, Present, and Future.”

Meet Our Authors

Stop by our booth for special discounts, to meet our authors, and to get your University of Arizona Press books signed. Be sure to download the Tucson Festival of Books app and look for us in booth #239!

Saturday, March 2

Scott Whiteford and Ilan Stavans at 11:30–12:00 p.m.

William Sheehan at 12:00–12:30 p.m.

Gary Stuart and Mario García at 12:30–1:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 3

Maritza Cardenas and Michelle Tellez at 10:00–10:30 a.m.

Lawrence Walker and Frederick Landau at 12:00–12:30 p.m.

Rebecca Robinson and Stephen Strom at 12:30–1:00pm

Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez, Luis Plascencia, and Gloria Cuádrez at 1:30–2:00 p.m.

The Tucson Festival of Books is from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., March 2–3, 2019, on the campus of the University of Arizona. See for the complete schedule of events.

Pushing Publishing Boundaries, Sharing Open Access Scholarship

February 6, 2019

The University of Arizona Press is pleased to announce the launch of Open Arizona. This new online portal allows the press to bring back out-of-print titles as open access (OA) e-books.

The books available on Open Arizona focus on the histories and experiences of Indigenous and Latino groups in the southwestern United States, foundational areas of the Press’s long publishing history. The first eight projects now available touch on topics that range from the impact of government policy on Indigenous communities to the experiences of Mexican American communities throughout the 20th century.

Open Arizona was funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in 2017 and is a three-year initiative to make available in open access format two dozen critical works of scholarship.

Please join us in celebrating these new OA books:

Deliberate Acts
Peter M. Whiteley

Drawing on oral accounts from Hopi consultants and contemporary documents, Peter M. Whiteley argues that the Oraibi split of 1906 was the result of a conspiracy among Hopi politico-religious leaders, a revolution to overturn the allegedly corrupt Oraibi religious order.

Farmers, Hunters, and Colonists

Edited by Katherine A. Spielmann

Eight contributors discuss early trade relations between Plains and Pueblo farmers, the evolution of interdependence between Plains hunter-gatherers and Pueblo farmers between 1450 and 1700, and the later comanchero trade between Hispanic New Mexicans and the Plains Comanche.

In Defense of La Raza

Francisco E. Balderrama

Mexican communities in the United States faced more than unemployment during the Great Depression. Discrimination against Mexican nationals and similar prejudices against Mexican Americans led the communities to seek help from Mexican consulates, which in most cases rose to their defense.

Life and Labor on the Border

Josiah McC. Heyman

This book traces the development of the urban working class in northern Sonora over the period of a century. Heyman describes what has happened to families over several generations as people have left the countryside to work for American-owned companies in northern Sonora or to cross the border to find other employment.

Mexican Americans in a Dallas Barrio

Shirley Achor

This book vividly describes day-to-day barrio life in Dallas. Achor’s portrayal of the residents challenges stereotypes of traditional Mexican American culture and southwestern barrio life.

Missionaries, Miners, and Indians

Evelyn Hu-Dehart

More than a tale of Yaqui Indian resistance, Missionaries, Miners, and Indians documents the history of the Jesuit missions during a period of encroaching secularization. The Yaqui rebellion of 1740, analyzed here in detail, enabled the Yaqui to work for the mines without repudiating the missions; however, the erosion of the mission system ultimately led to the Jesuits’ expulsion from New Spain.

Reconstructing a Chicano/a Literary Heritage

Edited by María Herrera-Sobek

This collection of essays offers a critical examination of key texts produced in the Southwest from 1542 to 1848. Drawing on research in the archives of southwestern libraries and applying literary theoretical constructs to these centuries-old manuscripts, the contributors demonstrate that these works should be recognized as an integral part of American literature.

Unwanted Mexican Americans in the Great Depression

Abraham Hoffman

Discouraged by widespread unemployment and alarmed by anti-Mexican sentiment, nearly five hundred thousand Mexican Americans returned to Mexico between 1929 and 1939. Historian Abraham Hoffman captures the despair of these thousands of people of Mexican descent—including those with U.S. citizenship—who were actively coerced into leaving the country.

Gary Stuart Shares Previously Untold Story of Arizona Political Icon

February 4, 2019

Gary L. Stuart speaks to KVOA prior to taking the podium at “An Evening Celebrating Ernest “Mac” McFarland.

Last week, University of Arizona Press author Gary L. Stuart rendered an intimate portrait of one of Arizona’s most notable politicians, Ernest “Mac” McFarland, at a special event hosted in the University of Arizona Libraries’ Special Collections. The event marked the Tucson release of Stuart’s Call Him Mac: Ernest W. McFarland, the Arizona Years.

A young, ambitious country lawyer, McFarland left an enduring legacy as one of the few men to hold all three of the highest political positions in the state of Arizona. Although much is known about the man’s political legacy, Stuart entertained Tucsonans with a look at the man whose hard-won victories were achieved by a his ability to build real relationships with his constituents, including his rousing victory over the favored incumbent Sen. Henry F. Ashurst.

“If Arizona had a Mount Rushmore, the men on it would be Carl Hayden, Ernest McFarland, Barry Goldwater and John McCain.”

– Gary Stuart quoting Arizona Historian Marshall Trimble

Special thanks to all who took part in the event, including UA President Emeritus Dr. Peter Likins and Tucson lawyer Burton J. Kinerk, as well as John D. Lewis from the McFarland Historical State Park Advisory Committee.

Listen to the full presentation via SoundCloud.

Katherine Morrissey and John-Michael Warner Awarded BRLA Southwest Book Awards

January 18, 2019

Congratulations to Katherine G. Morrissey and John-Michael H. Warner who were named BRLA Southwest Book Award recipients for their University of Arizona Press book Border Spaces: Visualizing the U.S.- Mexico Frontera. Since 1971 the Southwest Book Awards have been presented in recognition of outstanding books about the Southwest published each year in any genre (e.g. fiction, nonfiction, reference) and directed toward any audience (scholarly, popular, children). Original video and audio materials are also considered.

In Border Spaces, Katherine G. Morrissey, John-Michael H. Warner, and other essayists build on the insights of border dwellers, or fronterizos, and draw on two interrelated fields—border art history and border studies. The editors engage in a conversation on the physical landscape of the border and its representations through time, art, and architecture.



A Conversation with the Editors of New Perspectives on Mimbres Archaeology

January 11, 2019

In the early 1970s, understanding of the Mimbres region as a whole was in its infancy. In the following decades, thanks to dedicated work by enterprising archaeologists and nonprofit organizations, our understanding of the Mimbres region has become more complex, nuanced, and rich. New Perspectives on Mimbres Archaeology brings together these experts in a single volume for the first time. Focusing on the social contexts of people and communities, the role of ritual and ideology in Mimbres society, evidence of continuities and cultural change through time, and the varying impacts of external influences throughout the region— the volume presents recent data on and interpretations of the entire pre-Hispanic sequence of occupation.

Below, editors Barbara J. Roth, Patricia A. Gilman, and Roger Anyon discuss the inspiration for their research, the unfortunate consequences that have accompanied the beautiful Mimbres ceramics, and future directions for understanding Mimbres life and culture.

Why did you embark on this research?

Patricia A. Gilman: This book is a compendium of the most recent research in the Mimbres region of southwestern New Mexico, and we decided that it was time to do such a collection. Also, 2014, when we presented the first drafts of what would become the book chapters at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting, was the 40th anniversary of the Mimbres Foundation doing archaeological research in the Mimbres Valley. We wanted to honor that and Steven LeBlanc, whose vision started the Mimbres Foundation and its research. Both Roger and I worked for the Mimbres Foundation, as did several other chapter authors.

Roger Anyon: It can probably be said that this research began over 40 years ago when the Mimbres Foundation established a research presence in the Mimbres Valley. Without the pioneering work of Steven LeBlanc and the Mimbres Foundation, the current book would not have been possible. For me, working with this group of talented individuals and pulling together the most recent research on the Mimbres archaeological culture has been a particularly rewarding experience.

Barbara J. Roth: This was a collaborative effort that resulted from many discussions with colleagues working in the Mimbres region about the changes in our interpretations of what had happened through time and the reasons for these changes since the foundational research in the area by the Mimbres Foundation. We were excited to bring together a group of scholars actively doing research in the region to put these new finds and interpretations in context, and we were able to include perspectives from some of the people who had worked on Mimbres Foundation projects (including Gilman and Anyon, two of the co-editors, along with Steve LeBlanc, who started the Mimbres Foundation.)

Why is there so much interest in Mimbres Ceramics?

Patricia A. Gilman: The paintings of people and animals on some Mimbres black-on-white pottery attracts the attention of many archaeologists and non-archaeologists. Unfortunately, the price that such vessels can command has led to the wholesale looting and sometimes the bulldozing of Mimbres sites. Such looting destroys the contexts in which the bowls are embedded, and it is context that allows archaeologists to understand how people lived in the Mimbres Valley in the past. While the paintings on the bowls are beautiful, we want to say things about peoples’ lives.

Roger Anyon: Simply put, Mimbres ceramics are a unique ceramic decorative tradition that illustrates aspects of Mimbres life in ways unlike any other Southwestern ceramics. The designs are intricate, delicate, bold, and strong. It is, however, most unfortunate that Mimbres designs have such vitality and presence to the modern eye, as it is looting for these ceramics that has contributed to the destruction of Mimbres archaeological sites.

Barbara J. Roth: I think it has to do with their artistic beauty. Many of the pots are absolutely exquisite and to think about someone making that kind of artistic design with a yucca brush is awe-inspiring. I think they are attractive to archaeologists for different reasons, primarily what they can tell us about Mimbres society. I have to admit I have been frustrated at times with the focus on ceramics, as in the past (not in the present volume!) this has led to an overemphasis on the role of ceramics in the society. They were clearly important to Mimbres people, but they only represent a small portion of their lifeways, and there are a lot of other data, much of which are discussed in the volume, that help us piece together what life was like in the Mimbres region.

What do you hope will come next in Mimbres archaeology?

Patricia A. Gilman: Current research projects are examining sites and artifacts to the north and west of the Mimbres Valley, and I hope that a better understanding of what makes Mimbres Mimbres will come from these. Another major research project is using Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis to source the pottery to the sites at which it was made. This has been and will continue to be ground-breaking in terms of who was and who was not making pottery and where that pottery ended up. What I hope will come next that no one is apparently doing in a major way is to collate the elements in the paintings of people and animals. That is, do staffs (perhaps staffs of authority?) associate with men, women, or both? With what or whom do specific animals— dogs, macaws, antelopes— associate? Even though we have admired Mimbres painted pottery since the early 1900s, no one has ever done such a study.

Roger Anyon: There is so much research yet to be done in both the field and in existing museum collections. We are just beginning to understand the pre-ceramic period and I see this as a major avenue of future research into the origins of agriculture in southern New Mexico. I also hope that we get a much clearer idea as to how Mimbres pithouse and pueblo society was structured, and how internally and externally driven dynamics caused change. Finally, there is so much to learn about the late periods, after Mimbres ceramics are no longer made, when there is dramatic societal change on many scales.

Barbara J. Roth: I’d like to see a resurgence of research in the area. As I said in a recent grant proposal, we can still fit most of the scholars actively doing fieldwork in the area in a minivan. I’d like to see more student involvement, and I’d like to see researchers start to ask different questions. When the Mimbres Foundation started, archaeology as a discipline was very focused on topics like ecology, land use, subsistence, and climate. These are very important and are crucial to understanding Mimbres society. But through time, there were all kinds of interesting social and ideological things going on, and we have only started to explore them.

In New Perspectives on Mimbres Archaeology, the contributors discuss current knowledge of the people who lived in the Mimbres region of the southwestern United States and how our knowledge has changed since the Mimbres Foundation, directed by Stephen A. LeBlanc, began the first modern archaeological investigations in the region. Many of these authors have spent decades conducting the fieldwork that has allowed for a broader understanding of Mimbres society. Additional contributions include a history of nonprofit archaeology by William H. Doelle and a concluding chapter by Steven A. LeBlanc reflecting on his decades-long work in Mimbres archaeology and outlining important areas for the next wave of research.


Southwest Books of the Year 2018

January 7, 2018

We are excited to share that two of our titles were selected by the Southwest Books of the Year Award committee members as Top Books of 2018. Southwest Books of the Year: Best Reading 2018 is published by Pima County Public Library in partnership with the Friends of the Pima County Public Library. This year marks the 42 edition of the annual awards, which started with the Arizona Daily Star and continued by the Library in 2000.

A Natural History of the Mojave Desert by Lawrence Walker and Fredrick Landau was selected from our Spring 2018 catalog by Gregory McNamee.

Gregory McNamee, a longtime Tucsonan, is the author of more than 40 books and more than 6,000 periodical pieces. He is a contributing editor to Kirkus Reviews and to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

“The Mojave Desert is renowned for its frightful heat, boasting the highest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth. It’s not much known for anything else, and some geographers even consider the Mojave not an entity unto itself but “a transition zone between its larger neighbors, the Sonoran Desert to the south and the Great Basin Desert to the north.” So write Walker and Landau, scientists at the University of Nevada–Las Vegas, who disprove that assumption with this gracefully spun, richly photographed handbook. They note that the Mojave “contains about 3,000 plant species and about 380 terrestrial vertebrate animal species,” a quarter and a sixth of which, respectively, are found nowhere else. Three million humans also make their homes in the Mojave in places like Victorville, CA, Kingman, AZ, and of course Las Vegas. Readers will be surprised at some of the mysteries of the place—how the creosote bush got to the Mojave from its South American birthplace, for instance, and how birds have adapted to the scorching heat. The book is a desert rat’s delight.”—Gregory McNamee

Pat Mora’s latest poetry collection Encantado, published this fall, was selected by Christine Wald-Hopkins.

This is the fourth Southwest Books of the Year selection panel for longtime educator and occasional essayist Christine Wald-Hopkins. A member of the National Book Critics Circle, she has reviewed books for national and regional publications.

““Encantado”: “adj., enchanted, haunted.” And “rambling (said of a house).” These translations all variously apply to Santa Fe writer Pat Mora’s haunting, rambling, poetic house of many rooms, Encantado. In the tradition of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town and Edgar Lee Masters’s Spoon River Anthology, Mora has created a fictional Southwestern town—Encantado—and peopled it with characters both living and dead. Each of the poems has a different speaker; each of the speakers has a unique story. Physically and metaphorically, the río, the river, runs through the town and unites the lives. Their lives are humble; their voices unassumingly lyrical. Cobbler Señor Ortega, for example: “I live in languages, Spanish, English—/and shoes, old zapatos, their leather tongues.” And the Japanese physician returned from World War II detention: “Such tears, nightmares, sighs, /and the wood butterflies. I/watch fragile wings swirl, rise. Fly.” Encantado is an affectionate, affecting creation.”—Christine Wald-Hopkins

Congratulations to all the winners! For the complete list, see:

Confronting Healthcare Realities: An Excerpt from Global Indigenous Health

December 10, 2019

Global Indigenous Health examines the dramatic impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples’ physical, mental, and emotional health. Building on Indigenous knowledge systems of health and critical decolonial theories, the volume’s contributors explore how Indigenous peoples are responding to both the health crises in their communities and the ways for non-Indigenous people to engage in building positive health outcomes with Indigenous communities. Edited by Robert Henry, Amanda LaVallee, Nancy Van Styvendale, and Robert Alexander Innes, this book raises important considerations for contemporary research in the field of Indigenous health, which is too often done “on” or “for” Indigenous communities rather than within or with these communities. Today we offer an excerpt from the introduction to this important volume:

Prior to colonization, Indigenous peoples had their own political structures, religions, education processes, and concepts of how to live within their territories (King, Smith, and Gracey 2009), which continue today to varying degrees, despite ongoing settler colonial and postcolonial conditions. Indigenous peoples frame their understanding of the world around their relationships with their environments, which, for many, have existed since time immemorial (Kuokkanen 2007; Smith 1999). Globally, Indigenous peoples have a variety of cultural practices, beliefs, customs, languages, and ceremonies that influence their health paradigms. Even during colonial processes designed to eradicate Indigenous cultures, many continued to define health on a continuum of relationships and responsibilities with their environment, families, communities, and ancestors (Burgess et al. 2005; King, Smith, and Gracey 2009; Kuokkanen 2007).

Scholarly discussions of health are often dominated by Western biomedical discourse, which focuses on a cure/disease model. Health, in this model, has been and continues to be typically defined as the “absence of disease or illness” (Rootman and Raeburn 1994). As such, health systems and health research are often viewed through a Western Eurocentric lens, which focuses on healing the body from disease and not on the social and environmental factors that influence an individual’s health (Shah 2003). For example, within the field of epidemiology research, health status is still measured by indicators such as incidence, prevalence, and mortality rates. Through the centering of Western biomedical perspectives and understandings, traditional Indigenous knowledges about health and well-being have been ignored. In other cases, Indigenous knowledges— for example, of medicinal plants or healing practices— have been outright stolen and claimed by Western science (Bala and Gheverghese Joseph 2007).

Western indicators do not directly improve our understanding of how sociopolitical histories shape environmental factors that lead to ill health for Indigenous and other marginalized populations (Singer 2009). In contrast to Western biomedical models focused on the absence of disease as a primary indicator of health, many Indigenous peoples view health, instead, as an interrelated relationship between the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual aspects of the self, as well as the relationship between individuals and their environments (King, Smith, and Gracey 2009; Kuokkanen 2007; Saul 2014). As a 2009 UN report sets forth, Western health practices often tacitly assume and promote a common heritage, belief system, structure, language, and identity based exclusively on Western medicine, which “does not recognize traditional healing techniques such as song and dance, or traditional training methods for medical practitioners, such as dreams, yet these practices are viewed as integral to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illnesses in indigenous health systems” (Cunningham 2009, 175). This ethnocentric bias results in missed opportunities to understand the complexities of health through myriad perspectives and traditional knowledges connected to particular territories and peoples.

Many Indigenous communities have diligently kept their cultures alive by passing on traditional knowledge through arts, ceremonies, and languages. Moreover, they have been protecting and holding onto their lands and territories to sustain themselves as peoples and cultures (Kipuri 2009). Health research frameworks and systems must reflect the interconnectedness and relationships between the individual and family, community, and larger environment, and must recognize how these relationships influence the individual’s mental, physical, and spiritual health. Understanding health in this manner requires acknowledging that illnesses are not just epidemiological concerns identified through Western medicine; rather, health is relational and must be addressed holistically.

The UN states that all peoples have the right to the highest possible standard of physical and mental health. The reality, however, is that for Indigenous peoples globally, this is not the case. Indigenous peoples continue to fight for their right to self-determination and to strengthen themselves politically, economically, socially, and legally, in an effort to promote and protect their human rights (Dorough 2009), as well as their traditions, practices, and knowledges as sovereign Indigenous nations. The chapters within this book are written validations, tributes, protests, acts of resilience, and stories of the success, hope, and survival of Indigenous peoples despite the historical and contemporary harms of colonization.

Global Indigenous Health book coverEdited by Robert Henry, Amanda Lavallee, Nancy Van Styvendale, and Robert Alexander InnesGlobal Indigenous Health is unique and timely as it deals with the historical and ongoing traumas associated with colonization and colonialism, understanding Indigenous concepts of health and healing, and ways of moving forward for health equity. 


Stephen Strom’s “Bears Ears” Featured in New York Times

November 30, 2018

Today we were thrilled to see Stephen Strom’s Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land featured in the New York Times. The article, authored by the one and only Rick Bass, highlights three volumes of nature photography that “take us back to Earth’s innocent roots.”

Stephen E. Strom’s eloquent “Bears Ears: Views From a Sacred Land” is perhaps a more palatable picture book — if not also in its own way a perverse bummer, another chronicling of territory taken by force. In 2016, President Obama relied on the Antiquities Act of 1906 (signed by Theodore Roosevelt) to set aside 1.35 million acres of public land in southeastern Utah, intending to protect for all time more than 100,000 sacred Native American sites, not to mention a contained landscape upon which the narrative of time has been written more eloquently and indelibly than anywhere else on earth. What Yellowstone is to wildlife, Bears Ears is to geology. However, just half a year later President Trump, in one of his first acts in office (and with characteristic racism), reduced the scope of the protected monument by 85 percent — one of the many illegal executive orders that will remain caught up in courts for years.

Read the full feature by Rick Bass in print or online.



Everywhere the Earth is Beauty: Reflecting on Bowden’s Blue Desert

November 27, 2018

Originally published in 1986, the University of Arizona Press has reprinted one of the most striking pieces of literature on the Sonoran Desert. With a thoughtfully crafted forward by Francisco Cantú, this new edition of Blue Desert belongs in the hands of desert dwellers and literature connoisseurs far and wide.

Reading Charles Bowden’s Blue Desert paints Southern Arizona more vividly than the human eye, and if you’ve ever spent a night on cold sand beneath a mesquite tree— or foolishly taunted the tightening coil of a rattlesnake— this book is a rush of sensory memory. Beyond his masterful ability to capture the feeling of cactus thorns on tired flesh, or the way old homes crumple just-so in Ajo, Bowden twists his perceptive knife so much deeper into the heart of the Southwest. Broken into three parts— Beasts, Players, and Deserts— Blue Desert delves into topics that feel just as pertinent today as they did in 1986.

Despite his stern narrative voice, Bowden’s love for the land and reverence for the creatures that roam it is overwhelmingly evident throughout all of Blue Desert. Nowhere is this more apparent than the “Beasts” section of the book, in which he writes, “Species are worth saving because a world with less life is less of a world.” Bowden takes us on a tour through delicate bat skeletons picked clean by beetle larvae as their numbers drop drastically, and he outlines the throaty cry of the endangered Sonoran pronghorn as researchers attempt to capture more information on these elusive, threatened animals.

Bowden then takes us into the heart of Ajo, a place which he describes as being “…not of the desert, it just happens to be in a desert.” He chronicles the history of the mining town, and the people who have both thrived and suffered there over the years. His fascination and disgust with desert cities, such as Phoenix and Palm Springs, is summed up in a single thought: “The desert has offered the American people many possibilities, not because they made something of the desert but because it offered a blankness, a clean sheet of map paper where they could live out their lives and not be bothered with other places or concerns.” Throughout Blue Desert, there is a sense that the Southwest both embodies and corrupts the notion of the American Dream. It would be fascinating to hear Bowden’s reflections on these desert empires as we step closer to the end of 2018.

As the book starts to approach a close, we are taken on perhaps the most powerful journey that the pages contain. Bowden decides to walk across the U.S.- Mexico border in Sonora with little food and water, and what he finds is an explosion of wildlife, death, peace, decay, and resilience. Rooting himself in the cruelty of the desert allows for a raw and intensely detailed account of the Sonoran borderlands and what it means to journey across them. Peering out at the desert landscape before him, Bowden makes a beautifully surreal observation that captures the spirit of Blue Desert. “The mountains rise azure, the ocotillo waves blue wands, the creosote whispers by my feet, and everything is awash with a rich, bright blue…I have entered this blue world and I accept it totally. It means peace… The peace works deep into my muscle and my body works harder and harder and yet feels ease. I begin to glide. Ahead Big Pass waits with dark blue jaws… But I glide. I know I glide. Blue.”

Charles Bowden (1945-2014) was the author of many acclaimed books about the American Southwest and U.S.-Mexico border issues. He was a contributing editor for GQ, Harper’s, Esquire, and Mother Jones. His honors include a PEN First Amendment Award and the Lannan Literary Award for Nonfiction.


American Anthropological Association 2018 Meeting Wrap-Up

November 21, 2018

Last week, nearly 5,800 anthropologists gathered in San Jose to discuss a range of critical topics at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting. This year’s theme was “Change in Anthropological Imagination: Resistance, Resilience, and Adaptation.” The conference offered a wonderful opportunity to showcase our most recent titles, visit with authors, and advise scholars about scholarly book publishing and getting their work published with the University of Arizona Press. Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth!

Allyson Carter, UAP Senior Editor; Barbara Meek, author of We Are our Language; Jenny Davis, author of Talking Indian; and Anthony K. Webster, author of Intimate Grammars


Georgina Drew, author of River Dialogues


Anna M. Babel, author of Between the Andes and the Amazon, and Allyson Carter, UAP Senior Editor


Margaret M. Bruchac, author of Savage Kin, which was named the inaugural CMA Book Award Winner at this year’s meeting


Chip Colwell, co-editor of Footprints of Hopi History and Anthropologist’s Arrival, and Allyson Carter, UAP Senior Editor


Left to right: Piergiorgio Di Giminiani , author of Sentient Lands; Rachel Corr, author of Interwoven; and Allyson Carter, UA Press Senior Editor



José E. Martínez-Reyes, author of Moral Ecology of a Forest


Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez, author of Hegemonies of Language and Their Discontents and co-editor of The U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region


Carrie C. Heitman, co-editor of Chaco Revisited

Tom Miller Wins NM-AZ Book Award

November 19, 2018

We’re excited to announce Tom Miller has been named a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award winner for his book  Cuba, Hot and Cold.  In the Travel Book category, Miller shares the honor with Ashley Biggers for her book Eco-Travel New Mexico, from our AUP peers at the University of New Mexico Press.

Since his first visit to the island thirty years ago, Tom Miller has shown us the real people of Havana and the countryside, the Castros and their government, and the protesters and their rigor. His first book on Cuba, Trading with the Enemy, brought readers into the “Special Period,” Fidel’s name for the country’s period of economic free fall. Cuba, Hot and Cold brings us up to date, providing intimate and authentic glimpses of day-to-day life.


Turning It Up! University Press Week 2018

November 12, 2018

We’re thrilled to celebrate University Press Week along with our peers in the Association of University Presses. Since 2012, the Association has celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and local and global communities. Emphasizing the critical role of university presses in providing a voice for authors, ideas, and communities beyond the scope of mainstream publishing, this year’s theme is #TurnItUP.

“University presses publish authors from around the world and right at home, writing on subjects that are broad, niche, and at every level of inquiry in between,” said AUPresses Executive Director Peter Berkery. “Without university presses, many of these authors or subjects would not be heard in the marketplace of ideas. We’re delighted to make this aspect of our work the focus of UP Week 2018.”

Amplifying scholarship and minority voices has long been a mission of the University of Arizona Press.

Founded in 1959, the University of Arizona Press has been an ardent supporter of the international scholarly conversation in the fields of anthropology, archaeology, environmental science, history, Indigenous studies, Latinx studies, Latin American studies, and the space sciences. We continue to look for new opportunities to bring this scholarship to readers all over the globe. One such example of this is our Open Arizona initiative. Thanks to support from the Mellon Foundation, we’re exploring open access opportunities for foundational texts that document histories and experiences of Indigenous and Latino groups of the southwestern United States. The Open Arizona project will include works that touch on topics such as the impact of government policy on Indigenous communities and the experiences of Mexican American communities throughout the twentieth century.

We’ve supported emerging and established voices in Indigenous and Latinx fiction and poetry through our award-winning literary series for nearly fifty years.

The University of Arizona Press was one of the first publishers to celebrate Native American and Indigenous voices in poetry and fiction through our Sun Tracks series, established in 1971. One of the latest books in that series comes from Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, the first published Marshallese poet.

We were one of the first publishers to support Latinx voices in poetry and fiction through our Camino del Sol series, established in 1997. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera was the inaugural author in the series, and we had the honor of publishing the debut full-length collection from Vickie Vértiz, Palm Frond With Its Throat Cut, which was just named a Pen America Literary Award winner in Poetry.

We’re turning it up this spring with a brand new series.

We’re thrilled to release the first two books from The Feminist Wire Books, a new series from The Feminist Wire (TFW) and the University of Arizona Press that presents a cultural bridge between the digital and printing worlds. Marquis Bey’s debut essay collection unsettles normative ways of understanding Blackness, Black feminism, and queerness. Them Goon Rules is an un-rulebook, a long-form essayistic sermon that meditates on how Blackness and nonnormative gender impact and remix everything we claim to know. The Chicana M(other)work Anthology is a call to action for justice within and outside academia. Using an intersectional lens, this volume brings together emerging scholarship and testimonios by and about self-identified Chicana and Women of Color mother-scholars, activists, and allies who center mothering as transformative labor.

“At a time when misinformation and disinformation travel with head-spinning speed, TFW’s short-form books let readers pause,” said University of Arizona Press Director Kathryn Conrad. “They are provocative conversation starters that call us to think and to act.”

Thank you for celebrating with us this week!

Send us your #UPShelfies or tag us with your favorite University of Arizona Press titles that really #TurnItUP. From all of us at the Press, thank you for your support!

Urban Frontier of Change: An Excerpt from Laurent Corbeil’s The Motions Beneath

November 8, 2018

As Mexico entered the last decade of the sixteenth century, immigration became an important phenomenon in the mining town of San Luis Potosí. Drawn by new jobs, thousands of men, women, and children poured into the valley between 1591 and 1630, coming from more than 130 communities across northern Mesoamerica. The Motions Beneath is a social history of the encounter of these thousands of indigenous peoples representing ten linguistic groups. Using baptism and marriage records, Laurent Corbeil creates a demographic image of the town’s population. He studies two generations of highly mobile individuals, revealing their agency and subjectivity when facing colonial structures of exploitation on a daily basis. Today, we offer an excerpt from this important new work:

The historical literature on the cities of New Spain shows that the disposition of indigenous neighborhoods did not usually follow a blueprint developed and imposed by Spaniards. The ideal of a well planned and grid patterned urban development— as it was appearing in Renaissance Europe— was seldom enforced in urban indigenous neighborhoods. Felipe Castro Gutiérrez describes the general organization of the pueblos y barrios de indios in New Spain in these words: “a labyrinth of small streets, public places hidden on unexpected sites, irregularly designed blocks of houses, and houses disposed according to the resources or to the convenience of each owner, sometimes with ‘false doors’ that permitted people to enter and exit with discretion.”

In the areas of the northern frontier of New Spain where silver deposits abounded, this situation was juxtaposed— and collided— with the chaotic development of mining as a private and uncertain enterprise. In Zacatecas, for example, indigenous migrants established their settlements close to mining operations, in accordance with economic incentives and the availability of resources, but not following any sort of urban planning. A similar contrast between the European chessboard ideal of urban development existed in most of Nueva Vizcaya, and only key social and political institutions, such as the church, the cemetery, and the zócalo (central plaza) existed there. Missions, however, followed a strict pattern of well-demarcated territories assigned to indigenous ethnic groups in a written fundo legal, a royal allotment of land for indios. In theory, the pueblos de indios of San Luis Potosí should have received a fundo legal as well, but their location, a very short distance from the Spanish settlement, suggests that the geographic disposition was rather arbitrary.

Traza, Pueblos, and Barrios of San Luis Potosi, Early Seventeenth Century. Map by Juliana de Souza Ritter, Student Consultant, Davis Library Research Hub, University of Northern Carolina at Chapel-Hill. Inspired by Galvan Arellano, Arquitectura y urbanismo, 173.


The major cause behind the apparently disorganized nature of urban development was the fundamental presence of the haciendas de benefico in the regional economy. I will define in greater detail the nature and functions of these sites of production later in this chapter, but suffice it to say for now that Spanish miners established these facilities where the resources allowed for it, rather than where it was best for urban development. Other factors, such as the geography of the land— in San Luis Potosí, the swamp, the lagoon, and the numerous water springs— and the Spaniards’ unfamiliarity with the early modern ideals of urban development were other determining factors. In accordance with this interpretation of urban borderlands, I argue that the development of pueblos y barrios de indios surrounding San Luis Potosí was not planned, but that they were established and evolved according to available resources and to the needs and wills of the population, both Spanish and indigenous. A crucial difference here, however, is that Spanish authorities were quick in recognizing the official nature and government of most indigenous settlements.

The northern frontier was not only characterized by the establishment of human settlements, but also by the arrival and transformation of an economic system. The indigenous population in San Luis Potosí did not only establish itself in the pueblos y barrios de indios. Many of them also lived on work sites run by Spaniards, such as haciendas de beneficios, carboneras (charcoal-making facilities), ranchos, and the like. I recall here that the estimated indigenous population in 1597, according to in-town parish records, was around 2,500 individuals, while the male working population, including the mines, was estimated at 5,000 in 1600 and 6,000 in 1603. That is to say that the laboring population living outside the pueblos y barrios de indios was significant. Indigenous labor was diversified in the nature of the performed tasks, in the degree of knowledge and specialisation, and in the type of relations with the Spanish employers.


Laurent Corbeil received his Ph.D. from McGill University and was a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He has received grants from the UNAM-IIH and the Québec Research Funds—Society and Culture. 

The Origins of Latino Political Power

October 29, 2018

With Election Day approaching, conversations about political representation and social justice have taken on new urgency. But historian Mario T. García reminds us that it was these very topics that propelled Raymond L. Telles to office in 1957, when he was elected the first Mexican American Mayor of El Paso. In The Making of a Mexican American Mayor, García deftly illustrates how Telles’s election marked a turning point in political agency for Latinos. Today, we share an excerpt from the new second edition:

The election of Raymond L. Telles as mayor of El Paso in 1957 was a major breakthrough in the Mexican American quest for political representation and status in the United States. A personal triumph for Telles, his election also symbolized a political victory for the entire Mexican American community of this key southwestern border city. After more than one hundred years of limited and inadequate political participation in local affairs, Mexican Americans concluded in 1957 that the time had come for electing one of their own as mayor of a city numbering almost 250,000 with one half of the population being of Mexican descent. Telles became the first American of Mexican descent to be elected mayor of a major southwestern city in the 20th century. His election and subsequent administration (1957–61) stimulated additional Mexican American electoral initiatives and, more importantly, gave Mexican Americans a growing confidence in themselves as American citizens and as political actors. Hence, the Telles story is part of the larger and ongoing struggle by Mexican Americans to eliminate a legacy of second-class citizenship and to achieve social justice.

The role of Mexican Americans as second-class citizens originated with the conquest of northern Mexico by the United States during the 1840s and in the subsequent labor exploitation of Mexicans in the Southwest. The annexation of this region assumed major economic significance by its integration as a supplier of key industrial raw materials (copper, lead, and silver) as well as agricultural and cattle foodstuffs to feed the industrial armies of the East and Midwest. The railroads penetrated the Southwest and northern Mexico, opening these areas to American capital and technology. In turn, southwestern entrepreneurs induced Mexicans to cross the border and work as cheap unskilled labor beginning in the early twentieth century. Consequently, social relations in the Southwest and in communities such as El Paso took on definite economic characteristics. Mexicans, for the most part, served as manual laborers while Anglos possessed highly skilled jobs as well as managerial, business, and professional occupations. Mexican workers in this exploitative relationship produced much wealth, but received little of it in return.

The labor exploitation of Mexicans supported by racial and cultural discrimination likewise led to their political second- class status. A small number of acculturated and better-off Mexican Americans did participate in early El Paso politics, but as political ward bosses for the Democratic “Ring” that controlled local politics during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Most Mexicans possessed no real political representation. Many, of course, prior to the 1930s maintained Mexican citizenship. Still, they contributed to El Paso politics by being paid to vote by unscrupulous Anglo politicians acting through Mexican American intermediaries. Mexicans received slight patronage as city laborers out of this political arrangement, but on the whole their involvement only supported a political system that reinforced their economic oppression. Mexican immigrant workers undergoing a process of proletarianization struggled to protect themselves, but their vulnerable political status as “aliens” and their personal desires to return to Mexico did not lend themselves to long-lasting protest movements.

World War II, however, proved to be a political watershed for Mexican Americans. A new generation— the Mexican American generation—came of age that unalterably refused to accept second-class status and that was prepared to wage protracted struggles for their civil rights. Not immigrants like most of their parents, these mostly first-generation U.S.- born Mexicans achieved slightly improved working- class positions for themselves as a result of greater needs for better-trained workers in a more complex southwestern economy plus increased access to public education. In the process, some began to perceive themselves as an exploited social class. Moreover, a distinct Mexican American lower middle class composed of small businessmen and smaller numbers of professionals also evolved and began to become aware of its own class interest. Changing class characteristics accompanying American economic revival in turn produced growing political and social expectations and aspirations among many younger Mexican Americans. Socialized to American democratic principles through the schools and mass media and patriotically serving in World War II, these Mexican Americans sought to eliminate barriers to full equality with other citizens.

Repulsed by overt forms of social discrimination, Mexican Americans after the war chose to first confront segregation in public facilities such as schools, theaters, swimming pools, restaurants, housing tracts, and access to elective offices. The efforts to force respect for Mexican Americans by pursuing an integrationist strategy involved what Everett Ladd in his study of black politics in the South terms “status goals” as opposed to “welfare goals” intended to obtain material improvements without disturbing race- ethnic divisions. For Mexican Americans, as for many blacks after the war, “status goals” meant abolishing those forms of public discrimination that called attention to their race and ethnic difference.

Consumed by a desire to be treated as full-fledged American citizens, Mexican Americans engaged in the “politics of status.” “The demand for integration . . . ,” Ladd notes, “is essentially the attempt by a group which has been branded inferior in quite literally a thousand ways by white Americans to gain recognition as a truly equal partner in the American democracy.”

Reformist by nature, the “politics of status” did not directly combat the root cause of Mexican American underdevelopment in the Southwest: the need by capital to expand from maintaining most Mexicans as pools of cheap and surplus labor. The altering of this relationship would entail more fundamental struggles, encompassing both sides of the border, than most Mexican American leaders in the post-war era were both ideologically and politically prepared to undertake. They believed that the system was capable of reforming inequities. Nevertheless, the “politics of status,” including the struggle for democratic political rights, marked a forward step in the political evolution of Mexican Americans and a further step in achieving social justice. The rising expectations generated by this movement, as well as its accompanying frustrations, would result in even more challenging efforts by a succeeding generation.

In El Paso, Mexican Americans interpreted status goals predominantly in electoral political terms. Unlike other parts of Texas where Mexicans faced de facto racial discrimination in public facilities, Mexican Americans in the border city did not; they had historically possessed access—if they could afford it— to theaters, restaurants, stores, and other forms of public facilities. Even schools and housing tracts were not strictly segregated in El Paso. The Anglo power structure had early learned that it made little economic sense to exclude Mexicans from public facilities due to their importance as a source of labor and as consumers. Moreover, discrimination against Mexicans would jeopardize El Paso’s relation with Mexico, especially the border city’s role as a labor center and as a wholesale and retail outlet for northern Mexican customers. Not confronting a system of overt public discrimination, Mexican Americans, however, still lagged behind Anglos in jobs, wages, education, and political representation.

“El Paso’s discrimination,” one report on El Paso politics concluded, “is based primarily on the belief, or rationale, that Latins are ‘not qualified’ (primarily because of lack of education) for various jobs.”

In 1950, for example, the Spanish-surnamed population in El Paso composed more than half of the city’s total population. Of these, almost three- quarters of Mexican Americans were born in the United States. Despite their numbers, Mexican Americans constituted only 1.8 percent of high white- collar occupations, only 26.4 percent of low white-collar occupations, and only 11.2 percent of skilled blue- collar ones. Only seven Mexican American lawyers practiced in El Paso. Hence, by midcentury Mexican Americans still formed, despite certain gains, a predominantly working-class population excluded from access to political and economic power. Two El Pasos continued to coexist as they had since the nineteenth century: one more affluent and mostly Anglo in the northern section of the city and the other relatively poor and mostly Mexican “south of the tracks.”

Under such circumstances, Mexican Americans in El Paso—experiencing both poverty and degrees of progress—viewed the attainment of effective political representation as the first step in equalizing their status with Anglos. Not having to struggle, as in other parts of Texas, for the right to integrate public facilities— already achieved in El Paso— Americans of Mexican descent in the border city instead saw their lack of access to electoral offices as the most significant affront to their status as American citizens.

No one from this ethnic group had ever been elected mayor nor served on the city council between 1900 and 1950. Moreover, the existence of a poll tax in Texas added to the political disenfranchisement of many Mexican Americans. After the war, leaders from this community vowed to change this. “The Spanish-speaking group is ripe for organized action and has an endless list of social grievances, many of which date back fifty years,” writer-historian Carey McWilliams wrote of El Paso in 1948 in The Nation. “It has only begun to achieve real political maturity, but leaders are emerging and the day of political reckoning cannot be long deferred.”

This was especially true for the aspiring lower middle class that considered politics not only as an avenue of personal mobility, but more importantly of collective respectability. These Mexican Americans believed that the most symbolic way of acquiring status as full-fledged American citizens was through electoral success, including winning the mayor’s office. At the same time, it should be noted, political representation for many Mexican Americans including Telles was only the first step. Telles personally understood poverty and the class/race divide in El Paso and in other parts of the Southwest.

“Poverty pained him,” his daughter Cynthia Telles stresses. He was committed to achieving social justice at all levels, but believed that it would need to start first by achieving political power in order to be able to try to deal with the larger issues of economic inequality. It is in this context that the political ascendance of Raymond Telles can be appreciated.

Mario T. García is Distinguished Professor of Chicano Studies and History at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published more than twenty books on Chicano history and won many awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2016 Stetson Kennedy Vox Populi Award from the Oral History Association.

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez Receives an Honorable Mention from the Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists Book Award


October 26, 2018

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez has received an Honorable Mention for his new book, Hegemonies of Language and Their Discontents: The Southwest North American Region Since 1540from the ALLA (Association of Latina and Latino Anthropologists) Book Prize Committee for 2018! Dr. Vélez-Ibáñez will be recognized for his accomplishment at the annual AAA meeting this November, as well as the ALLA Business Meeting.

The ALLA Book Award Committee members, Gilberto Ross, Elaine Peña, and Diane Garbow offer this reflection on the important scholarly contribution of Dr. Vélez-Ibáñez’s work: “Velez-Ibáñez’s text underlines the manner in which gender, race, and class emerge out of local and global processes. The book emphasizes that from the Spanish era to the United States invasion, to the new reach of the Mexican state in the Southwest North American Region, languages and their ideological constructs were imposed upon resident populations in complex, ‘hydra-headed’ approaches to the negotiations, accommodations, and resistances. Revolts, hybridities, and other kinds of recalcitrant inventiveness are the result, ‘spiced by spaces and places’ for experimental and discontent ‘translanguaging’. No hegemony is complete, in the best of the Gramscian tradition.”

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez is Regents’ Professor and the Motorola Presidential Professor of Neighborhood Revitalization in the School of Transborder Studies and a professor of human evolution and social change at Arizona State University. His numerous honors include the 2004 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology and the 2003 Bronislaw Malinowski Medal. Vélez-Ibáñez was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994 and was named as a corresponding member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences (Miembro Correspondiente de la Academia Mexicana de Ciencias) in 2015.

Congratulations, Carlos!

Tim Z. Hernandez Honored with Leal Award

October 26, 2018

Last evening, Tim Z. Hernández received this year’s Luis Leal Award for Distinction in Chicano/Latino Literature. The Leal Award is named in honor of Luis Leal, a professor emeritus of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara, who was internationally recognized as a leading scholar of Chicano and Latino literature. Previous recipients of the award include Norma Cantú, Francisco Jiménez, Demetria Martínez, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Graciela Limón, Pat Mora, Alejandro Morales, Helena Maria Viramontes, Oscar Hijuelos, Rudolfo Anaya, Denise Chávez, Hector Tobar, John Rechy and Reyna Grande.

“Tim Hernández is one of the most exciting and innovative new literary voices linking history and fiction to the Chicano/a experience,” said Mario T. García, professor of Chicana and Chicano studies and of history at UC Santa Barbara, and the organizer of the annual Leal Award.

Tim Z. Hernandez was born and raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley. An award-winning poet, novelist, and performer, he is the recipient of the American Book Award for poetry, the Colorado Book Award for poetry, the Premio Aztlán Literary Prize for fiction, and the International Latino Book Award for historical fiction. His books and research have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CNN, Public Radio International, and National Public Radio. His most recent book, All They Will Call You,  is the harrowing account of “the worst airplane disaster in California’s history,” which claimed the lives of thirty-two passengers, including twenty-eight Mexican citizens—farmworkers who were being deported by the U.S. government.

Western History Association 2018 Conference Recap

October 23, 2018

San Antonio’s rainy weather in no way dampened the spirit of the 58th Annual Western History Association Conference in Texas last week. The conference’s distinctive location on the San Antonio River Walk, a stone’s throw from the Alamo, fueled fascinating discussions on the city’s unique environment, history, and urban landscape. As usual, the exhibit hall was the hub of activity for conference goers, a lively locale for celebrating books.

What a joy to have two foundational Chicano historians, Mario García and Ignacio García, in the UA Press booth discussing Mario’s new book, The Making of a Mexican American Mayor: Raymond L. Telles of El PasoIt was also wonderful to see Katherine Morrissey, co-editor of Border Spaces: Visualizing the U.S.-Mexico Frontera, as well as many other UA Press authors, including Yvette Saavedra, Flannery Burke, Dick Etulain, Phylis Martinelli, and Jeff Shepherd.

A warm congratulations goes to UA Press authors Cliff Trafzer for receiving the American Indian Lifetime Achievement Award and to this year’s WHA President, Donald Fixico. Thanks to everyone who visited the University of Arizona Press booth this year; we look forward to seeing you all again next year in Las Vegas!–Kristen Buckles

The Making of a Mexican American Mayor author Mario García with White But Not Equal author Ignacio García
The Making of a Mexican American Mayor” author Mario García with “White But Not Equal” author Ignacio García


Border Spaces co-editor Katherine Morrissey
Border Spaces” co-editor Katherine Morrissey


The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas
The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas


The San Antonio Riverwalk
The San Antonio River Walk


Unlocking the Hidden Histories of Power: México Beyond 1968

October 5, 2018

Fifty years ago this week, as Mexico came to represent the first Latin American country to host the Olympics in 1968, a massive student movement revealed the country’s political instability and state of control and repression. On October 2, 1968, government soldiers opened fire on a peaceful demonstration, killing more than a hundred in the plaza of Tlatelolco. Today Jaime M. Pensado and Enrique C. Ochoa talk about the impetus for their book México Beyond 1968: Revolutionaries, Radicals, and Repression During the Global Sixties and Subversive Seventies and their collaborative work to root the telling of México’s history within a broader Mexican public:

México Beyond 1968: Revolutionaries, Radicals, and Repression During the Global Sixties and Subversive Seventies emerges from our long collaboration together. Since the late 1990s when Jaime was an undergraduate and graduate student at California State University, Los Angeles, we developed a close working relationship that was built on a mutual passion for learning, social justice, and the history of greater Mexico. Enrique was born and raised in Los Angeles, the largest metropolitan area of Mexicanas/os outside of Mexico City, and Jaime migrated to the same city in the mid-1980s. We connected in our belief in the importance of studying and teaching Mexican history in a society (the United States) with a significant Mexican and Latinx population that has been publicly denied a full understanding of the deep history of Mexico in the United States. The process of colonialism and coloniality as it plays out in the U.S. academy erases knowledge systems and the deep histories and ways of knowing that communities have. We see it as our goal to unlock the hidden histories of power to understand how power works, the structures of inequality, and the long history of resistance. For us, this must be done through a broad collaboration that challenges the conservative, elitist, and assimilationist structures of the academy. One important step in this process has been to work to foster the expansion of Mexican/Latinx scholars in the writing of history.

The study of Mexican history in the United States, like the field of Latin American studies, has its roots in U.S. hetero-patriarchal colonial and capitalist domination. Therefore, it has been dominated by white scholars with little contact with Mexican or Latinx communities in the United States, and this has been reinforced by the nation-state focus of the study of history. When Enrique was a graduate student in the late 1980s and early 1990s in the United States, there was only one Mexican American historian of modern Mexico, Ramón Eduardo Ruíz (UC San Diego), teaching at a Research 1 university. While affirmative action and diversity programs have made some inroads since then, as this volume attests, such programs are still woefully inadequate. Instead, given the crisis in higher education funding, we argue that, using the logic of meritocracy and reduced funding, programs in the United States have been complicit in further restricting working-class students of color.

It is in this spirit that in October 2016 we brought together at the University of Notre Dame an intimate group of critical scholars who have been researching Mexican authoritarianism and state violence, as well as social and guerrilla movements, and who seek to intervene in political debate by engaging a broader public and by working with communities with long histories of resistance. Nearly all of the contributors have deep roots in broader Mexico, including communities in the United States. By centering the scholarship of Mexican, Chicanx, and Latinx scholars, we underscore that how we do history is just as important as what we do. We know that those who write history shape the narrative and that narrative has power. We have gathered together a passionate group of scholars for whom the production of knowledge is representative of power, and herein lies the second reason why we have employed the term “México” in the title. The authors bring to the center the work of Mexican scholars who have published in Spanish. All too often, the history of Mexico published in the United States and Europe marginalizes Mexican scholars or buries their arguments in the footnotes. Mexico, student movements, revolutionary organizing, and state repression are not just academic areas of interest for several of the authors here. For them, these topics and events are personal, and they have shaped their lives.

Jaime M. Pensado is an associate professor of history and director of the Mexico Working Group (MWG) at the University of Notre Dame.

Enrique C. Ochoa is a professor of Latin American studies and history at California State University, Los Angeles.


New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards 2018 Finalists Announced

October 2, 2018

The New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards 2018 Finalists were announced late last week and we’re pleased to share that six UA Press titles were honored:

Mimbres Life and Society by Patricia Gilman and Steven LeBlanc (Anthropology/Archaeology)

Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch by Sara Sue Hoklotubbe (Fiction – Cozy Mystery)

Border Spaces edited by Katherine Morrissey and John-Michael H. Warner (History Book)

No Species is an Island by Theodore Fleming (Nature/Environment Book)

Pushing Our Limits by Mark Nelson (Nature/Environment Book)

Cuba, Hot and Cold by Tom Miller (Travel Book)

The New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards are organized by The New Mexico Book Co-Oop, a not-for-profit organization serving authors and publishers. View the full list of finalists. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony and banquet on November 16, at the Tanoan Country Club in Albuquerque.

Congratulations to all of the finalists!


Vickie Vértiz honored with PEN America Literary Award

September 27, 2018

Today PEN America announced the winners of the 2018 PEN America Literary Awards—Los Angeles. We are excited to share that Vicki Vértiz is the 2018 Poetry award winner for her 2017 collection, Palm Frond with its Throat Cut!

The PEN America Literary Awards are juried by panels of esteemed, award-winning writers, editors, booksellers, and critics. This year’s award winners will be honored at the 2018 LitFest Gala on November 2nd at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, CA.

Vickie’s striking collection uses both humor and sincerity to capture moments in time. Brutally honest, playful, and rhythmically rich, Vértiz’s poetry shows how history, oppression, and resistance don’t just refer to big events or movements. Rather, these things play out in the intimate and everyday spaces of family, sex, and community. Vértiz’s poems ask us to see Los Angeles—and all the cities like it—as they always have been: an America of code-switching and reinvention, of lyric and fight.

A graduate of Williams College, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of California Riverside, Vickie Vértiz is a writer from Bell Gardens, California. A Macondo Fellow and seven-time VONA participant, Vickie has also been a Bread Loaf Environmental Writers Conference scholar, a Lucille Clifton Scholar at the Community of Writers, and a Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellow. Vickie is a social justice advocate who has given lectures and readings in France, Japan, Mexico City, and throughout the United States. She currently resides in Los Angeles.

Since 1963, the PEN America Literary Awards have honored many of the most outstanding voices in literature across diverse genres, including fiction, poetry, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, and drama. To learn more about Pen America, the PEN America Literacy Awards, and the judges and other fantastic winners, visit the Pen America website.

An enormous congratulations to you, Vickie!



Six Questions with Stephen J. Pyne

The author of more than 30 books, Stephen J. Pyne is known for his expert works on landscape fire and histories of place. His writing is thoughtful, informative, occasionally humorous, and above all well-crafted and engaging. MacArthur, Fulbright, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships are just some of the many honors Pyne has received for his writing and scholarship. Pyne has been a professor at Arizona State University since 1985 where, among other things, he has taught nonfiction writing to graduate students. His new book, Style and Story, is for anyone who wishes to craft nonfiction texts that do more than simply relay facts and arguments.  With abundant examples, the book shares pragmatic guidance on how to create powerful, engaging texts by employing suitable literary tools and strategies. Pyne recently answered six questions about his work:

Why did you decide to write this book?

In 2009 I published Voice and Vision to accompany a graduate writing class I developed—it looked at writing issues that most caught my fancy. Over the years I realized that I needed to address a lot of other topics as well. Style and Story is the result. Each book can stand alone, but they are intended to complement one another.

What are three hallmarks of great nonfiction that you look for in your reading and writing?

For me the best nonfiction is one that invites me into an imagined world—not a fictional world of invented facts and characters, but one that nonetheless absorbs me into a state of ‘willing suspension of disbelief.’  The style adds something beyond the particular sources or data. Most fundamentally, it sparks in me a sense that I’d like to write something similar. Often, somewhere, I’ll try to do just that.

What is the biggest mistake new nonfiction writers make?

I think the best nonfiction begins with voice. Get your voice right and a lot of other good things follow.  The students that struggle the most are trying to write in a voice that isn’t theirs, and the course becomes a literary detox project. They can’t concentrate on art and craft until they know who is speaking and why.  Then they can focus on the how.

Who are the nonfiction writers you looked to when you started your nonfiction writing career? Who do you admire now?

When I worked on the North Rim, the Coconino County bookmobile would roll in once a month and that was my only source of reading materials apart from subscription magazines.  There were a lot of regional books, which introduced me to Wallace Stegner, which is where I realized nonfiction could be literature. In fact I thought he was best when he played against type—when he, who thought of himself as a novelist, wrote nonfiction, especially history and biography.

I’m pretty much an omnivore when it comes to reading.  Mostly, I read to learn rather than for pleasure —reading as part of my research. When I read to improve my writing, I tend to read John McPhee (for openings and transitions), Joan Didion (for profiles), Simon Schama (for big narrative), and Tom Wolfe (for humor). All of them are even older than I am, so my sense of style continues to be a shade behind contemporary taste.

The book expands on your previous guide, Voice and Vision. What are the new topics you cover?

Openings and closings, which matter particularly if you are writing narrative; settings, technical material, short and long narration, and varieties of nonfiction humor. Academics in particular have humor beaten out of them, yet it can be very effective when done right (it’s hard to do). I also include some thoughts on writing as a discipline, on how to read as a writer, and on the challenges to nonfiction posed by fiction. I don’t care to have the borders between the two blurred. If you want to tweak stuff as you would in fiction, then write fiction. Nonfiction has rules.

But it does not have an aesthetic as fiction does. It could, it just doesn’t. When nonfiction crosses the border into fiction, I don’t regard it as an excess of literary imagination but as a failure of imagination. A good writer will find a way to play by the rules.

Also, on the recommendation of readers, I include a roster of writing exercises.

What are you working on now?

I’m writing a short book – an idea book and synthesis – called The Great Ages of Discovery that will provide an interpretive framework for thinking about the last 600 years of geographic exploration by Western civilization.  It’s a concept I’ve used in several other books but have never isolated and treated fully in its own right.

Then back to fire. For some time I’ve wanted to do a fire history of Mexico. And I’ve had my sights on a book that would survey concisely the fire histories of South America, Africa, and Asia, maybe modeled on To the Last Smoke.

I try to have some long-term projects, though I find new prompts appear and are fun to pursue.  I never thought, for example, I would write books about writing.  Now I’ve written two.  I’d also like to consider another biography, and maybe try some sustained humorous or at least satirical writing, but all this is probably more than I can realistically manage.

Stephen J. Pyne is a Regents’ Professor in the Human Dimensions Faculty of the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is the author of many successful books, mostly on wildland fire and its history, but also dealing with the history of places and exploration.

Exploring Instruments of the True Measure with Laura Da’

September 18, 2018

Laura Da’s new poetry collection, Instruments of the True Measure, moves its reader deeper into the narrative of Shawnee homeland. This collection proves how truly entwined the words poets craft and their personal experiences are. Laura Da’ spoke with us about her inspiration for these poems, as well as how an unexpected turn in her life led to a new form of poetic energy.

“Writing the poems and essays for Instruments of the True Measure started as a natural continuation of the poetic obsessions that have always motivated my work: history, identity, alienation, family, and place,” she says. “As such, this book has direct connections to my first book, Tributaries. Seeking to learn more about my Shawnee ancestors by way of their movements across the land, I became very taken with multiple American histories of surveying, geography, and cartography. I was struck with the ways forms of measurement became such a crucial and destructive tool of colonialism. This became a foundational element of the book.”

“About mid-way through my work on this book, I swerved. Out of the blue, I fell very ill in 2015 and ended up on dialysis until I received a transplant in 2018. I can track the change in my voice and style clearly from a more muted, objectivist tone to a more searing and lyrical connection between the traumas of the present and the past. There is a juxtaposition between my established process of obsessive research leading to image and narrative driven poems with a raw new poetic engagement with personal pain, fear, and sense of exile. I dig in with these poems and I see this book now as an artifact of my own desire to survive and mark my own place here.”

Below, find the poem titled “The Point of Beginnings” from Laura Da’s collection. This poem opens Instruments of the True Measure with themes of birth and the power of the natural world placed within the definition of geodaesia, rendering them inseparable concepts in the context of the poem. Carrying the weight of American history, this poem launches a collection that is deeply concerned with  Shawnee lives and the forced removal and frontier violence which they endured.



Geodaesia: The art of surveying and measuring—
footpath stamped and deer path trampled.

Wily agents of creation
foliated under great pressure;

white-banded rock embedded
in absolute time’s alluvial fan.

The first creeping
act of range

is the infant’s change of heart
from open to closed

upon the initial intake of breath.
Thence with the meanders of the river. 


Laura Da’ is a poet and a public school teacher. A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. She is Eastern Shawnee. Her first book, Tributaries, won a 2016 American Book Award. In 2015, Da’ was a Made at Hugo House Fellow and a Jack Straw Fellow. She lives near Seattle with her husband and son.


Five Questions with Indian Land Rights Scholar Beth Rose Middleton Manning

Upstream: Trust Lands and Power on the Feather River by Beth Rose Middleton Manning documents the significance of the Allotment Era to a long and ongoing history of cultural and community disruption. It details Indigenous resistance to both hydropower and disruptive conservation efforts. With a focus on northeastern California, this new book highlights points of intervention to increase justice for Indigenous peoples in contemporary natural resource policy making. Today Middleton Manning answers five questions.

What inspired you to embark on this project?
Generally—a lifetime of love of the land coupled with a deep commitment to justice. More specifically—my work with the Maidu Culture and Development Group (MCDG) beginning in 2001, and later the Maidu Summit Consortium and Conservancy beginning in 2004. Mentors and friends in the Maidu community took the time to take me around their country, welcome me to their ceremonies, gatherings, meetings, and events, and talk with me about struggles to access and protect their homelands.

Back in about 2002, MCDG board member Lorena Gorbet showed me a map she had made documenting the status of the lands under hydroelectric projects in the Maidu homeland. Many of these lands were former Indian allotment lands. I began assisting with the project to find out how, specifically, these lands transferred out of Maidu hands. I traveled to local, regional, state, private, and federal archives containing Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management (then, General Land Office) records, and found documentation of over 600 allotments in Plumas and Lassen counties. Some of the files contained more details, including extensive correspondence about the land, and photos of the lands. I was deeply moved by the stories of Maidu and other Indigenous (Pit River, Paiute, Washoe) resistance and ingenuity in the face of oppressive paternalism by the Indian Agents and greed by the corporate developers. Outside of this research and conversations with community members, I had not learned about this struggle before, or about the role of allotment lands in the seizure and development of rural California. It seemed almost as if history was repeating itself in the early 2000s with the utility company settlement and recommended divestiture of some of these headwaters lands in Maidu country. Lands around or near the reservoirs and other hydroelectric operations were recommended for conservation but Maidu allotment history and contemporary Maidu presence and care for the land were not mentioned in the settlement or process. As members of the Maidu community advocated for the return of these areas of the Maidu homeland, I was able to provide supportive information on specific histories of Maidu lands seized for timber or hydro development and now targeted for conservation, to support their return to Maidu ownership.

This book has been called a must-read for wilderness advocates. Why do you hope they’ll read it?
The history of post-contact land use and management is deeply intertwined with institutionalized racism, sexism, and other forms of exclusion. One must look deeply at the history of land use planning, and how it reverberates into the present day, so as not to perpetuate institutionalized injustices. Locking lands up in industry can be similar to locking lands up for conservation or wilderness preservation if Indigenous peoples are excluded. Indigenous peoples must be leaders and partners in land planning and land stewardship. The work to protect land must correspond to the work to bring justice to the ways Indigenous people are being and have been treated, in terms of exclusion from planning and jurisdiction within their own homelands. This leads to better projects as well as to building “a future of justice“ as my friend Farrell Cunningham (yatam) wrote in the Maidu Summit Land Management Plan for Tasmam Koyom/ Humbug Valley.

You point out that during your course work for your PhD in Environmental Science Policy and Management you weren’t required to take any Native Studies courses. Why is this problematic?
Every inch of the world is an Indigenous homeland. That means that every place has sacred sites, food growing or gathering sites, burials, medicinal gathering sites, and other important places. It also means that there is a tradition of knowledge of specific places and the species found there. By not highlighting Indigenous homelands and Indigenous stewardship in the study of environmental science, policy, and management, we are disregarding millennia of Indigenous scientific knowledge and practice, and perpetuating a colonial process that disregards Indigenous knowledge, Indigenous struggle, Indigenous survivance, and Indigenous leadership in land and water planning and stewardship.

Where do you hope the conversation among conservationists and tribal communities goes next?
I would like to see more equitable collaborations between Indigenous people and conservation entities, with deferral to Native expertise, joint leadership or deferral to Native leadership, fair compensation to Indigenous partners, revenue sharing in grants and agreements, and collaborative planning.

What are you working on now?
I am working with a colleague on an article on tribal participation in the carbon market, with a focus on the experience of one Native nation in California that has really opened the door for increased Indigenous participation and leadership in cap-and-trade projects. While the carbon market may be seen negatively as a form of commodification of ecosystem services, tribes are creatively using cap-and-trade systems to achieve tribal goals, within a framework of protecting and reacquiring homelands. This is particularly important in California with the statewide mandatory cap-and-trade system, which includes the participation of two Native nations in California, and other nations in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, New Mexico, Maine, and Arizona. I am also interested in other tribal-led applications of environmental policy, legal, and financial tools, such as tribes’ creative use of new market tax credits (NMTCs) to buy back traditional lands. While they are more often used for low-income housing projects, NMTCs have been used by at least one tribe in California to facilitate a land purchase. I also continue to be interested in Native-led conservation initiatives, especially Native land trusts, and use of conservation easements and land trust structures by tribes in California and beyond.

I also recently received a small Diversity Innovation grant to develop an area of teaching on the Indigenous Caribbean. The Department of Native American Studies at UC Davis has a unique hemispheric perspective, but there is currently no teaching on the Caribbean. My paternal family is from the Caribbean, and I have done some work on conservation of cultural heritage sites with Garifuna organizations in St. Vincent. I will be working with an incoming graduate student with interests in Indigenous and African relationships in the Caribbean to develop a course on the Indigenous Caribbean, with a focus on contemporary politics and land stewardship.

I also have a project with a senior graduate student in NAS working on the implementation of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) between the University of California (both the central Office of the President and individual campuses) and Native nations in California.

Finally, I am engaged in two regional collaborations with climate scientists throughout CA and the greater southwest. I hope to collaboratively develop research and implementation projects that foreground tribal collaboration and tribal leadership in climate change analysis, adaptation, and mitigation.

Beth Rose Middleton Manning is an associate professor of Native American studies at the University of California, Davis. Her first book, Trust in the Land: New Directions in Tribal Conservation, focused on Native applications of conservation easements.




Our 2018 International Latino Book Awards Winners

September 10, 2018 — The 2018 International Latino Book Awards Ceremony took place on Saturday, September 8th in Los Angeles, California. Over the last 20 years the International Latino Book Awards has grown to become the largest Latino literary and cultural awards in the USA. Winners have been from across the USA and at least 17 countries in Latin America, Spain, and a dozen countries elsewhere. Latino Literacy Now has developed a series of important partnerships with organizations like the California State University, Dominguez Hills; Las Comadres de las Americas; REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos; Libros Publishing; and Scholastic. Over the years, over 2,400 authors and publishers have been honored for their work by the International Latino Book Awards. We are thrilled to announce the winning books and authors from our Press below!

Frederick Luis Aldama’s Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics is the first place winner of the Best Latino-Focused Nonfiction Book award. As the foremost expert on Latinx comics, Aldama uses Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics as a way to guide us through the full archive of all the Latinx superheroes in comics since the 1940’s. Thoroughly entertaining but seriously undertaken, Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics allows us to truly see how superhero comic book storyworlds are willfully created in ways that make new our perception, thoughts, and feelings. Alongside writing award-winning books, Frederick Luis Aldama is an Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor at the Ohio State University, and he is the founder and director of the Latino and Latina American Space for Enrichment Research, a mentoring and research hub for Latinos in grade nine through college.

Belinda Linn Rincón’s Bodies at War: Genealogies of Militarism in Chicano Literature and Culture is the second place winner of the Best Women’s Issues Book award. This book examines the rise of neoliberal militarism from the early 1970’s to the present, charting its impact on democratic practices, economic policies, notions of citizenship, race relations, and gender norms by focusing on how these changes affect the Chicana/o community and, more specifically, on how neoliberal militarism shapes and is shaped by Chicana bodies. Through Chicana art, activism, and writing, Rincón offers a visionary foundation for an antiwar feminist politic. Belinda Linn Rincón is an assistant professor of Latin American and Latina/o studies and English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. She is also the co-founder and co-organizer of the Biennial U.S. Latina/o Literary Theory and Criticism Conference.

U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memories, Struggles, and Communities of Resistance, edited by Karina Oliva Alvarado, Alicia Ivonne Estrada, and Ester E. Hernández, is the first place winner of the Best Nonfiction Multi-Author award. This book explores the shared yet distinctive experiences, histories, and cultures of 1.5 and second-generation Central Americans in the United States. This is the first book to articulate the rich and dynamic cultures, stories, and historical communities of Central American communities in the United States. Contributors to this anthology— often writing from their own experiences as members of this community— articulate U.S. Central Americans’ unique identities as they also explore the contradictions found within this multivocal group. Karina Olivia Alvarado is a lecturer in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of California, Los Angeles. Alicia Ivonne Estrada is an associate professor of Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Northridge. Ester E. Hernández is a professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o studies at California State University, Los Angeles. She has also served on the executive boards of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles and Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social.

Taking home second place in the Best Nonfiction Multi-Author award category is Word Images: New Perspectives on Canícula and Other Works by Norma Elia Cantú, edited by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs. This book is a collection of critical essays that unveil Norma Elia Cantú’s contribution as a folklorist, writer, scholar, and teacher for the first time. Word Images unites two valuable ways to view and use Cantú’s work, with the first part comprising essays that individually examine Cantú’s oeuvre through critical analysis and the second part dedicated to ideas and techniques to improve the use of this literature by teachers and professors. Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs is a professor of modern languages and women and gender studies at Seattle University, where she is also the director for the Center for the Study of Justice in Society.


An enormous congratulations to all of our winners!

Margaret Bruchac Awarded the Inaugural CMA Book Award

September 6, 2018

We’re pleased to announce Margaret Bruchac has been awarded the inaugural Council for Museum Anthropology Book Prize for her work Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American AnthropologistsThe Council for Museum Anthropology (CMA), a section of the American Anthropological Association, recognizes innovative and influential contributions to the field of museum anthropology. The Council for Museum Anthropology Book Award was created to recognize and promote excellence in museum anthropology. The award is awarded biennially to a scholar within the field of museum anthropology for a solo, co- or multi-authored book published up to two years prior to the award date.

As part of this year’s AAA Annual Meeting, the 2018 CMA Book Prize will be awarded to Margaret Bruchac, with honorable mention awarded to Laura Peers and Alison Brown for their book Visiting with the Ancestors (2016).

According to the award’s committee members, “Savage Kin is an insightful examination of the previously hidden histories of Native interlocutors who helped to facilitate and make anthropological knowledge about Native North American communities possible. Using ‘restorative methodologies’ to examine a vast array of archival and museum collections, Bruchac raises important issues about the history of bicultural relationships that inform anthropology, the possibilities and value of archives and museum collections for research, and the sociology of knowledge production. This book will we feel not only push the discipline to rethink our received disciplinary histories but will also encourage other scholars to take more seriously the complicated legacies within archival and museum collections.”

Margaret Bruchac is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, where her areas of specialization include NAGPRA and repatriation, indigenous archaeologies, museum anthropology, and Native American studies. She is the author of numerous book chapters and academic articles, as well as prose, plays, and poetry for a variety of regional historical and folklife centers. Bruchac has received awards from the American Philosophical Society and Ford Foundation, and was given the Aesop Award from the American Folklore Society in 2006.

On winning the inaugural CNA Book Prize, Bruchac said,  “It seems so poetic to have my critical analyses of museums in the past recognized by museum scholars in the present! Serendipitously, this award also coincides with the resolution of several key repatriation cases I was working on. So, the good work continues, as I turn to focus on reconnecting other lost objects and stories.”

Part of our Native Peoples of the Americas series, Savage Kin restructures readers’ views of relationships between Indigenous informants, such as Gladys Tantaquidgeon, Jesse Cornplanter, and George Hunt, and anthropologists, such as Frank Speck, Arthur C. Parker, William N. Fenton, and Franz Boas. Like other texts focused on this era, it features anthropological luminaries credited with saving material that might otherwise have been lost. Unlike other texts, it highlights the intellectual contributions of unsung Indigenous informants without whom this research could never have taken place.



Pondering Poetry with Pat Mora

September 5th, 2018

Encantado  is a poetry collection which weaves a myriad community of individuals together through detailed windows into their lives. Inspired by the real and imagined stories around her, Mora brings us to the heart of what it means to be a chorus of voices together.

About her writing process, Mora says, “When I give an idea or scene or emotion quiet and time, a draft of a poem can emerge from a place inside. I’m both listening and pondering. All my grandparents were born in Mexico as was my dad. That fact is part of my inheritance, my wealth, but I write as a human ultimately to share with my fellow humans.”

Below is one of the poems and personalities in Pat Mora’s forthcoming collection. Both playful and profound, “Gilberto” examines themes of aging while capturing the nostalgia of a youthful past. A sense of reverence for the changes that passing time imparts on individuals envelops the poem, creating a space where resistance and acceptance beautifully coincide.




Grace now, my scruffy canine compañeros.

We old dogs must show the way.

We savor mornings and day-old bread

in ways young pups don’t understand.


When I was a boy, I’d climb

at dawn to an arroyo

that tasted of mint,

water so clear and cold

it hurt my teeth, so sweet

I’d laugh out loud.

I was a mountain lion,

eyes red, body sleek, lean, agile,

poised to pounce,

gnaw impatiently on life.


Now my ankles and knees

teach me to taste my days,

slowly. I make pronouncements

only you heed, but

I still burn, shake my fists,

consoled by my own voice.


Pat Mora is an award-winning author of poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books. Her previous books of poetry include Agua Santa: Holy WaterAdobe Odes, and Aunt Carmen’s Book of Practical Saints. Among her awards are Honorary Doctorates from North Carolina State University and SUNY Buffalo, Honorary Membership in the American Library Association, and she was a recipient and judge of a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Mora is the founder of Children’s Day, Book Day, El día de los niños, El día de los libros.  A former teacher, university administrator, museum director, and consultant, Mora is a popular speaker who promotes creativity, inclusivity, and bookjoy. She’s the mother of three adult children, and lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


An Irreplaceable Loss: The National Museum and Nation Building in Brazil

September 4, 2018

Following the devastating fire that tore through Rio de Janeiro’s 200-year-old National Museum this weekend, we remember how a group of biology scholars joined the drive to renew the Brazilian nation, claiming as their weapon the voice of their fledgling field. Without discarding scientific rigor, they embraced biology as a creed and activism as a conviction—and achieved success in their bid to influence public policy in environmental protection and the rational use of natural resources. The following is excerpted from Regina Horta Duarte’s Activist Biology: The National Museum, Politics, and Nation Building in Brazil.

The National Museum
In the 1920s and 1930s, the scientists who worked at this institute in Rio de Janeiro hoped to transform it into a hub that would radiate knowledge to the farthest reaches of Brazil. During those years, the museum staff devoted itself tirelessly to re-creating the National Museum and staking claim to a new role for it. They couldn’t begin to imagine television or satellite dishes, but they trusted in print, movies and radio, exhibits, and educational methodology as efficacious methods for disseminating the new knowledge and new practices that they were convinced would transform Brazil.

The National Museum already had a long history behind it by then. King Dom João VI of the United Kingdom of Portugal, Brazil, and the Algarves had founded it in 1818. His court had fled Lisbon shortly before the city was invaded by Napoleon’s troops in 1808, and once settled safe and sound in Brazil, Dom João VI did his best to prepare Rio de Janeiro for its new status as the political and administrative center of the kingdom, a process that transported the seat of the European empire to the heart of the old Portuguese colony. The Royal Museum—as it was then known—emulated Old World museums by gathering collections representative of the entire globe. But the spotlight was on the Portuguese Empire, spread across the European, African, Asian, and South American continents. From its founding on, the museum played a decisive role in the development of natural history in Brazil.

The establishment of the museum figured into a broader nineteenth century trend around the world to set up natural history museums as “cathedrals to science.” By 1910, there were some two thousand museums of its kind. In Latin America, natural history museums enabled exchanges between naturalists while connecting different points of the globe. In cities like Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Santiago do Chile, Montevideo, Bogotá, and Caracas, new institutions continued to open their doors throughout the nineteenth century, most always concomitant with processes of achieving independence and nation building. They were home to enlightened elites who combined their experience as locals with intellectual training in Europe, but they were also frequented by foreign naturalists eager to research the flora and fauna of South America. National governments wanted to undertake inventories of “their” nature and would often hire teams of foreigners to lend impetus to natural history.

The daily routine at nineteenth-century museums in Latin America reflected the challenges specific to the continent’s historical context. Foreign scientific expeditions often took everything they gathered back to Europe, leaving nothing to the institutes that had welcomed and aided them, much to the discontent of local science communities. The piecemeal nature of local collections left Latin American naturalists at a tremendous disadvantage vis-à-vis their foreign peers, whose institutes boasted enviable collections. Latin American museums also had to cope with periodic political turmoil, which occasioned wild fluctuations in government funding and other support. As Nancy Stepan has said, a great deal of progress came thanks to the individual efforts of naturalists in the absence of any collective, institutionalized, stable climate. Teaching institutions emphasized a liberal arts education in a framework where there was no real way to train researchers in scientific work. There was a paucity of equipment and bibliographic material, scientists enjoyed little prestige, and agricultural and industrial modernization was not yet hardy enough to provide new sources of support for science.

Teachers leading students on a class trip to the National Museum, 1930s. Revista de Educação Pública 8:33–40 (1951–52): 51. Courtesy of Fundação Biblioteca Nacional.

Many aspects of the history of these museums give nuance to the traditional view that naturalists working in Latin America were members of cloistered scientific communities. Over the course of the nineteenth century, while Brazil’s National Museum was becoming a place for public exhibits, it was also making room for new fields of knowledge in its various departments—like paleontology, anthropology, comparative anatomy and zoology, botany, mineralogy, geology, and archaeology—reflecting the institution’s attention to research and its tendency to develop specialized fields. From 1876 to 1893, during what was known as “the golden age of the National Museum,” the institution saw substantial changes under the direction of the naturalist Ladislau Netto. Its collections grew through exchange programs with European and Latin American counterparts and thanks to national expeditions financed by the imperial government. The old monarchical tradition of handpicking personnel by appointment was replaced by the requirement that new hires take qualifying exams on scientific topics. Foreigners like Charles Hartt, Fritz Müller, Hermann Von Ihering, Emílio Goeldi, Carl Schwacke, and Orville Derby were recruited and had plenty of opportunity for the rewarding exchange of experience and knowledge with Brazilian scholars. The establishment of a laboratory for experimental physiology and the launching of a science journal in 1876 (Arquivos do Museu Nacional ) energized the museum and cleared the path for its naturalist members to advance in their professionalization. The institute’s collaboration with the Brazilian presence at universal exhibitions was also important. The country wanted to make a place for itself on the world market and to be counted as a civilization in the tropics. It was not just its commercial interests that were at stake; so too were the exchange of scientific and technological know-how and interaction between the National Museum and foreign science institutes. No less important was the organization of Brazil’s National Anthropological Exposition in 1892, where the exhibiting of hundreds of ethnographic objects fed the lively contemporary debate on race, people, and the Brazilian nation.

Like other museums in Latin America—for example, the Argentina Museum of Natural Sciences (now the Bernardino Rivadávia Museum of Natural History), in Buenos Aires, headed by Hermann Burmeister—Brazil’s National Museum experienced such profound changes during these years that it was almost like starting over. As naturalists reclassified nature, as knowledge grew more specialized, and as scientists and observers began relating to collections in new ways, these collections underwent extensive reorganization. In pursuing this new vision, the museum entered into the wider debate about “national being” and introduced a state “optic”—to use Andermann’s term—of the items on display, thereby transforming a tour of the museum into a civics lesson.

In 1889, the army, with the backing of the agro-exporting elites, toppled the monarchy, and Brazil became a republic. As much as civilian republican groups had hopes for a new democratic order, the institutions of the fledgling republic were predominantly individualist and liberal in nature, and most citizens were denied their political rights, since illiterates were prohibited from voting. Although slavery had been abolished under the monarchy, in 1888, the early decades of the republic witnessed no advances in civil and political rights; instead, it was an era of “exclusionary liberalism,” or “oligarchical liberalism,” marked by political accords between powerful elites, underwritten by fraudulent elections. The Constitution of 1891 delegated broad fiscal and administrative autonomy to the states and territories, benefiting the chief commodity-producing states, like coffee-rich São Paulo and the rubber centers of Pará and Amazonas. Under the influence of some republican sectors, the nation’s charter also bore the imprint of positivism, translated into a complete separation of church and state and the absence of any official religion. The republic would recognize marriages, births, and burials as civil processes, and religious teaching would no longer be mandatory in schools.

Boy Scouts on a visit to the National Museum, December 1927. Série Documental Museu Nacional. Courtesy of Arquivo Múcio Leão, Academia Brasileira de Letras.

In the early years of the republic, the museum faced several hurdles. The new government abolished the post of traveling naturalist and demanded the daily physical presence of all researchers. In practical terms, this meant naturalists could not make research trips and instead had to stay in their offices. Some of the top staff left, Fritz Müller among them. A number of wealthier states, like São Paulo and Pará, opened their own natural history museums and managed to attract naturalists like Goeldi and Von Ihering. The federal government itself established applied research institutes, which became the country’s first centers for biological research, such as the Oswaldo Cruz Institute in Rio de Janeiro and the Butantan Institute in São Paulo. Shortly after the Proclamation of the Republic, the National Museum saw its prestige enter a period of steady decline, while other centers began their ascent, offering bigger budgets and additional amenities that could attract the most eminent researchers—a status quo that was not to change until the late 1920s.

The 1920s indeed brought change to Brazil. World War I had ended, as had the optimism of the Belle Époque. The coffee glut and the demise of the Amazon rubber boom in the face of stiff competition from Southeast Asia spelled economic hardship. Anarchist and communist union movements were on the rise, alongside conservative Catholic movements. Modern Art Week, an arts festival held in São Paulo in February 1922, signaled artistic restlessness. Young military officers joined the armed movement known as tenentismo, while the Prestes Column engaged in guerrilla warfare and cangaceiro bandits ran rampant in Northeast Brazil. In 1922, this turmoil was reined in by a government imposed state of siege; the press was censored, and the various movements that opposed the oligarchical Republican project were repressed.

From September 1922 through July 1923, the city of Rio de Janeiro was the site of the International Exhibition in Celebration of the Centennial of Independence. Organized by the federal government, which built sumptuous pavilions for the event, the exhibition was intended to convey an image of progress and national union. The government had designed the show in hopes of garnering legitimacy at a difficult time, but by instigating reflections on Brazil’s past, present, and future at a moment of serious political crisis, the commemoration in fact seeded unease. Visitors grew more aware of conflict and social tension because the exhibition triggered concern about national construction and about Brazil’s place in world civilization. What, after all, was being celebrated? What brand of independence? What kind of nation? What kind of Brazilian people? What type of republic? The exhibition may to some extent have been a paean to the ruling order, but it also awoke society’s latent expectations and desire for change. As Hoffenberg has noted, “Exhibitions were meaningful events for participants struggling with the social, political, and economic dilemmas and opportunities of their era.”

From the very dawn of the twentieth century, countless intellectuals had criticized the reigning oligarchical regime, holding it accountable for the highhandedness of local authorities and the fact that people had been left to fend for themselves. More voices entered the debate about the roadblocks to nation building. Attention became focused on the vastness of the Brazilian land, on its people trapped in misery, illiteracy, and disease, and on the wholly irrational destruction of its natural riches. The prevailing political and economic liberalism was called into question, decried as excessive, and critiqued for motivating selfishness, while centralization of power was posited as an alternative raised above individual interests. Solutions were proposed for a political and institutional system that demanded more than the mere consensus of the elites and that would transform Brazil’s near nomadic population—until then rebuked as inferior—into healthy, educated, and hard-working people, indispensable to the building of a nation. These intellectuals urged society to adopt new attitudes  toward nature; Brazilians needed to learn about their country’s flora and fauna, its water resources and landscapes—and learn to value them—while the state had to effectively regulate environmental protection areas and national parks and exercise control over the exploration of natural resources throughout the national territory. Based on an authoritarianism characterized by voluntarism and an obsession with education, they believed that if the Brazilian people, in its most genuine expression, could be brought onto the stage through suitable measures, the result would be the emergence of a popular culture duly civilized through learned knowledge and superior reasoning—to wit, “authentic” nationality.

From 1926 to 1935, the National Museum regained momentum under the leadership of Edgard Roquette-Pinto. The institute modeled itself as a prime space for educational intervention and for the coordination of pedagogical projects for the people of Brazil, as well as a place where knowledge was produced. It introduced and enforced a bold and experimental multimedia project. As urban life and consumption became increasingly sophisticated in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where the museum was headquartered, its staff members embraced the era’s new means of communication, optimistic that new technologies would allow them to span the chasms yawning between them and Brazil’s ordinary men and women, lost in the vastness of their country.

The National Museum was home to a collaborative effort that drew researchers from an array of fields; they engaged in surprisingly varied initiatives that were not confined to the premises of the museum but reached into other institutional and social domains. Staff members like Roquette-Pinto, Alberto Sampaio, and Cândido de Mello Leitão organized public exhibits unprecedented in the history of the institution. They threw themselves into the Biblioteca Pedagógica (Educational Library) editorial project, headed by Fernando Azevedo, and particularly into its Brasiliana Collection, whose ultimate purpose was “to reveal Brazil for Brazilians.” They launched the journal Revista Nacional de Educação, a forum for science communication aimed at the broader public, whose circulation reached 15,000. They set up a radio station specializing in educational programming and ventured into cinema and the production of educational films. They organized notable events like the First Brazilian Congress for the Protection of Nature, in 1934. They led prolific scientific lives, participating in cultural exchange and attending international congresses. They helped make public policy, including the draft bill for the Game and Fish Code, which lay behind the law decreed by President Getúlio Vargas on January 2, 1934. They joined science associations and other civil society organizations. In fulfilling their “pedagogical mission,” the museum staff relied on a range of media, including print, photography, exhibits, movies, and radio programs. Its scientists also maintained close relations with the ruling powers and with other spaces that generated knowledge. Throughout their experiences, these men of science worked and thought collectively, constructing knowledge through frank dialogue. Moreover, they worked to accrue the technical expertise essential to the practical realization of these manifold projects.

The organizational heart of the activities and exhibits at the National Museum was certainly “the Brazilian nation,” and the burgeoning of biology as a fully established discipline figured largely in this work. Although the field had existed in Europe since the mid-nineteenth century, it was only in the early twentieth that biology laid down roots in Brazil. The troublesome presence of sick, ignorant, rebellious people was a quantitative and qualitative problem begging for a solution, and biology, as a “master of life,” was capable of addressing these ills. It lent itself to a variety of nationalistic practices fashioned within an authoritarian, salvationist political culture.

In the eyes of the museum staff, the field of natural history could describe and name things but could not address the full complexity of life, so it was unable to confront the challenges of Brazilians in distress. Biology, on the other hand, was a decisive form of knowledge, which supported scientific medicine and was based on scientific laboratory practices in the fields of physical anthropology, entomology (especially as applied to agriculture), eugenics, the theories of evolution and genetics, and even phytogeography, zoogeography, and ecology.

At a time when biology was taking shape as a field of its own, separate from (but not better than) natural history, the National Museum endeavored to renew its practices and present itself as an institution in step with the changing world of science. Some of its members also belonged to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences, founded in 1916, which valued specialized experts more than wise generalists, and they worked hard to earn esteem as scientists from specific fields. Yet in its practices, the museum displayed a dynamic and contradictory tendency: although many of its members wanted very much to become specialized scientists, their work with different media formats and with science communication took place in an atmosphere of blurred boundaries between the disciplines.

While striving to make a name for themselves in scientific circles, these scientists also sought government backing for their projects. Most importantly, they wanted themselves and their institute to play an active part in public policy making, and in this way their scientific activities constituted veritable political strategies.

Regina Horta Duarte is a professor of history at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Brazil. She is the author of several books, including Noites Circenses: Espetáculos de circo e teatro em Minas Gerais no século XIX and História e Natureza. She is a founding member of the Sociedad Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Historia Ambiental, and she was the founding editor-in-chief of the journal Historia Ambiental Latinoamericana y Caribeña.

In Activist Biology, Duarte explores the careers of three of these scientists as they leveraged biology as a strategy for change. Devoted to educational initiatives, they organized exhibits, promoted educational film and radio, wrote books, published science communication magazines, fostered school museums, and authored textbooks for young people. Their approach was transdisciplinary, and their reliance on multimedia formats was pioneering. Capturing a crucial period in Brazil’s history, this portrait of science as a creative and potentially transformative pathway will intrigue anyone fascinated by environmental history, museums, and the history of science. Duarte skillfully shows how Brazilian science furthered global scientific knowledge in ways that are relevant now more than ever.



On the Great Arizona Copper Strike, 1983-1986

August 31, 2018

During the 1983-86 copper miners’ strike against Phelps-Dodge, Anna Ochoa O’Leary served as one of the presidents of the Morenci Miner’s Women’s Auxiliary, an organization of women historically dedicated to support efforts of striking copper miners. She resigned that position when the strike ended and resumed her studies at the University of Arizona, where she is now an Associate Professor, the Head of Mexican American Studies, and Co-Director of the Binational Migration Institute. Today we share an excerpt from her contributions to the forthcoming volume Mexican Workers and the Making of Arizona:

ON THE MORNING OF AUGUST 19, 1983, sleepy residents of the sister cities of Clifton and Morenci in southeastern Arizona awoke to a strange pulsation: a miles-long convoy of armored tanks, vehicles, and Huey helicopters, fully equipped with armed soldiers and SWAT teams, making its way up the mountain road to its new front line: the gates of the company facilities. The drama unleashed by Arizona governor Bruce Babbitt to quash the Phelps Dodge copper strike at the Morenci mine was impressive even when the century-long struggle by workers to achieve better working conditions in Arizona’s copper industry is considered.

Writing about these events over thirty-four years later is challenging enough without writing about a personally tumultuous time for many, risking reopening many wounds. The strike virtually ripped families apart, mine included, having one brother on strike and another a strikebreaker. The scars left by the emotional wounds still haunt many today. The strike was also economically catastrophic. It is unpleasant to remember, yet I harbor some pride in doing so that I, too, like many striking families, suffered the indignity of being caught without enough money to buy a gallon of milk, and to suspect that it would only be a matter of time before economic necessity would uproot us from the life we knew to face uncertainties elsewhere. I am certain that among many striking families were children who could not understand their parents’ decision to participate in the strike, denying them stability and security.

A Brief Background to the Great Arizona Copper Strike

Arizona’s history is inextricably linked to copper mining, and mining is inextricably linked to the state’s geography and the geology of copper-ore deposits. There is no shortage of scholarship on this history. Early period mining was done on an individual basis, usually by prospectors who searched for surface mineral outcroppings, where they could be assured a high return for a low investment of time and money and little technology. In these early cases, the mine worker was likely to also be the mine owner. As bonanza–type vein deposits became depleted, mining became more capital and labor intensive. Together with the lack of technology to make extraction of copper deposits more efficient, the self-financing of mining operations by individuals became less profitable over time.

The Industrial Revolution stands out as a turning point in terms of the scale of production in the copper mining industry. The growing demand for copper followed the expansion of telegraph communication and, later, the electrical power needs of American industries and households. In turn, these would drive the technological innovations that would make the extraction of copper from low-grade ore possible and profitable. New ways of organizing production for greater efficiency also paved the way for how copper-producing companies would consolidate their power in the modern era. Wealthy European and East Coast investors began to buy out the small claims of individual prospectors. It is in this way that Arizona copper mining companies, such as the Phelps Dodge Corporation, came to control the natural resources needed for production (land, timber, and water) and, ultimately, amass great power and wealth. By the 1920s six companies were producing 56 percent of all the copper being produced in Arizona.

To be sure, the geographic isolation of most mining operations provided both disadvantages and advantages. The sister cities of Clifton and Morenci are geographically isolated in the rugged mountainous area of eastern Arizona, about 115 miles northeast from the nearest metropolitan city, Tucson, Arizona. With the lack of a diversified economic base that large population centers provide, the livelihood of families in these two small towns were largely dependent on the mine, as they continue to be today. Moreover, the skills acquired in mining production are not those that are easily transferred to other economic sectors. With greater consolidation and vertical integration, companies such as Phelps Dodge were able to exert greater control of its workers.

Arizona’s copper companies maintained their control of operations in several ways. They exerted power over labor directly, using intimidation, threats, and physical force and violence against workers to exploit them as much as possible. A famous example from history comes from the 1917 Bisbee Deportation, where Phelps Dodge, with the help of local law enforcement agents, rounded up presumed strikers and strike organizers and “deported” them to a remote location near Columbus, New Mexico. However, copper companies in Arizona also exerted their power indirectly, such as by influencing politicians and lawmakers to pass laws that were favorable to the industry. Such laws allowed companies to exploit natural resources and undermine competitors and unions.

Consequently, Arizona’s history is also pockmarked by acts of resistance by workers against mining companies, which many times resulted in turbulent labor strikes. In addition, while not all the striking miners were Mexican, Mexican laborers made up the largest percentage of the workforce. Several of these disputes are historically notable. In 1903 Mexican miners instigated a strike in Clifton over wage discrepancy. Benton-Cohen notes that this strike was primarily organized by Mexican workers. In 1906 a strike in the Mexican town of Cananea was primarily directed at the American-owned Green Copper Company. The strike deserves mention because although it was on Mexican territory, the workers were both American and Mexican, and it was quelled by the use of armed Arizona Rangers, who entered Mexico in support of an American mining operation.

During World War I, a series of strikes were organized in mining towns across Arizona (Clifton, Morenci, Ray, Globe, Miami, Jerome, and Bisbee), targeting the most wealthy and powerful companies in Arizona, including Phelps Dodge. During this time, workers had been drawn ideologically and politically to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW; also known as the Wobblies). A mine strike in Jerome organized by the IWW in May 1917 ended with strikers and union organizers, accused of being foreigners and subversives, being rounded up by armed agents of the mine owners and shipped by railroad cattle cars to Kingman, after being threatened with death if they returned to Jerome. Similar events took place in Bisbee, Arizona, in 1917.

During this rash of strikes across Arizona, copper companies were riding the wave of patriotism of the time and were able to violently suppress strikes with impunity. American labor leader Frank Little was lynched during this time. Violations of basic workers’ rights were so egregious that President Woodrow Wilson ordered an investigation of Arizona’s copper companies.

Consistent with this history, Chicago attorney Jonathan Rosenblum’s analysis of the 1983 copper strike demonstrates its national implications. In 1983 Phelps Dodge became a case study for defeating “union power buildup.” Ten years before the strike, Wharton School professor Herbert Northrup had developed a playbook, Operating during Strikes, containing strategies, which, if followed, were predicted to undermine strike actions. These included the contracting of tour buses to transport scabs to worksites en masse, reimbursing strikebreakers for any extra costs associated with strike activity, threatening strikers with the loss of their jobs with outside replacements, permanently replacing striking workers with nonunion workers, and cutting off medical benefits to strikers. All of these strategies were implemented in the 1983 strike. Scabs were bussed in from outside of Clifton and Morenci. Medical benefits were cut off. Letters were sent to strikers, threatening them that they would lose their jobs if they did not return to work at once. An open letter to John Bolles, manager of Phelps Dodge operations in Morenci, published in the Copper Era in July 1983, was written by an infuriated striker, Paul M. López, who accused Bolles and the company of “scare tactics” and intimidation to get strikers to cross the picket line. Following the Wharton playbook, the cost to implement the tactics was irrelevant. Rosenblum reports that the company lost $100 million in operations and claimed another $100 million in write-offs in 1984. Stockholders lost $220 million, or $92,000 per striker, demonstrating that Phelps Dodge’s refusal to settle with the thirteen striking unions went beyond efforts to save on the cost of wages. Even so, nothing was left to chance. Phelps Dodge also had the support of the state. Undercover agents with the Arizona State Criminal Intelligence Systems Agency (ACISA) infiltrated every union in the Clifton and Morenci mining district early in the strike, bugging nearly one out of every two meetings and monitoring the rest with informers. The history of Arizona’s copper mining industry is in this way a story of the collective efforts of workers, equipped only with time-tested ideologies and cultural practices designed to fulfill obligations to each other, resisted against all odds.

The End of Collective Bargaining and the 1983 Strike

Employees at Phelps Dodge Corp’s Morenci mine were greeted by yelling strikers and their supporters on on Aug. 9, 1983. The company announced a 24-hour shutdown of the plant later in the day in a compromise with striking employees. Women on the picket line. Photo by Mari Schaefer, 1983. Courtesy of Ricky Wiley, Arizona Daily Star.


To preempt the high cost of labor management conflicts, the major copper companies in Arizona and their labor unions historically relied on collective bargaining.  Collective bargaining was a long-established practice in which every three years the big five Arizona copper mining companies negotiated with all of Arizona’s unions at the same time. As part of the collective bargaining practice, every three years since 1968 there had been short (six-to eight-week) strikes, which offered a measurement of economic stability. In fact, mining families often planned vacations around these work stoppages.

However, a series of events would contribute to the demise of collective bargaining. The demand for copper significantly declined with the end of the Vietnam War. Mining had also become highly vulnerable to world market prices and competition.5 The World Bank increased its loans to copper-producing Third World nations whose lower production costs were possible with lower wages and lax environmental laws, and copper from these nations flooded the market. In 1980 the price of copper fell from a high of $1.27 per pound to $0.83 per pound. Phelps Dodge began to reduce some of its mining operations to cut operating costs. In April 1982, with the price of copper falling to $0.69 per pound, Phelps Dodge suspended all mining, milling, and smelting operations, and laid off most of its workers. In October 1982, more than half of the workforce was recalled and limited production resumed, while many waited to return to work.

In 1980 President Ronald Reagan sought economic relief for the nation through neoliberal policies. The worldwide recession had brought some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation’s history, and a surplus of workers. Reagan’s policies centered on reducing governmental regulations as a cost-saving strategy for industries to stimulate hiring. In 1981 Reagan’s also took a hardline stance against the air-traffic controllers union, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO) resulting in its decertification. This signaled to U.S. industries that the climate was ripe for ridding themselves of costly regulations and worker protections negotiated by unions over the years. A major casualty of these economic and political shifts was the loss of good-paying blue-collar jobs, which had been made largely possible through years of hard-fought negotiations by unions.

However, what remained imperceptible to the casual observer was that Phelps Dodge, with its extremely conservative views, had shown early signs of breaking from this collective bargaining pattern. Phelps Dodge had been openly critical of the largest of the Arizona copper companies, Kennecott, for its more liberal stance in bargaining with the unions. During their negotiations in the spring of 1983, Kennecott took its usual lead in negotiating a contract with its workers. The other companies—Magma, Inspiration, and ASARCO—pressured to enter into similar agreements with their workers out of fear of losing money, fell in line. However, Phelps Dodge, emboldened by one of the “harshest cost-benefit calculus possible,” held out. Not only did it refuse to agree to the basic terms as the other companies, it asked for additional concessions from its unions and an end to all side agreements dating back to the 1950s.

What followed was a strike by now-isolated thirteen union locals at the Morenci mine, and union workers in Ajo. Events climaxed on August 8, 1983, after Phelps Dodge reopened the mine with replacement scab labor, and thousands of strikers in Morenci blocked the gates to the mine.8 Reportedly to avert violence, Governor Babbitt traveled to Clifton and Morenci to force parties to the table to negotiate. A ten-day cooling-off period was agreed upon, during which time Phelps Dodge was to suspend operations. The workers were encouraged, and it was not until the morning of August 19 that they realized that they had been betrayed. The ten-day period had been used to organize the military intervention by way of 350 National Guard troops and 425 Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) troopers, who made their way up the hill in a convoy on that day. They set up camp outside the company gate while a team of 160 SWAT sharpshooters were also positioned in the hills outside the gates. Supporting this intervention was a restraining order signed by Judge John L. Claborne, which made it impossible for strikers to set up a picket line at the company gate.

Six months later, union negotiators again sat across from company officials to offer concessions only to find that Phelps Dodge had increased its demands. By this time, it was clear that it was more than a patterned agreement process that the company wanted to end. The strike’s conclusion in 1986 bore this out: It marked the defeat of thirteen union locals made up of over 2,400 workers. Rosenblum documents that at the peak of the labor dispute, about 4,250 residents, about half of whom were of Mexican descent, inhabited the incorporated town of Clifton. Another 2,300 lived four miles north in Phelps Dodge-owned housing. The end of the labor dispute also brought about the near collapse of the communities that surrounded the most profitable copper-producing company in the nation, with $110 million in profits in 1980, and the end of an era.

Anna Ochoa O’Leary is an Associate Professor, Head of Mexican American Studies, and Co-Director of the Binational Migration Institute at the University of Arizona. She received her Ph.D. in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation research, supported by a National Science Foundation dissertation improvement award, examined how Mexican-origin households invested in the education of its members, and women in particular. Dr. O’Leary’s current research focuses on immigration policy, the U.S.-Mexico border, gender issues, and the culture and urban politics of Mexican American and Mexican-origin populations in the United States.

Forthcoming this fall, Mexican Workers and the Making of Arizona expands our understanding of the critical role played by Mexican and Mexican American laborers in making Arizona a prominent and influential state in the Southwest and beyond.


Mark Nelson wins Independent Publisher’s Evergreen Medal

August 27, 2018

We’re thrilled to announce that Mark Nelson has been honored with an Independent Publisher Living Now Evergreen Medal for his book Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2.

One of the eight crew members locked in Biosphere 2 during its first closure experiment, Mark Nelson offers a compelling insider’s view of the dramatic story behind the mini-world. His book is a fresh examination of Biosphere 2, the world’s first man-made mini-world, twenty-five years after its first closure experiment. Exploring the project’s implications for today’s global environmental challenges, Pushing Our Limits offers a pathway for reconnecting people to a healthy relationship with nature.

Conducted annually, the Independent Publisher Book Awards honor the year’s best independently published titles from around the world and their Living Now Award Evergreen Medals commemorate world-changing books for “their contributions to positive global change.”



The Final Scream: An Excerpt from Ilan Stavans’ Sor Juana

August 21, 2018

A sixteenth-century Mexican nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, has become one of the most rebellious and lasting icons in modern times, on par with Mahatma Gandhi, Ernesto “Che” Guevara, and Nelson Mandela. Referenced in ranchera, tejana, and hip-hop lyrics, and celebrated in popular art as a guerrillera with rifle and bullet belts, Sor Juana has become ubiquitous. In anticipation of the release of his forthcoming book, Sor Juana: Or, the Persistence of Pop, we’re excited to share a brief excerpt from Ilan Stavans’ meditations on the legacy of this celebrated feminist icon. 

Eko, “Primero Sueño Series,” 1

She shows up as a guerrillera, with rifle and bullet belts. Or replaces the screamer in Edvard Munch’s famous expressionist painting of 1910. She dances in heaven with Marc Chagall’s ethereal characters. Stands next to the Beatles and other added luminaries in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Wears a shoulder tattoo. Is the protagonist of a telenovela. Or a 1993 opera. The target of countless homages by literati such as Gabriela Mistral, Amado Nervo, Xavier Villaurrutia, and José Lezama Lima. A play mounted by the Royal Shakespeare Company, staged in Stratford-upon-Avon in 2012. A Halloween cus­tom. And an animated TV series.

Even more frequently, she is paid tribute to in ranchera, tejano, and hip-hop lyrics. Is on a stamp. And, between 1988 and 1992, on the $1,000 peso bill, which was pushed out by inflation, becoming the $200 peso note, also with her semblance. She is a doll. A piñata. Drops by in high heels. Is on T-shirts. On expensive watches. Chillin’ next to an open book. And, frequently, chatting on her iPhone.

The conduits keep multiplying: statues, Lotería cards, key chains, recipe books, coffee mugs, Día de los Muertos costumes . . . Along with Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Evita Perón, she is ubiquitous.

Teresa Villegas, “Sor Juana: Lotería” (2000)

Ironically, Juana de Asbaje—alias Sor Juana de la Cruz—died in anonymity. Her grave was unmarked for almost three hundred years, until the 1970s, when the Convent of Santa Paula of the Order of San Jerónimo, where she spent her last years, underwent renova­tion and her remains were purportedly identified. It was a symbolic moment, since she was firmly grounded in the pantheon of Mexican icons. A few years later, Octavio Paz would publish a landmark—if controversial—biography, Sor Juana: Or, The Traps of Faith (1982), portraying her as a key intellectual figure in the journey of Latin America toward modernity, which in his view “is still an unhealed wound.”

Even with the honorific “the Tenth Muse,” it would surely sur­prise her to come across the iconographic machine she has nur­tured. In the land of “bad hombres,” she is a rabble-rouser. A vocal one. Virginia Woolf once said: “The truth is, I often like women. I like their unconventionality. I like their completeness. I like their ano­nymity.” The truth is, after her death nothing related to Sor Juana is anonymous.

In poor health and besieged by the merciless campaign of intimidation her supe­riors were orchestrating, she drafted her uneasy lines meticulously, as if aware that she was signing her own death sentence. She was forty-three.

Jim Reed, “Sor Juana’s Heart” (2009)

Until a few months earlier, her star had shone bright and high. Time and again she had challenged the male-dominated intellectual milieu, emerging triumphant to the applause of one viceregal court after another. While she was occasionally confronted by a prioress, cautioned by her confessor against sacrilegious misconduct, and rep­rimanded by a representative of the archbishop of Mexico, Francisco Aguiar y Seijas, her position in the Convent of Santa Paula was secure. And her reputation as the premier Baroque poet in New Spain, as Mexico was known in the seventeenth century, reached far beyond—from Quito to Lima, from the Philippines to the Iberian Peninsula.

But now, sequestered in her convent cell, she was alone and lonely. As she drafted her response, dated March 1, 1691, she knew her fate was no longer in her hands. The delicate balance that she had successfully maintained most of her adult life had finally col­lapsed. Envy and resentment surrounded her. So she made sure her double message was unclouded. She confessed her “insignificance” as a woman, her “vile nature,” her “unworthiness.” She did so mainly because she wished “no quarrel with the Holy Office, for I am igno­rant, and I tremble that I may express some proposition that will cause offense or twist the true meaning of some scripture.” However, she seized the occasion to denounce openly the repressive, misog­ynistic atmosphere that surrounded her and the criticism that had targeted her as a poet.

While she wrote it as a private letter, she had reason to believe it would become a civic affront, and so she let herself go. Sick, anxious, persecuted by visible ghosts, Sor Juana allowed herself un último gri­to—a final scream, a shriek of desperation—promising afterward to lose herself forever in the passive piety forced by the Catholic Church on scores of anonymous nuns.

Ilan Stavans at his Amherst home.

Ilan Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin ­American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. An internationally renowned, award-­winning essayist and translator and the recipient of many honors, his recent books include Quixote, Borges, the Jew, and I Love My Selfie.

An Excerpt from Fire Survey of California by Stephen J. Pyne

August 10, 2018

In the To The Last Smoke series Stephen J. Pyne describes the nation’s fire scene region by region. Today we offer an excerpt from California: A Fire Survey. Pyne is a historian in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is the author of many successful books, mostly on wildland fire and its history, but also dealing with the history of places and exploration.

Conflagrating California
By Stephen J. Pyne

California burns, and frequently conflagrates. The coastal sage and shrublands burn. The mountain-encrusting chaparral burns. The montane woodlands burn. The conifer-clad Sierra Nevada burns. The patchy forests of isolated Sierra basins; the oak savannas, on hillsides turning golden in summer; the seasonal wetlands and tules; the rain-shadowed deserts, after watering by El Niño cloudbursts; the thick forests of the rumpled Coast Range; the steppe grasslands of the Modoc lava fields; sequoia, exotic brome, chamise, sugar pine—all burn according to local rhythms of wetting and drying. The roll call of combustible plants and places goes on and on. An estimated 54 percent of California ecosystems are fire dependent, and most of the rest are fire adapted. Only the most parched of Mojave deserts, stony summits, perennial wetlands, and fog-sodden patches of the coast are spared. Not only do fires burn everywhere, but they can persist for weeks and can, from time to time, erupt into massive busts or savage outbursts. Fires can burn something every year. Fire season, so the saying goes, lasts 13 months. Like earthquakes, California experiences a constant background of tremors occasionally broken by a Big One.

This is not news. Anyone even casually familiar with California knows it burns, whether those fires be conflagrating chamise or gas-combusting autos. In fact, most of the United States burns, or can burn, or has burned historically, and virtually every California fire regime resembles those nearby. The northern Coast Ranges and Cascades burn like those in Oregon. The Central Valley is a larger, drier version of the Willamette. The Sierra Nevada looms like a gargantuan Sky Island, the lithic anchor for the Basin Range. The Mojave Desert laps into the Great Basin and Sonoran Deserts. California’s shrublands are Arizona’s on steroids. Each biota, in brief, has an echo elsewhere. Northern California has lightning fire busts; so do the Cascades. Southern California has extensive burns; so does central Nevada. California slams disparate regimes together; so do most west-ern states. Eastern and western Washington, or northern and southern Idaho, have as little in common as the California’s postmodern pastiche.

Rather, what makes California’s fire scene distinctive is how its dramatically distinctive biomes have been yoked to a common system and how its fires burn with a character and on a scale commensurate with the state’s size and political power. California has not only a ferocity of flame but a cultural intensity that few places can match. In the early years Northern California commanded the scene; after World War II, South-ern California; but the state as a whole has a concentrated firepower without parallel elsewhere. Northern California beat back the challenge from light-burning by devising systematic fire protection: Southern California dampened the movement to restore fire by pushing fire management into an urban fire-service model. In the pyrogeography of America, California is the great disturbance in the Force. In ways unmatched by any other region it has projected its presence—its fires and fire practices—throughout the country.

The reasons involve more than bigness alone. In some years Alaska has immense fires, some the size of northeastern states, yet they do not upend national policies. Texas holds more land, and in recent years has been overrun by fires larger in area than those that sweep California, yet those flames have not bonded with a national agenda. New York has a similarly split geography between concentrated metropolis and rural countryside, with the “forever wild” Adirondacks as a wilderness backdrop, yet it remains invisible on the national fire scene. By contrast, California’s fires are instantly and hugely broadcast, they infect national institutions, they have repeatedly defined the discourse of fire’s history. No other state has so shaped the American way of fire.

Along with Texas and Alaska, it has long behaved as a state-nation. The issue is more than size: Nevada is large, but until recently it grew as an appendage to California; its fire busts pass through the national consciousness with no more effect than wind gusts over a salt playa. The state-nations, by contrast, have unusual political histories, land owner-ship patterns, and creation stories that make them exceptional. Texas was a latent nation for nearly 10 years, although effectively a protectorate of the United States; and when it entered the union, it did not surrender its unpatented lands. A large place with a small population, it never developed adequate institutions, relied on “big men” (large landowners or cattle or oil barons) to run society, and evolved a lively folk culture. Alaska was a territory for 90 years, geographically and politically isolated from the rest of the country, and when it was admitted, it was able to negotiate a division of lands and retain many federal subsidies not available elsewhere. Like Texas a high culture never took root and it had a distinctive origins myth. Unsurprisingly, both voice secessionist tendencies during times of stress. Texas tends to view the United States as France does the European Union, as a means to amplify and project Texas values. Alaska sees the United States as a source of economic subsidy, often behaving more like a country bonded under a commonwealth than like one of the 50 states.

California shares their size, political isolation, and sense of separate selfhood. It began—almost—as a separate country during the Bear Flag republic; by agreeing to accept existing Mexican land grants with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it carved out the choicest lands and created a pattern of large landowners; with the gold rush it has an origins myth founded on a peculiar dynamic of untrammeled individualism and in its early moments of unfettered exploitation. Unlike Alaska it has a fully functioning economy, although one sharply subsidized. Unlike Texas it has never confused size with significance. It has been independent but never secessionist. Unlike Texas, too, it has a bond to high culture; from its onset it has attracted an urban and intellectual society, rich in literature, painting, and later film, which it has reshaped and broadcast back across the country. And unlike Texas it has not exploited the national scene to magnify California sensibilities, but has seen itself as coalescing and shaping a national story, and even an international one. California’s is, paradoxically, a cosmopolitan parochialism. All this is reflected in the character of its fires.

California is, in Wallace Stegner’s oft-repeated remark, like the rest of America only more so. Today, nearly one in nine Americans lives in California; the California economy is the eighth largest in the world; and depending on perspective California either anchors or weighs down national trends. The California fire scene boasts commensurate dimensions. Southern California holds one of the three dominant wildland fire cultures in the United States; it commands 50 percent of the national fire budget, and an inordinate fraction of the nation’s fuels management funds; it claims most fireline fatalities, 35 percent; it has one of two national fire research labs and one of two fire equipment development facilities. Of the 11 coordination centers that make up the national fire dispatching system, two lie wholly within California. That profound distortion is also historical: California was where the debate between fire fighting and fire lighting as alternative national policies was fought out, where systematic fire planning was first devised, where presuppression schemes achieved their most grandiloquent expression, where air attack and the interregional hotshot crew emerged, and where the modern organizational structure for fire—the incident command system—was hammered out before going national, and then global. The California model proved portable in ways the Florida model or the Great Plains model never did.

California is indeed like the rest of the country only more so.

Stephen J. Pyne is a historian in the School of Life Sciences at Arizona State University. He is the author of more than twenty-five books, including The Ice: A Journey to Antarctica, How the Canyon Became Grand: A Short History, and Voyager: Exploration, Space, and the Third Great Age of Discovery. He is also the author of Between Two Fires: A Fire History of Contemporary America, published by the University of Arizona Press.

Frederick Luis Aldama’s Latinx Superheros in Mainstream Comics takes home Eisner

July 23, 2018

At this year’s Comic-Con International, Frederick Luis Aldama’s Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics took home the prestigious Eisner Award for Best Academic/Scholarly Work.

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, considered the “Oscars” of the comic book industry, are handed out each year in a gala ceremony at Comic-Con International: San Diego. Named for renowned cartoonist Will Eisner (creator of “The Spirit” and pioneer of the graphic novels), the Awards are given out in more than two-dozen categories covering the best publications and creators of the previous year.

The foremost expert on Latinx comics, Frederick Luis Aldama guides us through the full archive of all the Latinx superheros in comics since the 1940s in the award winning book. As part of our Latinx Pop Culture series, Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics takes us where the superheroes live—the barrios, the hospitals, the school rooms, the farm fields—and he not only shows us a view to the Latinx content, sometimes deeply embedded, but also provokes critical inquiry into the way storytelling formats distill and reconstruct real Latinos/as.

In the media blitz following the award ceremony, Aldama took the time to discuss the award and his scholarship with Comicosity‘s Chris Hernandez, who “has been a comic book fan since his first pair of Superman Underroos”:

Chris Hernandez: First of all, congratulations on your Eisner Award for Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics! What was your reaction when you found out you had won?

Frederick Luis Aldama: Chris, when they read out the nominated scholars and their respective books, my ears went into silence mode, my eyes turned downward, and my brain found a cushion to ready for disappointment.  Then they announced it. Disbelief. Elation. Confusion.

I really mean this. I wasn’t prepared at all for it. I knew my competition, including 4-time Eisner nominee and brilliant colleague at OSU, Jared Gardner, so I went to the ceremony to celebrate the triumphs of others, including friend, co-creator, and co-founder of SÕLCON: Brown & Black Comics Expo, John Jennings who picked up an Eisner with his copilot, Damian Duffy for Kindred.  To attend the Eisner Awards Ceremony, I walked off the convention floor in my jeans, T-shirt–and with absolutely nothing prepared for an acceptance. Everyone else was dressed to the nines and had eloquent speeches tucked in their back pockets.

I dedicated the award to all the comics creators (in the room and beyond) who get it right, to my students who carry the comics scholarly torch forward, and to my mamá who died young of cancer from all those pesticides they drop in strawberry fields across California.

I had to catch the last plane out that night so unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for the after party—when the real fun was to be had. And, I asked if they could send me the Eisner Award trophy. I didn’t want problems with TSA at the airport. Four days later and my head’s still spinning!

Read the full interview here.

LSA 2018 Recap

July 19, 2018

This past weekend we attended the Latinx Studies Association’s Biennial Conference in Washington D.C., where approximately 550 registered attendees came together to support and promote Latinx research. Some highlights included a panel featuring UA Press authors Norma Cantú and Urayoán Noel. Our anthology Poetry of Resistance was also highlighted as a key book representing the new era of Chicano activism. It was a pleasure to see long time UA Press supporter Francisco Aragón curate an evening of poetry readings, which included Blas Falconer and Urayoán Noel.

The panels at this year’s conference were incredibly well attended and emphasized Latinx from Central America and the Caribbean, as well as Latinx in the Midwest. Our Editor-in-Chief Kristen Buckles participated in two panels herself, including one on Latinx publishing and another designed to help junior scholars revise their dissertations.

Thank you to all who stopped by the Press’s booth to say hello and support the scholarship we so proudly publish!

Urayoán Noel showing off his poetry collection “Buzzing Hemispheres”

Belinda Linn Rincón proudly displays her book “Bodies at War”

Norma Cantú and UA Press Editor-In-Chief Kristen Buckles

Five Questions with Archaeologists Timothy A. Kohler and Michael E. Smith

In the new volume Ten Thousand Years of Inequality archaeologists Timothy A. Kohler and Michael E. Smith, along with other leading archaeologists, provide analysis of ten millennia of wealth disparities in the ancient world. Today, they answer our questions about the nature and implications of wealth disparity in the distant past.

Why did you embark on this project?

Timothy A. Kohler

TK: I have a habit—not sure if it’s good or bad—of reading as widely as I can, including lots of things that are outside of archaeology. That’s brought me into contact with books like The Origin of Wealth by Eric Beinhocker (2006) and Ian Morris’ 2010 book Why the West Rules—For Now. Over the years I’ve also had interesting contacts with a number of economists, most of whom I met through the Santa Fe Institute: people like Sam Bowles, John Miller, and Brian Arthur. All this gave me motivation to study wealth inequality (and the wider problem of how wealth gets created). Then at some point I ran across Mike Smith’s 2014 publication with good ideas about how we can measure abstract quantities like wealth in the archaeological record, even without texts. That provided a method. When I want to understand a new measure I try applying it to a dataset set I know well, so I decided to see what would happen if I looked at wealth inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient in the archaeological record of the Dolores Archaeological Project, which I was lucky enough to be involved in from 1979–1985. The result was a short report in Current Anthropology in 2016. By that point Mike and I started collaborating.

Michael E. Smith

MS: I have been interested for a long time in the nature of social inequality in ancient cities and state-level societies. This goes back to my undergraduate senior honors thesis, which asked the question of whether houses of different wealth or status levels at Teotihuacan could be distinguished on the basis of their artifacts. Most of the fieldwork throughout my career has been addressed—at least in part—at issues of wealth variation within and between Aztec settlements. I experimented with using the Gini coefficient in a 1992 publication, and then let it drop for a while. In 2012 I revisited my earlier work and added some new cases and published a paper (2014) on wealth inequality at Aztec sites (the paper Tim mentions). Then in about 2013 Tim and I had a short meeting with Sam Bowles at the Santa Fe Institute. Sam is a leading economist on the issue of social inequality in society today. He was branching out to study inequality in the past, using the Gini coefficient, and he encouraged Tim and me to do more work on the topic. We decided to see who else was working along these lines, and we organized a symposium at the 2016 SAA meetings on ancient inequality. That led to an advanced seminar at the Amerind Foundation, which was the basis of our book.

When we say “ancient wealth,” what do we mean?

MS: “Wealth” refers to valuable resources, both the possession of such resources and access to them.  Today inequality is measured in money: both income and total wealth. Most ancient societies did not have money (or if they did, we have little information on the wealth of most individuals), but a variety of material remains do reflect the wealth of individual households. Of the various such remains (e.g., portable artifacts, burial goods), the strongest measure of household wealth is the size of the house.

TK: We’ve both been influenced by an important series of papers (with a large number of co-authors) that came out in Current Anthropology in 2010 on “Intergenerational Wealth Transmission and Inequality in Premodern Societies.” These papers identified three main types of wealth: embodied (for example, number of offspring), relational (for example, number of trade partners or allies), and material (for example, acres of fields, size of herds). One reason we settled on house size as our preferred measure (other than the fact that it can be measured for many sites) is that it seems to integrate aspects of all these dimensions.

How do archaeologists describe and measure who is wealthy and who is not?

TK: Over the years archaeologists have tried a number of different measures. Some of these (for example, the costs embedded in the materials found in the house or in its associated trash) probably work fairly well but most of them are also subject to various “formation processes.” For example, some houses get cleaned out before they are abandoned, whereas others are accidentally burned with all their materials inside. In some sites, it is straightforward to associate extramural trash with a specific house, in others it is nearly impossible. One reason we settled on house size is that it relatively immune to such confounding factors.

MS: In order to be consistent in comparing the wealth measures from different regions and time periods, we mostly limited our consideration to the sizes of houses. Several chapter authors touched on other measures of wealth at their sites, but all contributed house size measurements. Our basic assumption (borne out by a number of ethnographies) is that wealthier people live in larger houses. While this is not an absolute statement, it does work well in many cases where we know the house sizes and have independent measures of wealth. This justifies our reliance on house size.

Since publication, your book has received a lot of notice, including an article for the public in Smithsonian Magazine. Why do you think this concept is so interesting to people right now?

MS: Wealth inequality is hot topic today, both among economists and other social sciences, and by the press and the public. The level of wealth concentration in the U.S. is now much higher than it has ever been in the past. A variety of social problems seem to flow from pronounced wealth inequality in a society. The fact that we were able to present data in inequality in the past – using a measure that other scholars understand and use all the time (the Gini coefficient) – helps make our work more attractive to a wider audience.

TK: I think there’s a widespread feeling, at least in the U.S., that even though unemployment has been declining for a number of years, most people aren’t making the same sort of economic progress that was widespread from the 1950s through the 1970s. It is also widely understood that Gini indices computed on total wealth were also a lot lower (indicating more equitable distribution) than now. It’s easy enough to put these two facts together. That naturally makes people interested in what causes concentration of wealth, and whether there have long-term trends that help us understand its consequences.

What are you working on now?

TK: The data we published in the book are a nice start, but there are many regions (most of Africa and all of South America, for example) that were not represented. I’m working with a group (that includes Mike) to start a project to fill in these data gaps, and also to make more progress on the causes of changes in wealth concentration in different regions, and through time.

MS: In addition to participating in Tim’s project that continues our work on ancient inequality, I am working on Teotihuacan. I recently took over as Director of the ASU Teotihuacan Archaeological Laboratory, and I am completing some of the unfinished analyses, of the influential Teotihuacan Mapping Project. I am also writing a book on early cities that will be called something like “Urban Life in the Distant Past: Archaeology and Comparative Urbanism,” and I am involved with several interdisciplinary research projects on cities.

Timothy A. Kohler is Regents professor of anthropology at Washington State University. His most recent book, edited with Mark D. Varien, is Emergence and Collapse of Early Villages: Models of Central Mesa Verde Archaeology.

Michael E. Smith is a professor of archaeology at Arizona State University. His latest book is the prize-winning At Home with the Aztecs: An Archaeologist Uncovers Their Daily Life.

Five Questions with Planetary Science Historian William Sheehan

June 19, 2018

In Discovering Pluto historian William Sheehan along with his co-writer Dale P. Cruikshank uncover the behind-the-scenes history of the enigmatic and much discussed icy orb at the edge of our solar system. Today, William answers our questions about the outer Solar System.

William Sheehan and Alan Stern at Lowell Observatory, June 2018

Why do you think Pluto has so captured the public imagination since it was first identified by Clyde Tombaugh in the 1930s?

From times immemorial, there were five planets—wanderers—tracing movements across the starry background of the night sky. After the Copernican revolution, the Earth of course became a planet, like the others traveling around the Sun, but still Saturn marked the outer boundary of the Solar System, and the stars were at unfathomable distances beyond. This ancient picture changed in 1781, when William Herschel discovered Uranus. Suddenly the scale of the Solar System had doubled, and within a few short years other astronomers began to discover new planets, as they were then called; these were the asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. Inspired either by the discovery of Uranus itself or by the first asteroids, Keats wrote the stirring lines,

“Then felt I like some watcher of the skies/When a new planet swims into his ken.”

Uranus began after a few years to wander inexplicably off course, and this led two mathematical investigators—John Couch Adams in England and Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier in France—to use the discrepancies in its movements to calculate the position of an unseen planet beyond—Neptune—whose optical discovery was made on the basis of these calculations in Berlin in September 1846. This was seen at the time as the greatest achievement of Newtonian celestial mechanics—the discovery of a planet, “with the stroke of a pen.” Adams and Le Verrier were duly enshrined in the pantheon of astronomical greats. Few developments in astronomy were awarded greater accolades than this, literal discovery of a new world.

Le Verrier himself thought that there might be another planet inside the orbit of Mercury, and even gave it a name, Vulcan; it does not exist, and never did—the movements for which its existence was invoked were explained by Einstein on the basis of the General Theory of Relativity in 1915. However, Uranus continued, apparently, to be wandering off course, even after Neptune was entered into the equations. Several astronomers, of whom Percival Lowell was the most celebrated, developed an elaborate program to track down another putative planet—Planet X—which might be indicating its presence as Neptune had done for Adams and Le Verrier. Lowell was an extraordinarily colorful and interesting figure, who is best remembered for founding the Southwest’s (and Arizona’s) first major observatory in Flagstaff, and for his exciting and provocative theories about the canals of Mars, which won over the general public (and inspired science fiction writers like Wells and Burroughs) but were harshly criticized by many professional astronomers. Lowell’s motivations in searching (secretively for the most part) for “X” were complex, and included the hope that recapitulating the great feat of Adams and Le Verrier would restore his prestige in the eyes of other astronomers. Unfortunately, Planet X was undiscovered when he died in November 1916.

The story of how later the search was resurrected at his observatory, how a self-taught farm boy from Kansas (Clyde Tombaugh) was hired to carry out the mind-numbing and backbreaking work of searching for it on photographic plates exposed in all weather under the stars, and how Clyde found a planet that at first was hailed as the incarnation of the icy planet of Percival’s dreams in 1930 provided the perfect coda to the story of frustrated ambition redeemed by faith and hard work. The planet was also the first discovered by an American, and came just as the Great Depression—and the rise of Fascism in Europe—were getting underway, so that the world, and Americans in particular, were in need of “good news.” In the end, Pluto proved to be a most peculiar planet, and was shown—rather definitively by Dale Cruikshank and David Morrison who in 1976 discovered the presence of methane ice on the surface—to be smaller than the Earth’s moon, and has now been seen as a kind of dual object—planetary in some ways, including rotundity and having an active (if extraordinarily odd) geology, but also the largest of the Kuiper Belt Objects which roam the outer Solar System.

What was the most surprising thing you uncovered during your research for Discovering Pluto?

The most surprising thing was what the New Horizons probe found when it passed by Pluto in July 2015. Most people, including me, had probably expected a cold and inert world, not perhaps unlike that the celebrated British astronomy writer Patrick Moore had invoked in 1955, “Beyond all doubt, Pluto is the loneliest and most isolated world in the Solar System—cut off from its fellows, plunged in everlasting dusk, silent, barren, and touched with the chill of death.” Far from it; instead, areas of Pluto show evidence of quite recent geological activity, with changing “land” forms that consist of exotic ices—including recently, methane ice dunes in Sputnik Planitia. It is also exciting to see—on an actual body in the Solar System—examples of the behavior of these ices that has already been elucidated in the laboratory.

You have written many books about planetary science, including Planet Mars. What keeps you coming back to writing these histories?

I have been fortunate in having been born just before Sputnik went into orbit around the Earth, and being consciously aware as the first spacecraft set out for the Moon and planets. I acquired my first small telescope in the mid-1960s, at a time when visual observations by amateur astronomers were still often better than the most detailed photographs by professional astronomers at the great observatories, and when it still seemed that amateurs might contribute usefully to their study. When I started out, Mariner 4 had not yet passed by Mars (July 1965, fifty years to the day before New Horizons made its Pluto flyby!), and it was still possible—just—to believe in Percival Lowell’s canals of Mars! Mariner 4—which showed there were craters on Mars—brought what seemed at the time to be a Great Disillusionment; almost like finding out (and I was at that age, just ten or so) that Santa Claus didn’t exist.

Robert Burnham, Jr, who wrote the Celestial Handbook series, and used the Pluto telescope for the proper motion study at Lowell Observatory in the 1960s, was a mentor, and encouraged me to look at Comet Ikeya-Seki in October 1965—it remains the most spectacular comet I have ever seen. This shows how important an interest of a professional can be in encouraging a young person. After a number of years, I was invited (in the summer of 1982) to Lowell as a guest investigator with a somewhat tentative project of trying to understand how observers like Lowell could have seen canals on Mars when obviously there are no canals. Art Hoag was the director then, and Bill Hoyt, who had written the landmark book Lowell and Mars published by University of Arizona Press, was in-residence historian. While there—and coming into contact with the observing books of Lowell and his associates, and seeing how their visions of canals gradually unfolded and became elaborated over time—and also observing directly through the Clark telescope they had used, I had a flash of insight—I was in the NAU library at the time; I remember it as if it were yesterday–that the key aspect no one had recognized was that because of fluctuating seeing the canals were seen only in brief intervals of a fraction of a second or so. All the observers of the canals—including Clyde Tombaugh, who graciously corresponded with me on his experiences—described this. Thus the phenomena of the canals could be related to experimental psychology. I had always been drawn to interdisciplinary work—this has become the fashion now but at the time represented an aspiration that was more honored in the breach than the observance, simply because the various disciplines had become so developed and complex that it was difficult for anyone to master them at the same time. In any case, I came away from Lowell with the thesis of a book—Planets and Perception—which I drafted during the summer of 1983, while living in a small town in southern Minnesota, just across from the Iowa border, with no resources more than those I brought with me and the Carnegie library with a six-foot shelf of books on astronomy, physics, and math. In retrospect, I think I was crazy to tackle such an ambitious project more or less alone and unaided; had I been in a graduate program, I might have worked for ten years on it, but I finished the draft in several months and then—put it away in a desk drawer as I began my medical studies.

Eventually, I got around to submitting it—and did so only to one publisher, the University of Arizona Press. Though they quailed a bit at the cross-disciplinary nature of the thing—and had to send it out to three academic reviewers, two astronomers and one psychologist!—they graciously accepted it. It was published thirty years ago in November, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was in my internship then. In January, I got a good review from Richard Baum in the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, which I remember reading in the on-call room, and thought that I was lucky to get that. By early May, I was at morning rounds on the psych service the VA in Minneapolis; the attending physician, Charlie Dean, who subscribed to Nature, rather casually congratulated me on the review the book had received in Nature by the renowned historian of science, Albert Van Helden. I was over the Moon. Of course, the book had many faults which I see only too clearly now—how could it not?—but proved to be quite seminal in its small way, and I will always be grateful to the University of Arizona Press for taking a chance with an unknown scholar and a very experimental piece of work and believing in it.

But to get back to your question, this book has defined my lifelong career interest—and until recently, when I retired, I have been both a practicing psychiatrist, interested in the brain and the way we “know,” and a historian of astronomy—and have found the history of Solar System studies during this period of time to be perhaps the most important thing we as a species have done. It has been our Parthenon, our Cathedrals. Obviously there are a lot of writers who understand this, and have devoted themselves to the documentation of this wonderful era, including many of the scientists who have been in the forefront of research (like Dale Cruikshank, my co-author of Discovering Pluto). But I think my background in psychiatry has given me a somewhat unique perspective on the human angle of this story, and that story—the exploration of the Solar System—is, after all, passionately and irreducibly a human story, whose grandeur and magnificence far exceeds the explorations (and too often bloody) conquests of previous eras. It collectively represents some of the best aspects of human nature, Something, I would add, that we desperately need to affirm and reaffirm at the present time, when it is too easy to be disillusioned about our species in light of some of its more unsavory aspects. These are things that keep drawing me back to this subject.

With the New Horizons space probe back in action after a 6-month break, what do you think will be the next chapter in Pluto’s history?

We are looking forward to New Horizons’ close approach to another KBO, MU69, which most of us expect to show only an ancient battered landscape. But as with Pluto, we are foolish not to expect to be pleasantly surprised, and perhaps we will discover fresh patches of surface exposed by a recent collision with another KBO, in which case we may have an opportunity to see deeper into the interior where so much of the early history of the Solar System lies hidden.

What are you working on now?

I have been working on a series of books on each of the planets for Reaktion Press in Great Britain—so far I have finished Jupiter and Mercury, and am on to Saturn. I am also working on a book on Mars with Jim Bell for the University of Arizona Press, who is the PI on the camera system for the 2020 Mars rover (and sample return mission). As with the Pluto book written with Dale, I will be covering mostly the historical backgrounds, in this case how we came to know Mars (including our long tendency to see it as the image of the Earth, or even of Arizona!), while Jim will take over the torch and bring to it his unrivaled knowledge of the spacecraft era. I always prefer, by the way, if possible, to work in collaboration, as it not only provides an opportunity for me to greatly extend the range of my own knowledge but also is as much more enjoyable for the shared companionship.

William Sheehan is a historian of astronomy and psychiatrist. His many books include Planets and Perception, Worlds in the Sky, and The Planet Mars, also published by the University of Arizona Press.  Asteroid No. 16037 was named in his honor.

Latinas/os, Hipster Racism, and Post-Racial TV

June 14, 2018

Interweaving discussions about the ethnic, racial, and linguistic representations of Latinas/os within network television comedies, Isabel Molina-Guzmán’s Latinas and Latinos on TV: Colorblind Comedy in the Post-racial Network Era probes published interviews with producers and textual examples from hit programs like Modern Family, The Office, and Scrubs to understand how these prime-time sitcoms communicate difference in the United States. Understanding the complex ways that audiences interpret these programs, Molina-Guzmán situates her analysis within the Obama era, a period when ethnicity and race became increasingly grounded in “hipster racism,” and argues that despite increased inclusion, the feel-good imperative of TV comedies still inevitably leaves racism, sexism, and homophobia uncontested:

Colorblind Humor

Given the imperative to avoid controversy and broadcast programming able to attract the largest audience possible, the social and political context in which post-racial era comedy airs is central to understanding the role of colorblind ideology. For example, the first season of The Office was created, produced, and broadcasted at the peak of post–September 11th ethnic and racial tensions toward immigrants. Indeed, two months after “Diversity Day” aired, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the “Sensenbrenner Bill,” H. R. 4437, a bill targeting the U.S.–Mexico border and Mexican immigration as potential sites of terror. In this context, Carell’s deadpan delivery and Oscar’s angry but muted response potentially reinforce the show’s colorblind humor, a type of comedy that depends on audiences’ agreement, or at least familiarity, with the national anti-immigrant discourse and the white heteronormative values of the show. The network’s censorship decisions in this episode further illustrate the social boundaries of racial humor.

By the logic of the network’s censors, it is permissible to air comedy grounded in racist views about Mexicans, but it is not acceptable to equate racism with sexual aberrance and class on the air. Within the story arc of the series, Carell’s character is never demoted and rarely disciplined for his socially inappropriate and legally questionable actions.

The episode illustrates Doane’s (2014) observation that colorblind ideology in U.S. popular culture depends on the ability to see skin color and understand socially appropriate behavior even as audiences ignore the significance of color, race, or ethnicity to U.S. political and cultural life. As “Diversity Day” illustrates, the joke depends on Oscar’s ethnic identity as a Mexican American. The only two supporting characters originally written into the pilot were Kevin and African American office mate Stanley Hudson (Leslie David Baker). Although Nuñez is Afro-Cuban, the writers specifically developed his character as Mexican American. It may be reasonably concluded that the writers saw the actor’s and character’s ethnic identity as central to the production of the show. In another episode considered central to the development and success of the series, the character of Oscar, whom the writers decided to depict as a gay man after season 1, is accidentally outed by Michael (“The Gay Witch Hunt” 2006).

Colorblind humor is particularly effective for network television because it shifts social responsibility from the text and its production to the audience and its reception of the text. It is not the executives’ or producers’ problem, after all, if the biases of mainstream white audiences shape how they read the text. Yet, as Kristen Warner  (2015) notes, colorblind ideology in U.S. popular culture depends on the everyday invisibility of white privilege, even as ethnic and racial inequalities persist. Changes in the writing of Michael’s character from the first season to the third further contribute to the erasure of whiteness and white male privilege. Throughout the first three seasons, the rudeness and more explicitly racial and ethnic prejudices of Michael’s character made him more culpable and less likeable to audiences. As the series progressed, Carell’s depiction of Michael softened, eventually giving way to a more sympathetic, well-meaning character who through no fault of his own is an ingénue when it comes to ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual difference. Michael’s character is, as Warner describes, the result of white prejudice as “rare and aberrational rather than systemic and ingrained” (8). Michael’s character becomes the symbol of implicit individual bias rather than the racist production of white privilege. By the end of the series, it is the character’s ridiculous behavior (and not his status as a white heterosexual man) that is the primary source of laughter. The success of The Office’s comedy depends on the mainstreaming of colorblind ideology on entertainment TV.

Hipster Racism

Post-racial-era TV comedy is characterized by the absence of the laugh track and the colorblind approach to ethnic and racial difference that provide the setup for the comedy of hipster racism, a colorblind form of comedy that depends on racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual differences. Hipster racism reinforces the colorblind values even as the characters’ differences are increasingly central to the production of laughter. The colorblind values of contemporary comedies together with the use of hipster racism make it possible for audiences to hold contradictory readings of television scripts, interpretations that release audiences of white guilt or social discomfort yet create a contested space of visibility and subversive pleasure for audiences of color (Doane 2014).

Returning to “Diversity Day” as an example, the ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual humor in The Office almost exclusively revolves around Michael’s socially inappropriate behavior and beliefs and the ensemble’s improvised responses or lack of responses to Michael’s prejudicial assumptions about race, gender, and sexuality. The focus on Michael’s individual ethnic, racial, and sexual transgressions is one of the main adaptations the U.S. writers of The Office made to the original British comedy. Throughout the series, the writers position Carell’s character in opposition to his unwilling antagonist,  the socially conscious human resource officer Toby Flenderson (Paul Lieberstein, a writer on the show). In the series, Lieberstein’s subdued and apathetic Toby is routinely called in to legally intercede with regard to the racist, sexist, and/or homophobic behavior of Carell’s emotionally exaggerated Michael. In the series narrative, the hostile work climate created by Carell’s character is never depicted as the institutional result of white patriarchal culture and heteronormative privilege, but rather as another joke to illustrate the individual flaws of Michael Scott, the self-centered boss.

The comedic writing that surrounded Carell’s character points to a key characteristic of the post-racial TV era: the normalizing of hipster racism. A central component of the normalization of hipster racism is the development of sympathetic yet socially flawed white lead characters. Using racism as a form of comedy is not a new convention. As Angela Kinsey, who played Angela on the show, recognized of “Diversity Day”: “Whenever I read our scripts, there were so many that we did that were part of the cringe humor. I think Archie Bunker did that on All in the Family, which is a super old call-back because I’m an old lady [laughs]. But one of your lead characters is inappropriate, you get to call them out on their crap. Say, ‘No, that’s wrong, dude!’” (Burns and Schildhause 2015b). Evoking All in the Family as a referent is interesting because communication research on the program documented the way audiences read the show as both a critique of racism and as an affirmation of racist views (Wilson, Gutiérrez, and Chao 2013). The primary difference is that while the laugh track on All in the Family (1971–79) directly cued audiences to when it was socially acceptable to laugh, post-racial era comedies do not provide any explicit cues. In The Office there are no such explicit cues, and Michael’s character is rarely explicitly called out for his assumptions. Indeed, most of the time his transgressions are met with silence and stares of disbelief by the characters.

Instead, the use of racism, sexism, and homophobia as humor in post-racial era comedies depends on a more ambiguous set of codes to signal socially appropriate laughter. For example, the humor around the famously improvised kiss between Carell and Nuñez is dependent on the actors’ physical performance, audiences’ familiarity with the narrative and character history of the show, prior knowledge of the relationship between the characters, and their own experiences and ability to relate to the characters in the scene (see figure 2). In the season 3 episode “Gay Witch Hunt,” Michael is unaware of Oscar’s sexual identity until Toby disciplines him for using the word “faggy.” The next scene cuts to Michael’s confessional interview: “I would have never called him that if I knew. You know. You don’t call retarded people retards. It’s bad taste. You call your friends retards when they are acting retarded. And I consider Oscar a friend.” The creative decision to depict the show’s lead character as equating gay people to people who are developmentally delayed is an example of the normalization of hipster racism.

Carell’s emotionally sincere delivery of the potentially offensive monologue effectively produces sympathy for Michael. Where some audience members might cringe at the comedic use of the socially charged term “faggy,” others might welcome the term as a critique of progressive demands for “political correctness.” Published interviews with the show’s creators, writers, and actors make clear their awareness of the social boundaries around diversity and inclusion. For audiences familiar with gray-and white-collar workplace policies regarding sexual harassment and discrimination, Carell’s performance pokes satiric fun of the institutional privileging of multiculturalism. At the same time, the effectiveness of hipster racism depends on a shared agreement that the white lead character’s flaws are socially innocent and not institutionally and intentionally systemic. Doing so reaffirms television comedy’s commonsense logic of colorblindness as it reduces racism, sexism, and homophobia to individual pathology rather than the effect of systemic and structural inequalities.

Hipster racism in a workplace comedy provides the producers increased agency to portray socially unacceptable and legally actionable behaviors and language, and it is that cultural transgression that produces the humor. The production of hipster racism depends on scripting potentially controversial or politically risky moments of humor, such as having Michael apologize to Oscar for calling him “faggy” in front of his fellow office workers, thereby outing the socially conservative Oscar. The editing and nonverbal performances of the ensemble cast reinforce the transgressions. First, the camera cuts from Carell to observe the religious and socially conservative Angela sanitizing her hands as she glares at Oscar. Then the camera pans to Oscar’s silent response of disgust and disbelief. In published interviews on the improvisational nature of The Office, Nuñez points to the above scene as an effective example of the ensemble’s collaborations around socially inappropriate comedy. For the socially conscious humor embedded in the nonverbal interactions between the actors in this scene to work, it depends on some audiences’ familiarity with homophobic stereotypes of gay men as diseased and homosexuality as physically infectious. In this reception context, Angela’s display of prejudiced ignorance is the butt of the joke. But it is the silence that also produces hipster racism, or in this instance hipster homophobia. The writers’ decision to make the interaction nonverbal enhances the comic ambiguity necessary to produce hipster racism or in this case hipster homophobia. In the episode’s concluding interview, Oscar reveals that he was more amused than offended by Michael’s public apology and that he filed a grievance against Michael for which he was compensated with paid leave. The scripting of the episode and the way that Nuñez’s character ultimately benefits from being the target of homophobia further justifies post-racial values by shifting the social burden of prejudice and discrimination to the individual and highlighting the ways the system benefits and protects minorities.

Colorblind comedy produces a marketable interpretative ambiguity through contradictions in the show’s writing and character development. Indeed, part of NBC’s investment in The Office was the program’s ability to bring in a young, highly educated audience, similar in profile to the Scrubs audience but consistently larger. Such an audience might not care about or be concerned with contemporary social norms and mores, but these audiences are at least aware of socially appropriate behavior and contemporary identity politics. It must also be recognized that audiences of post-racial era comedies are not likely to identify as white supremacists, because white supremacist audiences do not generally watch mainstream television programming (King 2014). Rather, audiences of post-racial era comedies are the type that understand hipster humor is socially inappropriate and see themselves as socially conscious, even though they may also be equally uncomfortable with changes in sexual culture, ethnic and racial demographics, and the ever-shifting terrain of identity politics in the United States. Much the way All in the Family did for its audience, post-racial era comedies allow white audiences to laugh at or even sympathize with racist, sexist, or homophobic language and behavior as these are normalized as the result of individuals’ inability to adjust to the “new” mores of a more socially conscious culture.

Isabel Molina-Guzmán is an associate professor of media and cinema studies and Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Latinas and Latinos on TV: Colorblind Comedy in the Post-racial Network Era was published this spring through our Latinx Pop Culture Series.

June 7, 2018

We are excited to share the news that four University of Arizona Press titles are finalists for the Twentieth Annual International Latino Book Awards:

Bodies at War: Genealogies of Militarism in Chicana Literature and Culture by Belinda Linn Rincón (Best Women’s Issues Book)

Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics by Frederick Luis Aldama (Best Latino-Focused Nonfiction Book)

U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memories, Struggles, and Communities of Resistance, edited by Karina O. Alvarado, Alicia Ivonne Estrada, and Ester E. Hernández (Best Nonfiction, Multi-Author)

Word Images: New Perspectives on Canícula and Other Works by Norma Elia Cantú, edited by Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs (Best Nonfiction, Multi-Author)

The International Latino Book Awards are produced by Latino Literacy Now, a nonprofit organization co-founded in 1997 by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler. A full list of finalists is available here. Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony on September 8, 2018, in Los Angeles.

Congratulations to all of the finalists!

Publishers Weekly spotlights Farid Matuk’s The Real Horse

June 5, 2018

This week brings with it a thoughtful review of Farid Matuk’s sophomore full-length poetry collection, The Real Horse from Publishers Weekly:

Matuk (This Isa Nice Neighborhood) addresses his daughter in his second collection, a lyrical interrogation of Western notions of gender, race, and manifest destiny, as well as the dubious authority of parenthood in a turbulent political landscape where “the sky behaves itself/ with just enough war over us.”… Matuk conveys how Western ideology informs the father’s concern for how a daughter will “bear power’s projections,” and tender paternal observations provide humorous respite from moments of violence: “like if parenting is a thing are you childing us who gave you a face.” Matuk presents parental awareness as a sensory informational superhighway, “a picking at the earth’s curved surface and all laid on it.” Read the full review.



Native American and Indigenous Studies Association 2018 Meeting Recap

May 24, 2018

Last weekend we attended the tenth annual meeting of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA), the largest scholarly organization devoted to Indigenous issues, communities, and research. Indigenous studies is a key area for the University of Arizona Press, and we’ve been attending this meeting since its inception. It’s exciting to see how attendance has grown, and we appreciate the opportunity to meet scholars from around the world and learn more about important issues in Indigenous studies.

This year’s meeting in downtown Los Angeles had a fantastic turnout and a roster of fascinating panels. As always, we were delighted to see UAP authors and other friends of the Press. Thanks to all who stopped by and to the organizers for a great conference!

Red Medicine author Patrisia Gonzales and UAP Editor-in-Chief Kristen Buckles

Natasha Varner and The Learned Ones author Kelly S. McDonough

Yaqui Indigeneity author Ariel Zatarain Tumbaga


Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, editor of the poetry anthology “Sing

Talking Indian author Jenny L. Davis

Lloyd L. Lee, editor of “Navajo Sovereignty and “Diné Perspectives

Marking Indigeneity author Tevita O. Ka‘ili

Crime and Social Justice in Indian Country Spotlighted by Publishers Weekly

May 17, 2018

Addressing legal issues, human rights issues, and tribal sovereignty as they relate to Indigenous criminal and social justice, Northern Arizona University’s Marianne O. Nielsen and Karen Jarratt-Snider argue that the American criminal and social justice system neglects American Indians, who have a unique political and legal status given that their justice issues “are rooted in colonialism.” Their edited volume, Crime and Social Justice in Indian Country analyzes issues such as Indigenous identity, the Indian Child Welfare Act, stalking, American Indian collegiate athletes, sterilization, violence, gambling and crime, and juvenile justice. Recently, Publishers Weekly spotlighted the volume’s “passion and purpose”:

The essays from the eight Native American contributors to this anthology of works about the challenges facing those living in “Indian Country” consider a broad range of topics, including the criminal justice system’s treatment of Native Americans, misperceptions among non-Natives that a connection exists between Native gaming and crime, and the systemic sterilization of Native American women as late as the 1960s and ’70s. Several examine the consequences of the legal stipulation that Native Americans who are not enrolled in tribes or whose tribes are not recognized by the federal government do not have the same rights and protections as those enrolled in federally recognized tribes, which include the denial of sovereignty over tribal matters. Still others examine ways forward for Native American communities faced with difficult cultural issues; for example, successful strategies for countering violence against women and ensuring placement of orphaned Native children with other members of the same tribe. Read the full review.

Adventures in Open Access

May 22, 2018
By Kathryn Conrad

Innovation is one of our core values at the University of Arizona Press. This means tackling some of the toughest problems in scholarly publishing, be it alone, with our colleagues at the University of Arizona Libraries, or with colleagues around the world.

Kathryn Conrad, UA Press Director

No problem is tougher than finding business models that maintain the high standards of monograph publishing that are the hallmark of university presses while increasing access to content. The average cost of publishing a high-quality digital-only monograph ranges from $28,747 to $39,892, depending on what is included in the calculation, according to research published in The Costs of Publishing Monographs. How can we cover these costs while reducing or even eliminating costs for readers?

The University of Arizona Press is committed to improving access. We seek external funding for every book we publish to keep prices as reasonable as we can, and up to two thirds of the books we publish each year receive some form of external support. Meanwhile, with the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation we are building a platform for open monograph publishing at the University of Arizona. Under the Open Arizona project, we will make some two dozen currently out-of-print Latinx and Indigenous studies titles available as free ebooks as part of the larger Humanities Open Book Program, jointly sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project will not only allow us to make previously inaccessible content available for free, it allows us to experiment with and refine new workflows for open-access publishing.

We are also proud to be participating in the fifth pledging round of Knowledge Unlatched (KU). Knowledge Unlatched is a global crowdfunding initiative supported by more than 500 libraries. Its aim is to make Open Access for books and journals sustainable in all disciplines of science and research. It helps libraries to shift their budgets from traditional acquisition patterns to supporting OA on a larger scale. Six press titles have been chosen for KU Select 2018.

“KU only works because publishers like the University of Arizona Press submit excellent content that appeals to researchers and librarians worldwide,” says Dr. Sven Fund, KU’s managing director. “We are glad to see strong usage of the open content funded in prior rounds, and we are glad to see a lot of sympathy and support for our work worldwide.”

Libraries can pledge their support for Knowledge Unlatched and the University of Arizona Press’s titles between now and the end of November 2018 at the KU Select site. Look for more information about Open Arizona this fall. Together, these are just some of the innovations we’re making to continue to connect scholarship and creative expression to readers worldwide.


Discovering Pluto Featured in Wall Street Journal

May 14, 2018

As part of the weekend’s Wall Street Journal Bookshelf News, renowned science journalist and book reviewer Marcia Bartusiak highlighted two of the season’s important new books on the New Horizons project, the first mission to the Pluto System and the Kuiper Belt, including William Sheehan and Dale Cruikshank’s UA Press title Discovering Pluto:

While “Chasing New Horizons” is largely focused on the origin and development of the mission itself, “Discovering Pluto,” by Dale P. Cruikshank and William Sheehan, offers the backstory of the explorations of our solar system’s most remote regions. I came to think of the books as a flight of wins: “Chasing New Horizon’s” is the starter, nimble and refreshing, with “Discovering Pluto” offering deeper tones, scientific details that can be savored more slowly. Read the full review.

All They Will Call You is 2018–2019 Book in Common

May 10, 2018

We are thrilled to share the news that Tim Z. Hernandez’s documentary novel All They Will Call You has been selected as the California State University, Chico and Butte College Book in Common for the 2018–2019 academic year.

The Book in Common is “a shared community read, designed to promote discussion and understanding of important issues facing the broader community. It is chosen each year by a group of CSU, Chico and Butte College faculty and staff and members of the local community. As in past years, CSU, Chico, Butte College, the City of Chico, and Butte County will sponsor panel discussions, lectures, and other public events to celebrate and promote the Book in Common.”

In the announcement, California State University, Chico President Gayle Hutchinson said, “We are committed to the Book in Common and to using a shared reading experience not only to educate ourselves on important subjects, but also to bring us together as a community to engage in conversations about issues of our time. Tim Hernandez’s compelling book serves these purposes beautifully, exploring the subjects of immigration, identity, and disenfranchisement through the exploration of 1948 tragedy.” Butte College President Samia Yaqub said the book’s “themes of immigration and labor . . . still resonate deeply in California,” adding, “This is a book that speaks to our time and place.”

We at the Press are tremendously honored by this recognition. Congratulations, Tim!

Q & A with Ariel Zatarain Tumbaga

May 8, 2018

Born in Sonora, Mexico, Ariel Zatarain Tumbaga is a scholar of Mexican and Chicana/o Indigenous literature and culture. He has a PhD in Hispanic Languages and Literatures from the University of California Los Angeles. His book Yaqui Indigeneity: Epistemology, Diaspora, and the Construction of Yoeme Identity , published in March, is the first book-length study of the representation of the Yaqui nation in literature. Last month Ariel sat down with Ed Battistella and the blog Literary Ashland for a Q & A about his work:

Ed Battistella: Congratulations on your book. Can you tell our readers a bit about it? What fascinates you about Yoeme Identity and the trope of the Yaqui warrior?

Ariel Zatarain Tumbaga: Thank you Ed. Yaqui Indigeneity: Epistemology, Diaspora, and the Construction of Yoeme Identity is a study of the representation of the Yoeme (or Yaqui) indigenous nation in Mexican and Chicana/o (Mexican American) literatures. In it, I study Native depictions with an emphasis on Yaqui history and culture. Until now, there has not been a book length study on this community’s representation in literature, despite their historical and political importance in Mexico, and their presence in the United States. Yaqui Indigeneity is also unique in that it looks to Yoeme history, cosmology, and traditional ceremonies (oral tradition known as etehoi and dance) as a basis for its literary analysis. Finally, it identifies a group of authors that I call Chicana/o-Yaqui writers, who are the sons and daughters of the Yoeme diaspora, often a direct result of… see the complete Q & A.

One Last Time: Signing Off As the UA Press Marketing Intern

May 2, 2018

You’ve probably not seen me, but chances are pretty great that you’ve come across some of my work this spring. My name is Nathaniel Barry, and I’m writing this as one of my final duties for the Marketing internship at the University of Arizona Press. As an English major, I plan to go into the field of Advertising and Public Relations, creating copy for professional ballet and theatre companies across the United States.

I remember, once, not getting hired for a certain marketing internship because my knowledge of literature was, quoted directly, “very Eurocentric.” While I understood what that statement literally meant, I had a hard time figuring out the communicative implications of it. Can I be blamed for my exposure—or lack thereof—to minority authors? After all, I’ve been reading exactly what my teachers have assigned, so what’s the fault?

The fault, indeed, was in my choice, conscious or not, to avoid expanding my horizons. The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) estimates that just over 800,000 books are published across the world each year; I’m lucky if I read maybe fifteen of them. I made the decision this semester to change that fault, and start my marketing career with a publishing house that was already in the mindset I wanted to embrace.

The University of Arizona Press works diligently to vocalize underrepresented authors from all backgrounds. They are the premier publisher for scholarly work from the fields of anthropology, archaeology, environmental science, history, Indigenous studies, Latinx studies, Latin American studies, and space studies in the state of Arizona. In just one semester, I’ve worked with around thirty authors, each differing in needs surrounding their upcoming titles. I’ve arranged press opportunities, reviewed course adoptions, solicited book reviews, and have been secretly updating the UA Press Instagram page!

More than anything, I’ve been cultivating experiences with authors. I’ve been listening to their stories, reading their books (or at least snippets), and figuring out what works best for them as writers. I could say that’s just the “customer service” in me, but everyone at the Press carries this attitude. I’ve always viewed marketing in a certain sort of way: marketing isn’t about selling the consumer something, it’s about developing a relationship that makes the consumer want to buy. It’s kind of like when your best friend buys you a coffee.

Or when your grandmother cooks you dinner even though you ate an hour ago.

The Press is like a family—that’s more what I’m trying to get at. During my internship, I’ve felt needed, useful, and like I’ve made a difference in the lives of those recently-published authors, whether it was their first book or their twelfth. What I’ve truly loved most about working with the Press is the experience it’s provided me and the people that I’ve met along the way.

And when I reflect on this past spring with the University of Arizona Press, that’s what stands out the most: listening to the experiences of these underrepresented authors, and sharing in the culture they’ve spent their entire lives cultivating.


One last time,

Nathaniel Barry


Thinking about a career in publishing? University of Arizona Press interns are exposed to the many facets of book publishing, including insight into how manuscript projects are submitted, reviewed, and selected for publication; the process of editing, designing, and producing a book; and the various aspects involved with marketing and advertising new titles. Visit our internship program page for more information on opportunities to get involved.


Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez Receives Inaugural Saber es Poder-IME Academic Excellence Award

April 30, 2018

Last week the University of Arizona’s Department of Mexican American Studies (MAS) celebrated their inaugural presentation of the Saber es Poder-IME Academic Excellence Award in Mexican American Studies.  The new award recognizes the world’s leading scholars who have dedicated their careers to advancing the interdisciplinary field of Mexican American Studies.

This year’s recipient, Dr. Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez, is the author of four books published by the University of Arizona Press. In his introduction to the award, UA College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Dean John Paul (JP) Jones III said, “Dr. Carlos Vélez-Ibáñez [is] a legend in the field of Mexican American Studies, which he helped to establish. He has had a remarkable career distinguished by both a passion to break orthodox academic boundaries and to produce scholarship that enhances the lives of the less privileged.”

More than 150 scholars and community members came together for the lively event. Congratulations to Carlos on this much-deserved recognition!

Tom Sheridan, Alva Torres, and Lydia Otero.


Raquel Rubio-Goldsmith and Curtis Acosta.



Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez receives his award.




Weegee Whiteford and Scott Whiteford.


UAP titles on display.



Society for American Archaeology 2018 Meeting Recap

April 18, 2018

The Society for American Archaeology’s eighty-third annual meeting brought more than 5,000 archaeologists from across the Americas and around the globe to Washington, D.C. In keeping with the location, several panels delved into critical topics around legislation and its effects on archaeologists. Panels on Bears Ears, the Antiquities Act, colonialism, heritage programs, collaborative archaeology, and much more infused the meeting with energy and conversation.

Several authors stopped by our booth to say hello and showcase their work to their colleagues. The meeting was fantastic, and we can’t wait to see everyone in Albuquerque for SAA 2019!

T.J. Ferguson, co-editor of Footprints of Hopi History.


UA Press Senior Editor Allyson Carter and Deb Nichols, co-editor of Rethinking the Aztec Economy.


Matt Peeples with his new book, Connected Communities.


Kathy Arthur with her new book, The Lives of Stone Tools.


Clay Mathers, co-editor of Native and Spanish New Worlds.


Allyson Carter and Pat Gilman, co-author of Mimbres Life and Society.


John Douglass, co-editor of the forthcoming Forging Communities in Colonial Alta California, with Allyson Carter.


Emma Britton with Steve LeBlanc, co-author of Mimbres Life and Society.


Scott Ingram, co-editor of Traditional Arid Lands Agriculture, and Allyson Carter.


Michael Waters, author of Principles of Geoarchaeology.


Chip Colwell, co-editor of Footprints of Hopi History.


Paul Minnis, co-editor of Discovering Paquimé, and Lisa LeCount, co-editor of Classic Maya Provincial Politics.


Michael Searcy with his book The Life-Giving Stone.


Lee Panich, co-editor of Indigenous Landscapes and Spanish Missions.

2017 James Fisher Prize News

April 9, 2018

We are pleased to announce that Georgina Drew’s River Dialogues: Hindu Faith and the Political Ecology of Dams on the Sacred Ganga received an honorable mention in the inaugural 2017 James Fisher Prize for First Books on the Himalayan Region, conferred by the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (ANHS).

The Fisher Prize Fisher Prize honors books that contribute an innovative and lucid written account of Himalayan studies research. In the words of the prize committee, “River Dialogues uses ethnographic methods of journalistic realism to explore the ongoing debate over the Ganga river’s natural and constructed future. A remarkable book, River Dialogues examines how women in particular protest the building of hydroelectric dams on the sacred river and the private industries and government efforts to build them in Uttarakhand, an officially designated conservation zone.”

ANHS is the oldest academic organization devoted to the study of the Himalaya in the United States. Congratulations to all of the honorees!

A Way Forward in the Mojave Desert

March 30, 2018

Lawrence R. Walker and Frederick H. Landau are plant ecologists who have 65 years between them living in the Mojave Desert. Together, they co-wrote A Natural History of the Mojave Desert. Today, they share what they see as the future for the desert they love, and why they embarked on writing the book.

Protected areas are marked with lines on a map. However, many disruptions, whether natural or anthropogenic in origin, are unaffected by boundaries. The construction of roads or solar power plants might be stopped by a fence, but the spread of droughts, fires, or climate change is not. Invasive plant and animal species could, theoretically, be controlled at boundaries, but in practice the invasion front is usually too diffuse to monitor closely. In addition, species ranges are now shifting with climate change, further complicating designations on a map. Therefore, natural resource protection must be addressed at regional and broader spatial scales. Further, such protection is most successful when it represents an integrated response from multiple groups. Government and nongovernment agencies, scientists, managers, residents, and visitors all have a vital role in the creation of a best-case scenario for the future of the Mojave Desert. Government leads public discussions and then sets policy; nongovernment groups act as watchdogs for the development and implementation of policy; scientists ask questions, conduct research, and supply knowledge to guide policy choices; managers integrate many demands into practical approaches; residents lobby for permanent, balanced compromises between resource use and abuse; and visitors support wise management choices when they pay to visit natural areas. Finally, educators inform about process, decisions, and policy and lead the promulgation of values to the next generation.

Desert wash. Photo by Frederick Landau.

The future of the natural resources of the Mojave Desert is hard to predict. Certainly, challenges lie ahead as the region likely becomes hotter and drier but possibly sees more frequent summer rains. Depending on their intensity and duration, these monsoonal rains might lead to increased erosion. Organisms that can move rapidly enough will move, north or to higher elevations, for example. Focused mostly on our own needs, humans will also adapt to the future. We have technological tools that will help us improve water extraction and conservation. We have social tools that will help us reconfigure our societies around a hotter, drier climate. But what we hope will also be utilized are the ecological tools that natural systems provide. Our human creations are often based on natural models: dam construction and consequences from beavers; flight mechanics and efficiencies from birds; cooling techniques from colonial insects and leaf anatomy. It is our hope that we can also take the lessons of our senses, our aesthetic appreciation of the Mojave Desert to help mold a livable, inspiring future for ourselves. Finally, we hope that the future that we help shape keeps as many as possible of the myriad desert organisms and their ecosystems intact.

In A Natural History of the Mojave Desert we attempted to convey our enthusiasm about the natural history of the Mojave Desert. We hope that we succeeded. We used the writing process as an excuse to reexamine our relationship with our environs, visiting old haunts and discovering many new ones. What follows are some final musings, including our hope that you begin or continue your own personal exploration of this remarkable Desert.

Death Valley dunes near Stovepipe Wells. Photo by Cindy Phillips.

We traveled the edges of the desert, trying to sort out where to draw a boundary line. We asked people at those amorphous edges: “Do you live in the Mojave Desert?” We got lots of interesting answers, reinforcing our original belief that such edges are mostly artificial human constructs. But just like so much in ecology and natural history, what cannot be easily delineated or defined still has a distinct reality. That reality is shaped by geology, geography, climate, and organisms, including humans. On big spatial scales, the collisions of crustal plates shaped our mountains in long, linear, north-south rows. Wetter climates in the past filled the basins between the mountain ranges with vast lakes interconnected by rivers. All of those lakes eventually dried up and are now salt flats. Three of the rivers that are fed from wetter uplands outside the Mojave Desert still flow. The largest, the mighty Colorado River, has been damned to create three new lakes or reservoirs that impact aquatic and terrestrial organisms and many human activities in the region. The Mojave River is dammed near its source and rarely reaches its onetime outlet, Soda Lake. The Amargosa River, as intermittent as it is, still supports a national hotspot of biodiversity, Ash Meadows.

These deserts are vast open spaces, mostly unobstructed by buildings or even trees. At night, the stars are pinpricks of silver light, pulling us to muse on what lies beyond. By day, we are presented with the gentle pastels of the surrounding environments: the coral-colored hills, the dark, tear-stained streaks of desert varnish, the red sands of eroded Aztec sandstone, and the striking black of rugged basalt. The Mojave Desert is a spare place. The land will not support the people, animals, and plants that other lands can. But it is a place where one can breathe deeply, and be unhurried and inquisitive. As Joseph Wood Krutch has written, deserts are a place where one kind of scarcity is compatible with, and maybe necessary for, another kind of plenty.

Our book mentions many of our observations and joys while exploring the Mojave Desert and we will continue our adventures into the future. But now we urge you to step away from your computer and explore. Take a water bottle and your own curiosity and, whether it is your first or one hundredth time on this terrain, parts of the Mojave Desert will open up to you as if for the first time. We hope that you go out and experience the peaceful satisfaction that comes from a walk in the desert.

Author photo by Elizabeth Powell.

Lawrence R. Walker is a professor of plant ecology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is the (co)author or (co)editor of nine previous books, including The Biology of Disturbed Habitats. Frederick H. Landau is a research associate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Walker and Landau have twenty-five years of scientific collaboration that includes projects in Nevada, New Zealand, and Puerto Rico. They both enjoy hiking and back-road adventures throughout the Mojave Desert.


Cover photo courtesy Cindy Phillips

Five Questions with Poet Jennifer Elise Foerster

March 28, 2018

In her dazzling new collection Bright Raft in the Afterweather, Jennifer Elise Foerster confronts humanity’s dangerous ecological imbalance, immersing readers in a narrative of disorientation and reintegration. She recently answered five questions from her editor Scott De Herrera about her work:

Photo Courtesy Richard Blue Cloud Castaneda

A number of recurring figures from your previous work continue to inhabit the poems throughout this collection. How do their journeys compare to yours as a writer? 

I appreciate that you ask about the journeys of these figures, as to me they are quite their own figures. Sometimes their journeys are a silhouette of mine; other times they diverge into places I can’t see. Magdalena appeared under many guises in the first book – the woman in the blue dress by the gas station, a reflection of myself in the mirror, birds . . . I’m not sure where she is now, still hovering in mirages, I think. She is what is almost visible. Hoktvlwv was present in the first book, but I didn’t meet her until I reached the coastline, when I moved to San Francisco from New Mexico in 2005. The second book developed from that edge of the continent, even though I wrote it while living in Colorado over the past three years. The poems and figures usually form themselves after I have encountered them—they are like the afterweather, I suppose, of a journey.

You employ a vocabulary and diction that reveals an intimate knowledge of science and the environment. In what ways did this inform your use of imagery as you rendered the worlds occupied by each character?

I wish I had a clearer knowledge of science and the environment—this is one of my goals, in fact. I’d like to take some classes in geology, astronomy, physics, and ecology. I feel my sense about the environment is only intuitive, and there is so much to learn. The imagery of these poems arrived out of my sense of the environment. If I were a painter, I would paint natural landscapes, atmospheres . . . I’m just not as compelled by the visible world of human-made things, including how we appear as people. I think this translates into why I write what I write. The characters of the poems are suffused by their ecologies and energy systems, including those systems we can’t see.

One of the issues you confront is that of ecological imbalance and the health of the planet. How can poetry contribute to the broader discussion surrounding climate change and humanity’s impact on the Earth?

This is something I think about all the time. I am haunted by the worry that poetry is not, right now, effective enough. This may be a version of my own sense of inadequacy in effecting broader healing. But I do deeply believe that poetry has the potential to transform us if we embrace it in our society as a way of seeing and comprehending. The poem can innovate language to expand the possibility of comprehension, to reorganize the perception of the known and imaginary. Poetry it is, I believe, the only word-based language that can transform us in this way, that can reveal the invisible landscapes, histories, and stories that we’ve forgotten, that we need to remember in order to continue. When I say “transform” I’m talking about healing, which naturally involves ecological balance. Despite my worries, I am still writing poetry, and will continue to, because I believe in its possibility. Poetry is especially needed in this country, which has written over and attempted the erasures of the continent’s long-standing dynamic cultures, peoples, and ecosystems. We must insist on poetry as part of our conversations and educational systems. I don’t know the most effective way to do it, but this is the work I’m committed to.

Can you tell us the story behind the visual “word hurricanes” at the opening of each section?

These four visual pieces (I like that you call them “word hurricanes!”) are from a book I made called “Of.” About two years ago I reviewed all of my unpublished poems (many of which became poems in this book), and realized I had a concerning habit. I counted hundreds of “of” constructions through the poems! To break this habit, I thought I’d exhaust it, so I made up a method of reorganizing all of these constructions, and used Excel, a printer/scanner, and scissors to make a book of these “hurricanes.” I have only an original version of this book – since I made each page manually there isn’t any digital evidence of its process. Preserving a few of these pieces in Bright Raft felt like a way to acknowledge the book’s swirling origins. Also, the pieces feel like weather—the way words transmute in our processing of patterns.

What topics or trends in literature excite you the most as a poet?

I’m excited about cross-genre work coming out, especially the poem-essay.

Jennifer Elise Foerster is an alumna of the Institute of American Indian Arts, received her MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a PhD candidate in English and Creative Writing at the University of Denver. Foerster is the recipient of a 2017 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship, and was a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. A member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma, Foerster is the author of one previous book of poems, Leaving Tulsa.

Community of Latinx Writers Key Highlight of AWP 2018

March 19, 2018

AWP, or the Association of Writers & Writing Programs if you’re not into the whole brevity thing, is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to foster literary achievement and advance the art of writing as an essential component of education and stewardship. Each year more than 10,000 writers, students, educators, editors, and publishers gather in attendance at AWP’s annual conference to immerse themselves in the larger writing community, networking with fellow authors and industry insiders.

This year’s meeting found us in Tampa. For four days the local convention center, pleasantly situated along the Hillsborough River at the southwest edge of Tampa’s downtown district, was overrun with writers, its labyrinth of walkways, meeting rooms, and common areas monopolized entirely by the conference. Likewise, attendees filled their agendas to capacity, spending each day engaged in a myriad of presentations, panels, focused discussions, and readings.

Jennifer Elise Foerster and colleagues stop by the booth to proudly pose with a poster of her most recent collection.

Beyond the multitude of scheduled events outlined in the conference program, perhaps the biggest attraction at AWP is the bookfair. Held in an astonishingly vast assembly hall large enough to rival your local supercenter, the bookfair is a marketplace comprised of more than 800 exhibitors from literary presses and journals, universities, creative writing programs, and other related organizations. It is here attendees assemble in droves, drifting from one booth to the next until something, or someone, piques their interest. Everyone knows this is the spot. The place to be. It’s where friends and colleagues alike congregate between panels, where you can run into your favorite author, where discounted books can be bought on the cheap (a small mercy to the many students in attendance), and where you just might find the future publisher of your manuscript. In other words, the bookfair provides the optimal setting for The University of Arizona Press to interact with readers and writers through a shared passion for books.

Literary legends Allison Hedge Coke and Joy Harjo.

As an exhibitor at AWP and other similar conferences, our primary aim is, of course, to meet with current and prospective authors, and to showcase a modest suite of relevant new and notable titles. But beyond just the sales and networking opportunities, easily the best thing about attending these meetings is getting to witness from the ground floor all the positive energy and enthusiasm surrounding the books we publish. I think for many of us working in this industry, it’s easy to become so entrenched in the day-to-day workload, always looking forward, moving from one project to the next, that we often forget to take a step back and reflect on everything that brought us here. So being able to see a reader’s excitement as they eagerly browse through the booth, or catch a momentary glimpse of unbridled pride on an author’s face when they show their book off to a friend, or hear firsthand about the extraordinary impact one of our titles has had on someone, is a beautiful reminder to pause every once in a while and appreciate the work we’ve done and its value to the community.

Speaking of communities, though the Press typically flies solo at these meetings, this year we deviated from that tradition by partnering with the Latinx Writers Caucus in a shared booth. This collaboration was the result of several conversations I’d had with writer and poet Ruben Quesada at last year’s meeting. As we discussed our work, trading insights and comparing notes on the various efforts our organizations make to connect with the community, it became abundantly clear how similar our missions really are. The Caucus and Press both strive to shine a spotlight on Latinx writers and provide a platform for their words to be heard. We work with many of the same authors, scholars, educators, and publishing professionals, and we both share a profound respect and admiration for the unprecedented richness and depth of talent within the Latinx community. Put simply, we’re part of the same family. So when presented with the option of working in unity at AWP this year, it seemed only natural that we take advantage of the opportunity.

Vanessa Angelica Villarreal and Urayoán Noel.

To say the endeavor was a success would be an understatement. Not a minute went by, it seemed, our booth wasn’t bursting with writers, poets, and ardent readers. Some of the Press’s many wonderful authors and friends dropped by to catch up or say hello, including Rigoberto González, Allison Hedge Coke, Emmy Pérez, Jennifer Foerster, Urayoán Noel, Sergio Troncoso, and Francisco Aragón, to name a few. Every day was met with a full schedule of book signings organized by members from the Latinx Writers Caucus, featuring a host of remarkable writers such as Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Claudia Castro Luna, Rita Maria Martinez, Ariel Francisco, Vanessa Angélica Villarreal, and Javier Zamora. The excitement concentrated around the booth was contagious; I couldn’t help but watch as it permeated throughout the bookfair, drawing more and more people in all the time.

Another particularly noteworthy detail captured my attention over the course of the meeting, an unmistakable sense of closeness within this community, evidenced in how its members connect with one another, share experiences and exchange ideas, and elevate each other’s work through a collective voice. I think that’s one of the defining features that makes this community special. So many of the authors emerging from what is a relatively small corner of the market continue to have a profound influence on the broader readership, and the need for their works is undeniable. The Press is tremendously proud to be part of this community, and we remain forever grateful for all their encouragement and support. Thank you especially, Alexandra Lytton Regalado, Suzi F. Garcia, and Ruben Quesada, for sharing the love, and for working with us to make AWP 2018 such a great success. I look forward to seeing how far we’ve come the next time our paths cross again.



Scott DeHerrera
Associate Editor, University of Arizona Press

Mark Nelson Shares Personal Experience of Biosphere 2 Experiment at Annual UA Libraries’ Luncheon

March 16, 2018

One of the eight crew members locked in Biosphere 2 during its first closure experiment, UA Press author Mark Nelson had an active visit to Tucson this past weekend. He participated in two panels at the Tucson Festival of Books as well as multiple signings across the University of Arizona campus, and was a crowd favorite following his appearance on the cover of last week’s Tucson Weekly.

One of the many highlights of his trip was presenting his new book Pushing Our Limits as part of the University of Arizona Libraries’ annual luncheon at the Arizona Inn the Monday following the festival. Nelson offered luncheon attendees a rare and compelling insider’s view of the dramatic story behind the mini-world and cleared up a few common misconceptions about the 1991–1993 closure experiment. Today we look back at some of the highlights of that talk:


University of Arizona Libraries Dean Shan Sutton and UA Libraries Annual Luncheon keynote speaker Mark Nelson.

Sutton provides luncheon attendees with an update on the state of the libraries and previews exciting upcoming projects before introducing Mark Nelson.

A display of Mark Nelson’s Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2 provided by our friends at the University of Arizona Bookstores.

From left to right: UA Press Director Kathryn Conrad, Mark Nelson, and UA Press Senior Editor Allyson Carter.

Nelson presents the goals and results of the Biosphere 2 experiment and the project’s implications for today’s global environmental challenges.

To close, Nelson stressed the importance of reconnecting people to a healthy relationship with nature.

Photos courtesy Aengus Anderson

March 14, 2018

An estimated 130,000 book lovers attended this weekend’s 10th annual Tucson Festival of Books. It was a very busy weekend for the Press, with more than twenty of our authors participating in panels, readings, and booth signings. Today we look back at some of the highlights of the two-day event:


A display of just a few of our Nature & Science titles, including the festival favorite and thirteen pound space science photography book Mars: The Pristine Beauty of the Red Planet.

UA Press authors Chip Colwell and T.J. Ferguson kick of our rolling booth signings early Saturday morning with a discussion of their most recent edited volume Footprints of Hopi History: Hopihiniwtiput Kukveni’at.

Representing Camino del Sol at the festival, authors Daniel Olivas, Frederick Aldama, and Vickie Vértiz take a moment to pose for photographers on the Pima County Libraries Nuestra Raices stage.

Latino literature’s most prominent new wave authors, Daniel Olivas and Vickie Vertiz discuss writing borderland poetry.

With an estimated 130,000 festival attendees, there was a constant flow of book lovers perusing UA Press titles in our booth off of the UA’s main mall.

Two prolific Latino literary greats, Frederick Aldama and Luis Alberto Urrea, discuss Latinx representation in popular culture at their booth signing Saturday afternoon.

Luis Alberto Urrea takes a moment to chat with fans before rushing off to his second panel of the day.

Mark Nelson, one of the eight-person crew for the first two-year closure experiment in Biosphere 2, teases UA Press publicity manager Rose Brandt at his booth signing Saturday afternoon.

UA Press author Mark Nelson discusses wastewater recycling and his new book Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2 at his booth signing.

Playwright and performance artist Virginia Grise joins UA Press poet Vickie Vertiz for a dynamic discussion on resistance and survival, both on the personal, day-to-day, level and in a broader sense as individuals situated within systems and cultures of oppression.

Our dedicated roving photographers, UA Press interns Nate Berry and Ally Purcell, take a break in the Press booth Saturday afternoon.

The Press’s Sara Sue Hoklotubbe discusses writing a strong sense of place in her Sadie Walela Mystery series with authors Cara Black and Katayoun Medhat.

Vickie Vertiz’s reads from her new collection Palm Frond with its Throat Cut.

After returning to Tucson following this year’s AWP conference in Florida, poet Farid Matuk took the time to sign copies of his latest collection The Real Horse at the UA Press booth.

Cuba’s leading export to Tucson has been Tom Miller, the longtime Cubanista whose latest book from UA Press is Cuba, Hot and Cold. Tom reads from his work at a panel honoring his prolific career.

Despite the threat of rain, festival goers stop to browse UA Press titles late Saturday afternoon.

UA Press authors Daniel Olivas and Sara Sue Hoklotubbe joke with fans at their booth signing Sunday afternoon.

The Tents are Up and the Countdown Begins!

March 1, 2018

The tents are up and we’re eagerly putting the final touches together for what is sure to be a Tucson Festival of Books for the record books. In the last decade, the Tucson Festival of Books has become one of the city’s most anticipated events. With over 400 authors and an estimated 130,000 attendees, the Festival symbolizes the importance of togetherness and community, facilitated through books and the shared love of reading.

The University of Arizona Press is proud to have been a part of the Festival since its inception in 2009 and we look forward to continuing to bring diverse voices in literature to the Old Pueblo. We are thrilled to have more than twenty authors participating in this year’s Festival.

Taking the stage with our friends at Nuetra Raíces will be Frederick Luis Aldama, who will discuss Latinx Superheroes; award-winning Daniel Olivas will discuss craft and his latest short story collection The King of Lighting Fixtures; and Vickie Vértiz is slated to give a reading of her latest poems from Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut.  Sara Sue Hoklotubbe returns to the Festival again to celebrate her new Sadie Walela mystery, Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch. We’ll have a number of authors with local connections, too, including Mark Nelson, Tom Miller, Oscar J. Martínez, and Farid Matuk. Many will be presenting at panels and signing books.

Be sure to visit us in booth #242 for special discounts and author signings!

Author Signing Schedule

Saturday, March 10

Chip Colwell & T.J. Ferguson at 11:00-11:30am

Luis Alberto Urrea & Frederick Luis Aldama at 12:00 -12:30pm

Mark Nelson at 12:30-1:00pm

Oscar J. Martinez at 1:00-1:30pm

Flannery Burke & Robert Houston at 1:30-2:00pm


Sunday, March 11

Alfred McEwen, Ari Espinoza, & Candice Hansen-Koharcheck at 10:00-10:30am

Vickie Vértiz at 10:30-11:00am

Sara Sue Hoklotubbe  & Daniel A. Olivas at 12:00 -12:30pm

Theodore H. Fleming & Kim Kanoa Duffek at 1:00-1:30pm

Farid Matuk at 1:30-2:00pm               

Revealing the Very Real Human Impact of Deportation Policies

February 21, 2018

Mass deportation is currently at the forefront of political discourse in the United States. Edited by Jeremy Slack, Daniel E. Martínez, and Scott Whiteford with photographs by Murphy Woodhouse, The Shadow of the Wall underscores the unintended social consequences of increased border enforcement, immigrant criminalization, and deportation along the U.S.-Mexico border. Today we feature an excerpt from the book’s introduction, in which the editors explain their work to reveal the real impact that mass removal to Mexico has on people’s lives:

Requests for $30 billion in additional border and immigration enforcement spending under the Hoeven-Corker amendment to Senate Bill 744 of 2013, Donald Trump’s absurd call for a “wall” along the nearly two-thousand-mile southwestern border, and an additional fifteen thousand immigration agents are mainstays of today’s political debates. However, because the United States already spends more than $18 billion per year on border and immigration enforcement (Associated Press 2013), it is important to examine more closely what this spending entails. Calls for more enforcement are rarely, if ever, followed by a critical understanding of what is actually being spent and what it is doing to the border. Because of this, a more progressive response—one that asserts the border is already secure—is almost as problematic in that it gives carte blanche to continue the activities currently occurring in the name of border enforcement as if they are successful. The very policies and practices taking place along the border have produced unheard-of levels of violence, higher death rates, and a mass incarceration machine that has been criminalizing migrants and locking up asylum seekers in for-profit prisons that lobby for increased enforcement and harsher penalties.

The implementation of the Consequence Delivery System (CDS) in 2011, a program designed to guide agents into delivering punishment based on the level of offenses committed by migrants, is an appropriate lens through which to view contemporary border and immigration enforcement. The CDS generates escalating punishments for those with more apprehensions in the hopes that they will not return. While it is important to note that the dangers of the physical geography of the border are certainly still an important part of the strategic plan, the CDS is a significant shift in policy. The strategy has changed. The “Gatekeeper Era,” characterized by the “prevention through deterrence” strategy in the 1990s and early 2000s, was predicated on a general deterrence strategy. Instead of relying solely on physical barriers, the extreme temperatures, long walks, and other natural hazards of the desert and river to deter migrants, the U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) now wields the full force of the carceral state against migrants.

Deportees being dropped off at night at the Nogales port of entry. Photo by Murphy Woodhouse

It is hard to assert that the main goal of the CDS is the prevention of would-be migrants in Mexico who may be contemplating a journey. Rather, the focus on an individual punishment, designated by special rubrics given to agents, makes it obvious that the goal is preventing repeat migration. Thus, the CDS is in many ways an actuarial approach to immigration enforcement; it cites the prevention of future “crimes” (i.e., unauthorized migration) as rationale for increasingly severe punishments for a select subpopulation—those with strong social ties and place attachment to the United States who are the most likely to be repeat border crossers. This has significant implications for people who have put down roots in the United States. As interior enforcement has ramped up significantly since the establishment of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2002, a greater number of people have been removed despite having spent years living in the United States and now have few options other than to return to their families in the United States. While some scholars have noted negative migration flows in Mexican sending regions for the first time and have begun to discuss the end of mass labor migration to the United States (Durand 2013), we argue that many deportees do not return to their cities of origin. Rather, many stay near the border and attempt to return to their lives and families in the United States. In many ways, interior immigration enforcement and deportation have themselves become the new drivers of unauthorized Mexican migration to the United States.

Not all deportations are created equally. Disentangling these differences is essential for engaging with current debates in policy and advocacy. We must dispel notions that border enforcement is simply the product of agents patrolling select areas of the border zone. When we discuss the immense costs of enforcement, it includes the various types of immigration checkpoints, mass trial programs such as Operation Streamline, arrangements with local and state law enforcement, incarceration in immigration detention as well as federal prison, and the myriad private agencies tasked with transporting, detaining, and processing migrants.

The complicated processes of apprehension, processing, detention, deportation, and criminalization as well as extensive ties to family in the United States and a deep resolve to return despite the involved costs, hardship, and pain typify the contemporary migrant experience.

Deportees leaving the Juan Bosco shelter in Nogales, Sonora. Photo by Murphy Woodhouse

Through postdeportation surveys, interviews, and ethnographic work along the U.S.-Mexico border, we chronicle the lived experiences of people who have gone through this escalated, punishment-focused immigration enforcement apparatus. We examine the specific components of border enforcement and their effects on people who no longer call Mexico their home, concluding that those with extensive ties to the United States are highly determined to return. We have produced novel data about what it is like to cross the border in the post-Gatekeeper, DHS era of enforcement. The CDS approach is predicated on an increasingly punitive approach to immigration enforcement that has also played a part in fomenting violence in Mexico. The border zones where almost half a million Mexicans are deported each year have experienced tremendous violence. Migrants often interact and witness this violence on another level, as they frequently cross the border side by side with drug traffickers and are often the victims of kidnapping, robbery, or extortion during their journeys and upon return to Mexico. We explore how the relationships between organized crime and the state exacerbate the violence migrants experience on both sides of the border during migration, deportation, and the subsequent trauma of separation from one’s family.

The Shadow of the Wall is an attempt to bring everyone in, to understand the big picture of who is being removed from the United States and what this is causing, not only for the individuals themselves but also for their families in the United States and Mexico.

Jeremy Slack is an assistant professor of geography in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at the University of Texas at El Paso. Daniel E. Martínez is an assistant professor in the School of Sociology at the University of Arizona. Scott Whiteford is the director of the Social and Behavioral Sciences Mexico Initiative and a professor emeritus at the Center for Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona. Murphy Woodhouse is the Pima County reporter and Road Runner columnist for the Arizona Daily Star.

February 15, 2018

In his new collection The Real Horse: Poems, Farid Matuk offers a thought provoking collection about the meanings of self and citizen. He recently answered five questions from his editor Scott De Herrera about his work:

What inspired you to write this work?
There’s no such thing as a good man, or a good American. In this work I at least crystalized that for myself, and tried to situate that as a ground floor from which to reach, in future works, toward goodness as such, a non-moralistic force I very much believe in.

How does your upbringing as an immigrant influence your approach to poetry?
I’m not only an immigrant but I’m also from long lines of immigrants, some who came from Syria to the highlands of Peru to California, and from others who came from the Aymara people of the Andean altiplano, surviving and changing through the Incan and Spanish conquests and subsequent mestizaje, and who recently migrated down to the urban capital of Lima. Those layers of displacement have left me not with a rich intersection of cultural and linguistic heritages but with a shallowness. That’s okay, because I still have language, body, and spirit. I try to make that intersection my home in art.

What value do you see in poetry as a form of expression over other creative formats?
I’m with the poet Alice Notley, who wrote in her poem “I, the People,”: “And we are the masters/ of hearing & saying/ at the double edge of body &/ breath.” I walk away from her word “masters,” though, mostly because I believe that when we do our work at the “double edge of body &/ breath” we don’t own or control anything but instead make ourselves available and porous to ghosts, landscapes, and to those others bearing their “double edges” among us.

What is the biggest challenge you see today for poets?
We’re a varied lot, and so are our challenges. Maybe the perennial and shared challenge is to stay close on the heels of our betters (across all genre and media) so as to deepen into the particulars of our own questions and of our own art. As for “today,” social media helps by creating access, visibility, and community for folks kept out by old systems, and social media hurts when it distracts us with our own ubiquity and keeps us from asking, Access to what?

What are you working on now?

I have a couple of manuscripts drafted out, but I’m searching for new angles of approach so I can get back into them. One is a book-length verse project and the other is a hybrid prose and verse work of scholarship, or of reading. While I search for ways to enliven those manuscripts, I’m helping out with some translations from Spanish of the outsider Peruvian poetry group, Kloaka, and I’m reading a draft of a text that chronicles Palestinian artist Khaled Jarrar’s journey accompanying Syrian refugees across the Mediterranean and into Europe. Hopefully, I can be useful to Khaled as he works out how to use that text in future installations and multi-media works. More broadly, I’m reading works written by folks outside the U.S.A., trying to hack a way out of our big bad provincialism.

Born in Peru to a Syrian mother and Peruvian father, Farid Matuk immigrated to California at the age of six and was undocumented until the age of thirteen. The recipient of an Alumni New Works grant from the Headlands Center for the Arts, Matuk is an assistant professor of English at the University of Arizona.

Post-Border Visions by Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez

February 9, 2018

In 1996, anthropologist Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez published Border Visions: Mexican Cultures of the Southwest United States with the University of Arizona Press. The book was hailed as a comprehensive guide to border culture, distilling historical, sociological, and anthropological perspectives. It has been taught in courses across the country. Today, the author reflects on the book’s publication and what’s changed since its publication.

Carlos Velez-Ibanez
School Director & Regents Professor
School of Transborder Studies
Arizona State University

It has been twenty-two years since Border Visions was published and the U.S.-Mexico transborder region has suffered through many changes. Since then, my own work has changed significantly. Fundamentally, I understand now that my previous work generally cut off at that bifurcation we call the border. Border Visions began much more broadly in telling the narrative of the south-to-north movements from the pre-Hispanic eras to the nineteenth century, and then I conveniently strayed only north. Part of it, I think, emerged from an almost desperate desire to tell a narrative alternative to those previously composed about this population north of the line. My model had been the works of Eric. R. Wolf and others like Richard N. Adams, books investigating big ideas over big areas. Few scholars had applied a similar scope to the Southwest North American region, with the notable exception of James Diego Vigil in From Indians to Chicanos. In my own book, I also expanded into the areas of art and literature, as well as social science and history.

It seems that Border Visions has had resonance over the last twenty-two years, and it can still stand for that period and in part for today. However, it stopped at the border for the most part, even though most of the narratives and many of the experiences that I knew to be true were in fact transborder—culturally, linguistically, socially, and certainly economically. These include seeing my father come home one day saddened and shattered by being told to “go back to Mexico” when he asked for a raise in the automobile garage in which he had worked for many years, even though he had attended Roskruge Junior High and worked as a Western Union delivery boy as a kid in Tucson, Arizona. Or the countless stories of the Mexican Revolution that my mother told, including the tales of revolutionary young men dying of wounds in her home’s courtyard as her mother tried to staunch their wounds with pillowcases and bedsheets. This occurred while an explosive bullet to the stomach was killing her father, fighting on the opposite side. The narratives of multiple crossings went on and on: I was practically born on the dividing line between the two Nogaleses when my pregnant mother, my father, and my sister were returning to Tucson after visiting relatives in Magdalena, Sonora. Birth pains began a few miles from the borderline, and we barely made it to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where I was born. It was said that my bassinet was placed by the hospital window, which was next to the cyclone fence dividing Sonora from Arizona, allegedly with my feet facing south and my head facing north.

So culturally, linguistically, economically, politically, and ecologically, I had not written Border Visions with what my early birth, almost between borders, taught me, nor did I reflect on growing up in the reality of the transborder region. I had paid insufficient attention to the enormous growth of the maquiladoras and the persistent and telling migration north during the 1970s, even though it was obviously present. New populations of Mexicans were moving from central and southern Mexican states into my old Tucson neighborhood, and the neighborhood changed from bilingual to monolingual Spanish-speaking. In 1985, I returned to the area and stopped by a local supermarket where I had worked as a teenager. Now its shelves were filled with Mexican brands, piñatas hung from the ceiling, and Spanish flowed through the aisles. I had been the only one of ten or twelve cashiers who spoke Spanish; those numbers were now reversed.

Yet in the schools, the old, oppressive practices of monolingualism remain to this day. Teachers no longer punished children for speaking Spanish with “swats” to their rear ends, but there are more pernicious and supposedly “beneficial” techniques, such as the extensive use of tests and “immersion” to rid children of their invaluable linguistic and cultural resources. Coupled with an Arizona legislature determined to upend the demographic changes created by a transborder economy, the population once again faced many of the same educational circumstances that structured the way in which children learned, even though the pedagogies of “immersion” are known to be faulty, theoretically and methodologically. This is true to this day in many states and especially Arizona.

I tried to make up for this inattentiveness since I had not adequately told the transborder narrative. So relatively recently I did so in three other books: An Impossible Living in a Transborder World (2010), Hegemonies of Language and their Discontents (2017), and The U.S.-Mexico Transborder Region (2017) with Josiah Heyman. The first is an economically oriented work that crosscuts the border bifurcation and lays out a sound theoretical platform from which to understand the movements and adaptations of Mexican populations moving north. The second book focuses on language policies filtered through the Spanish empire, the Mexican Republic, and the United States. It focuses on the impacts and responses to the imposition of language on populations inhabiting the “Southwest North American Region,” which is the ecological setting over which languages were impressed as one of the central means of reducing or eliminating the cultural underpinnings of Indigenous- and later Mexican-origin populations. The third book is a strong theoretically and methodologically informed collaboration of new and exciting young scholars who have experienced, researched, and lived in the region and who have nailed down the sources, processes, and structures of the asymmetry and inequality of the region.

These complete a kind of triangle of works in English that makes up for the limitations of Border Visions, without which they would not have been developed. Yet even these were not sufficient in reality to fix the transborder narrative, because these were all in English. So I began to publish works in Spanish like Visiones de acá y de allá (2015) and a number of others with Mexican colleagues, and in so doing I have tried to cement a level of scholarship that is effectively transborder. Colleagues from the north and south of the bifurcation are equal partners in an otherwise asymmetrical economic and political region.

Thus what began as a venture into a limited arena of scholarship north of the bifurcation emerged over the past twenty-two years as much more complete ecological, economic, political, cultural, linguistic, and social narrative of the Southwest North American Region.

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez is Regents’ Professor in the School of Transborder Studies and the School of   Human Evolution and Social change and the Motorola Presidential Professor of Neighborhood Revitalization at Arizona State University. His numerous honors include the 2004 Robert B. Textor and Family Prize for Excellence in Anticipatory Anthropology and the 2003 Bronislaw Malinowski Medal. Vélez-Ibáñez was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1994 and was named as a Corresponding member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences (Miembro Correspondiente de la Academia Mexicana de Ciencias) in 2015.

Mural, The Last Supper (José Antonio Burciaga at Casa Zapata, Stanford University) photo courtesy Gozamos, shared via creative commons license.

Five Questions with Border Scholar Oscar J. Martínez

February 6, 2018

Oscar J. Martínez’s forthcoming book Ciudad Juárez: Saga of a Legendary Border City provides a rich and nuanced portrait of a complex border city. He will be a featured author at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books, discussing Juárez’s history as a Spanish frontier outpost and the city’s current border issues. Before the festival, we sat down with him to discuss his inspiration:

You spent some of your childhood in Ciudad Juárez. Were you aware of the dichotomy between El Paso and Juárez when you were growing up?

Crossing the border frequently made me highly aware of the differences in the levels of development of the two cities. I was struck by the presence of high‐rise buildings in El Paso and their complete absence in Juárez, the differing traffic patterns in the two cities, and the ubiquitous poor colonias in Juárez versus the sprawling middle-class neighborhoods in El Paso.

What sparked your interest in border studies and history and inspired you to study and write about it?

While in graduate school, I did research on Mexican cross‐border migration patterns. This made me aware of the importance of border cities as gateways to the United States. But I learned that migration was only one aspect of the all-important relationship between the Mexican border cities and the neighboring country. There were larger issues to consider, especially economic, social, and cultural linkages. By then I knew that the best way to understand the nature of cities, regions, or countries is through a historical lens.

How has Juárez changed in the forty years since your previous book on the city, Border Boom Town?

Several dramatic changes took place in Juárez during the last four decades. The local population exploded as a result of a great expansion of the export‐oriented assembly manufacturing industry (maquiladoras), the city became a major drug trafficking center and a headquarters for a prominent drug cartel, and drug related crime skyrocketed, making Juárez one of the world’s most dangerous urban centers. The violence destroyed the city’s famed tourist industry and dependence on the United States deepened considerably.

What effects do you foresee the current administration and proposed border wall may have on the city?

The prospect that the Trump administration may terminate NAFTA or change it significantly has created great concern and uncertainty in Juárez because the city is extremely dependent on the U.S. economy. Trump’s “wall” is not much of a concern because El Paso is already walled off from Juárez.

What do you hope readers will take away from your new book?

My hope is that readers will develop a greater understanding of the unique nature of the U.S.‐Mexico border region, the monumental challenges faced by Mexican border cities, and the role that the U.S. economy has played in shaping the destiny of communities like Juárez.

Oscar J. Martínez is a Regents’ Professor of History at the University of Arizona. He has authored and edited numerous books and many articles, book chapters, and reviews.


Photos Courtesy Oscar J. Martínez

ICYMI: Southwest Books of the Year 2017

February 2, 2018

In case you missed it: we are very pleased to announce that two University of Arizona Press titles received special recognition in the Southwest Books of the Year 2017, sponsored by the Pima County Public Library (PCPL). Here’s what Bill Broyles, a research associate at the University of Arizona’s Southwest Center, says about his selections:

After the Wildfire: Ten Years of Recovery from the Willow Fire, by John Alcock

How does a mountain restore itself following a raging forest fire? Where the Willow Fire burned thousands of acres in the Mazatzal Mountains of central Arizona in 2004, John Alcock invites us along as he monitors and records the serial return of lupine and damselflies, grasshoppers and garter snakes, oak and elk. With the practiced eye of a college professor, he stops to examine a squad of caterpillars feeding together on one branch and wonders whether they have a toxic defense against hungry birds or if they find safety in numbers. He points out that barrel cacti secrete nectar sugar for ants, so they will guard against cactus-eating insects. We see Centris bees wrestling over females. Each fascinating chapter reveals how life regains its foothold on the scorched slopes. Faced with fire and changing climate, Alcock consoles us to take a hike ‘somewhere, anywhere’ and appreciate the forest as it evolves.”

A Land Apart: The Southwest and the Nation in the Twentieth Century, by Flannery Burke

“When friends from afar come to visit our Southwest, what should we show them? Scenic places, certainly, but what about the culture? Navajo rugs or jewelry? The UFO site in New Mexico? Low-rider cars on the streets of Tucson? Dams and campuses, museums and missions? And how did all of these pieces become our Southwest, anyway? For example, tourism brought jobs to some of the hottest and driest places, but that bringing also required constructing stories, sometimes mythical, about those places. In A Land Apart, cultural historian Flannery Burke explains how the Southwest became the Southwest and why Arizona and New Mexico seem so different. She dissects the reasons that the defense industry boomed here, delves into bedeviling problems like water rights, explores the influences of Native Nation and Mexican cultures, and weaves literature and arts into a satisfying discussion of the fascinating history behind those landmarks and highlights of our culture.”

Southwest Books of the Year is the PCPL’s guide to the best books of the year with a southwestern setting or subject. The panelists are subject specialists and voracious consumers of Southwest literature.View the complete list of selections and enjoy the thumbnail reviews here. Congratulations to all of the honorees!

10th Annual Tucson Festival of Books

February 1, 2018

The University of Arizona Press is gearing up for the tenth anniversary of the Tucson Festival of Books (TFOB), to be held Saturday, March 10, and Sunday, March 11, on the University of Arizona campus in Tucson, Arizona!

TFOB is a major literary event, regularly drawing more than 400 authors from across the country and more than 135,000 attendees. Panels, readings, and other author activities present a fantastic opportunity to hear from talented authors on a wide range of subjects. Visit the TFOB website and browse the offerings by participant or genre, then create a personalized schedule. There are plenty of family and entertainment activities, including a free concert on Saturday night by the star-studded Rock Bottom Remainders, the self-proclaimed “hard-listening” band.

The UA Press will have a large booth on the mall with a wide selection of books for sale at great discounts and signings by our authors. Stay tuned for more information!

Choice 2017 Outstanding Academic Titles

January 30, 2018

We are delighted to announce that two University of Arizona Press titles have been selected as 2017 Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice magazine:

Mars: The Pristine Beauty of the Red Planet, by Alfred S. McEwen, Candice Hansen-Koharcheck, and Ari Espinoza

“Splendidly illustrated. . . . Every picture puzzles and delights.”—Choice

Starving for Justice: Hunger Strikes, Spectacular Speech, and the Struggle for Dignity, by Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval

“The author bases his book on historical archival and oral interviews, making it original and organic. This is the first scholarship that investigates the Chicana/o studies social movements of the 1990s, and [it] is a major contribution for future scholarly development of this critical subject.”—Choice

Choice confers their Outstanding Academic Titles to award “outstanding works for their excellence in presentation and scholarship, the significance of their contribution to the field, their originality and value as an essential treatment of their subject, and significance in building undergraduate collections.”

January 29, 2018

On a clear, cold January morning in 1948, a plane reportedly carrying thirty-two passengers caught fire over Los Gatos Canyon. The engine exploded, the left wing ripped apart from the fuselage, and more than a hundred witnesses watched as the airship spiraled out of control and crashed on the edge of the Diablo Valley.

All aboard were lost to the flames, including the flight crew and twenty-eight Mexican nationals, many of them bracero workers returning home. National media only reported the names of the white pilots, stewardess, and immigration officer. The others were simply listed as “deportees.” Their remains were buried in a mass unmarked grave.

They would remain anonymous for the next seven decades.

Inspired by Woody Guthrie’s protest song “Plane Wreck at Los Gatos (Deportee),” author Tim Z. Hernandez set out to right this wrong. Hernandez, the son of migrant farmworkers and a professor at the University of Texas El Paso, embarked on a six-year search to identify the “deportees,” fund a memorial gravestone, locate the victims’ families, and give voice to their stories in his book All They Will Call You

This weekend marked the seventieth anniversary of the tragedy. Hernandez commemorated the lives lost in the plane wreck at Los Gatos Canyon with a public gathering at the victims’ last resting place at Holy Cross Cemetery in Fresno, California.

The memorial service began with a sage blessing and a moment of silence, followed by music from Hernandez and Lance Canales. The family of deceased passengers were the guests of honor. 

On Monday, January 29, the California State Senate convened to formally recognize the seventieth anniversary of the plane wreck at Los Gatos Canyon and Hernandez’s work. The event was an effort led by Senator William Monning and Senator Ben Hueso, with support of the California Latino Legislative Caucus. In the seven decades since the tragedy, never has the incident been officially acknowledged or recognized by any governmental agency, until now.

Tim Z. Hernandez was born and raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley. An award-winning poet, novelist, and performer, he is a recipient of the American Book Award for poetry, the Colorado Book Award for poetry, the Premio Aztlán Literary Prize for fiction, and the International Latino Book Award for historical fiction. His books and research have been featured in the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, CNN, Public Radio International, and National Public Radio. He continues to perform and speak across the United States and internationally, but he divides his time between Fresno and El Paso, where he is an assistant professor in the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Texas, El Paso.







January 23, 2018

We are delighted to announce that two University of Arizona Press titles have been honored with Southwest Book Awards, sponsored by the Border Regional Library Association (BRLA):

A Land Apart: The Southwest and the Nation in the Twentieth Century, by Flannery Burke

A Land Apart is not just a cultural history of the modern Southwest—it is a complete rethinking and recentering of the key players and primary events marking the Southwest in the twentieth century. Historian Flannery Burke emphasizes policy over politicians, communities over individuals, and stories over simple narratives.

Navajo Sovereignty: Understanding and Visions of the Dine People, edited by Lloyd L. Lee

Navajo Sovereignty discusses Western law’s view of Diné sovereignty, research, activism, creativity, and community, and Navajo sovereignty in traditional education. Above all, Lloyd L. Lee and the contributing scholars and community members call for the rethinking of Navajo sovereignty in a way more rooted in Navajo beliefs, culture, and values.

Since 1971 the Southwest Book Awards have been presented in recognition of outstanding books about the Southwest published in any genre and directed toward any audience. To see the complete list of award recipients, please visit the BRLA website. Congratulations to all of the winners!

January 17, 2018

Discrimination is rampant, and working conditions are poor. Safety, pay, and class-war all threaten the future of one of the highest producing copper mines in the United States. Workers are pitted against owners, as the rich receive their keep and leave the bees to fend for the mighty Copper Queen Mine. This may sound like a recurrent story, and it is! For the town of Bisbee, Arizona, it’s actually a centennial of truths reenacted every July.

Such is the basis of Robert Greene’s new documentary film, Bisbee ’17, premiering at this year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah:

It’s 2017 in Bisbee, Arizona, an old copper-mining town just miles from the Mexican border. The town’s close-knit community prepares to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Bisbee’s darkest hour: the infamous Bisbee Deportation of 1917, during which 1,200 striking miners were violently taken from their homes, banished to the middle of the desert, and left to die.

Townspeople confront this violent, misunderstood past by staging dramatic recreations of the escalating strike. These dramatized scenes are based on subjective versions of the story and “directed,” in a sense, by residents with conflicting views of the event. Deeply personal segments torn from family history build toward a massive restaging of the deportation itself on the exact day of its 100th anniversary.

Filmmaker Robert Greene confronts the current political predicaments of immigration, unionization, environmental damage, and corporate corruption with direct, haunting messages about solidarity and struggle. With consummate skill and his signature penchant for bending the boundaries of documentary, Greene artfully stirs up the ghosts of our past as a cautionary tale that speaks to our present.

But this isn’t the first time Bisbee’s secret has been told. In 1999, the Press re-released Robert Houston’s  Bisbee ’17, for which the new film takes its name. Houston, a novelist and professor emeritus in creative writing at the University of Arizona, vividly re-creates a West of miners and copper magnates, bindlestiffs and scissorbills, army officers, private detectives, and determined revolutionaries in his historical fiction novel.

The protagonists in a bitter strike: the Wobblies (the IWW), the toughest union in the history of the West; and Harry Wheeler, the last of the two-gun sheriffs. In this class-war western, they face each other down in the streets of Bisbee, pitting a general strike against the largest posse ever assembled.

Against this backdrop runs the story of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, strike organizer from the East, caught between the worlds of her ex-husband—the Bisbee strike leader—and her new lover, an Italian anarchist from New York. As the tumultuous weeks of the strike unfold, she struggles to sort out what she really feels about both of them, and about the West itself.


Southwest Symposium 2018 Recap

January 9, 2018

The 16th Biennial Southwest Symposium was held in Denver, Colorado, this past weekend and celebrated the theme “Pushing Boundaries.” The symposium explored the formation and meaning of Bears Ears National Monument, new research in chronology and chronometry, Plains-Pueblo interactions, and new developments in museum archaeology and collections-based research.

UAP Senior Editor Allyson Carter was on the ground at the conference, manning the booth, meeting with authors, and presenting a joint publishing workshop. “It was a good conference,” she was pleased say, “the sessions were great, the papers were high-quality, everything was organized very well.”

A number of our authors were in attendance and made a special point of stopping by our booth to browse new titles and pose with their books:

From left to right: Authors Patricia Gilman, Michael Searcy, and Paul Minnis.

Matthew Peeples holding a copy of his forthcoming book for the first time.


What Have I Gotten Myself Into? Insights from Biosphere 2

January 4, 2018

Mark Nelson, one of the eight crew members locked in Biosphere 2 during its first closure experiment, offers a compelling insider’s view of the dramatic story behind the mini-world.  In his forthcoming book Pushing Our Limits: Insights from Biosphere 2, Nelson clears up common misconceptions as he presents the goals and results of the experiment and the project’s implications for today’s global environmental challenges.

On a winter night in January 1993, by opening a doorway we experienced a stunning physiological revival. We left a world with an oxygen level around 14 percent; equivalent to being on a 15,000-foot-tall mountain. In fact, we were at a 3,900-foot elevation in southern Arizona. Oxygen had been slowly disappearing for sixteen months. No one knew where it had gone. We were slowly climbing a mountain but going nowhere. Mission Control had pumped oxygen into a chamber on the other side of the door. Our atmosphere suddenly contained 26 percent, which was 5 percent higher than Earth’s air. In minutes, we felt decades younger. For the first time in many months, I heard the sound of running feet.

So many strange, disturbing, marvelous, powerful, and profound experiences unfolded during our two years as “biospherians.” The eight of us felt extraordinarily lucky to be the initial crew to live inside a miniature biosphere. We had to learn how to be its first natives.

Biosphere 1 (B1) is our Earth’s biosphere. Biosphere 2 was a three-acre world. B1 houses the global ecosystem, which includes all life. B1 is our planet’s life support system. Biosphere 2 was built to study how biospheres work, creating a laboratory for global ecological processes, to help ecology become an experimental science. It could also provide baseline information to design long-term life support systems for space.

The facility included people, farming, and technology. Earth’s biosphere has supported life for four billion years. Only quite recently have billions of people and modern industries been added. Living in Biosphere 2 might give new perspectives on whether—and how—harmony can be forged between humans and the global biosphere. Our two-year experiment began on September 26, 1991. We’d have two seasonal cycles to study how Biosphere 2 functioned. For comparison, a human spaceflight to explore Mars would also take two years. No one knew if we could stay inside for two years; so many things could go wrong. The facility was optimistically designed for a one-hundred-year operation.

The biospherian crew on closure day entering the front airlock, September 1991.

The first closure experiment was the “shake-down” mission; a trial run to find flaws, bugs, what we had to correct or change. We were also determined to collect as much data and to do as much research in collaboration with outside scientists as possible.

The odds, even from project insiders, heavily favored an early exit. Too many challenges—known and unknown—could end the experiment early. Some thought we wouldn’t even last three months. The world record in a closed ecological system was six months set by two-person crews at a Siberian research institute. Their basement facility powered by artificial lights was the size of a small apartment, their only companions were food crops. Our own sunshiny world contained a rainforest and a coral reef in a towering structure with seventy-five-foot-tall roofs. Every day we were able to stay alive inside, we would amass reams of research data.

We entered an untested facility in almost totally uncharted territory.

We included small chunks of Earth’s diversity inside the biosphere; bonsai rainforest, tropical grassland (savanna), desert, mangrove marsh, and coral reef ocean co-existed under one roof. Some of the world’s top ecologists and most innovative engineers worked to make this possible; no one knew how these biomes would develop. Ours was cutting-edge science, the greatest experiment in ecological self-organization ever conducted. To maintain biodiversity, we biospherians would intervene when we could. Our fog desert decided to go its own way and transformed during the experiment; maintaining the others took hard work and ingenuity, the coral reef in particular, was a nail-biter to the end.

In our nearly airtight world, we would experience the highs and lows of living intimately with seven other people. Outside politics and power struggles polarized and exacerbated in-fighting, though we entered as the best of friends and colleagues. I wouldn’t permit a bitter “To the traitors” as toastmaster at a Sunday night dinner where we enjoyed a precious bottle of home-brewed banana wine. There were no fistfights, but one crew member complained years later that she had been spit at. Twice. But we continued working unselfishly with one another. Whenever we feasted, partied, or enjoyed a rare delicacy like a cup of coffee from rainforest trees, tensions magically melted away. We’d relax and enjoy a temporary truce from group tensions. We acted mindfully in Biosphere 2, understanding that its teeming life was keeping us alive and healthy. We took care of her needs with tender loving care. She was our third lung and lifeboat. Some of us thought Biosphere 2 was the ninth biospherian.

Fish-eye lens photo of the Biosphere 2 farm. Photo by Abigail Alling, Biosphere 2, 1991-1993.

Eight Americans and Europeans suddenly became subsistence farmers. We lived off the land, eating what we grew, though we farmed in a high-tech, $150 million facility. Our small farm exceeded organic standards. We used nothing that might pollute our air, water, soils, or crops. We recycled our water and soil nutrients. Even our sewage was treated and recycled. We cared for our farm animals with affection, but they were slaughtered as needed. Our diet consisted primarily of fruits, grains, and vegetables.

We experienced hunger throughout the two years and plates were always licked clean. Almost all of us became much better cooks. Peer pressure for delicious food was a great motivator. I and many others ate our roasted peanuts whole, shell and all; we would eat anything to fill the stomach void. We were guinea pigs, the first humans extensively studied on an “undernourished but not malnourished” diet. This paralleled the pioneering research of Biosphere 2’s in-house doctor, who claimed a person could live 120 years on a calorie-restricted diet.

Periodically, project managers reminded us we were volunteers; the airlocks were unlocked, and we could leave anytime we’d had enough or if there were health dangers.

For safety, we had our resident doctor and a team of specialists on call at the nearby University of Arizona College of Medicine, and a fully equipped medical facility and analytic laboratory were inside the biosphere. Automated systems could detect potentially toxic substances in our air and water. We started with a biosphere as clean and unpolluted as possible. Chemical deodorants and cleaning supplies weren’t allowed because our world was so ensitive to pollution. Even a small fire would mean evacuating, so we didn’t light candles, even on a birthday cake. At winter parties, a monitor played a video of a wood-burning fireplace—we felt warmer sitting near it.

Though we didn’t intend it, the toes of dominant analytic, small-scale science were seriously stepped on. The reductionist approach seeks to analyze everything at the micro level, each variable being tested separately.  Biosphere 2 used both analytic and holistic science approaches. The project violated unspoken taboos. Include humans and our technologies in the experiment? Heresy! We knew one thing for certain: Biosphere 2 would ignite plenty of controversy.

Systems ecologists and veterans of NASA’s Apollo Project 1960s glory days were allies from the beginning. To achieve the goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, NASA abandoned component-by- component testing and went to “all-up systems testing.” We followed a similar strategy to create this complex miniworld; it couldn’t be done piece by piece like Lego.

The six years from project conception until completion were exciting. Scientists, engineers, and hundreds of construction workers were very motivated. They were making history, doing the near impossible. Some doubted at every stage whether Biosphere 2 could be built, operated, or used for advancing human knowledge. Who were these mavericks behind the project?

Despite many world-class scientists and institutions consulting, the whole endeavor was way too ambitious, too daring. Even some friends and colleagues of the project thought it was fifty years ahead of its time.

Biosphere 2 was radical and revolutionary—a challenge to “business as usual.” The entire “technosphere” had one overarching goal: serve and protect life. Our engineers had to design technology to make waves, rain, winds; they had to control climate and mimic geological processes. And they had to use machinery and equipment that wouldn’t poison and pollute. Life ruled. Technology knew its place and obeyed and served, a radical notion. What would happen if we did that everywhere?

The engineering goal was about 1 percent per month air exchange (leakage) from the biosphere. That’s thousands of times tighter than the most tightly sealed buildings and homes, far tighter than even the International Space Station. But, if this air-tightness was achieved we might wind up with a horrific “sick building syndrome” from a buildup of trace gases. We needed a way to ensure that those trace gases didn’t build up in a structure with two acres of farm and wilderness areas, hundreds of pumps, motors, and other equipment, and miles of piping. Our solution was to use our farm soil and plants as a biofilter to clean the air. We hoped it would work.

Carbon dioxide was called the tiger of Biosphere 2. We continually monitored its levels in our atmosphere since it could destroy our world, and it would be difficult to keep the levels from rising too high. Every cycle goes hundreds to thousands of times faster than normal in a tightly sealed, small, and life-packed miniature biosphere. Our ocean and atmosphere were tiny compared to Earth’s; we had entered a time machine. Would all the life inside Biosphere 2—with us humans doing everything we could to help—be  sufficient to prevent a runaway rise in carbon dioxide, our tiny version of climate change? If CO2 levels got too high, our coral reef might die, all the plants (including our food crops) might slow their growth, and our health might be directly threatened.

By closing the airlock behind us and starting our two-year experiment, we pushed the limits and stepped into the unknown. It would be a roller coaster, with despair and sadness and euphoria and achievement. Every day, we worked to keep Biosphere 2—and ourselves—alive and healthy. For the eight of us, it was a profoundly personal and life-changing journey.

The author carrying fodder, sorghum stems after a grain harvest. Photo by Abigail Alling, Biosphere 2, 1991-1993.

Dr. Mark Nelson was a member of the eight-person “biospherian” crew for the first two-year closure experiment. He is a founding director and the chairman of the Institute of Ecotechnics and has worked for decades in closed ecological system research, ecological engineering, the restoration of damaged ecosystems, desert agriculture and orchardry, and wastewater recycling. He is the author of The Wastewater Gardener: Preserving the Planet One Flush at a Time and co-author of Space Biospheres and Life Under Glass: The Inside Story of Biosphere 2.

Seven Questions with Mystery Writer Sara Sue Hoklotubbe

December 20, 2017

In just a few short months, Sara Sue Hoklotubbe’s latest mystery Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch hits bookstores. The fourth book in the Sadie Walela Mystery Series draws Sadie deeper and deeper into danger. When Angus Clyborn’s Buffalo Ranch opens in Cherokee Country, murder, thievery, and a missing white buffalo calf take Sadie Walela and her wolfdog on a dangerous and wild ride.

In anticipation of the book’s release, we were excited to chat with Sara about what drew her to mystery novels and to get her thoughts on the lack of Native American representation in mystery writing. 

What advice would you give any aspiring mystery novel writers?

To read, first, and then write, write, write, with a passion. Write what you’d like to read. Don’t try to copy or emulate other writers; create your own voice and tell your own stories. Chances are, if you like what you write, other people will, too.

What drew you to writing mystery novels?

I spent twenty‐one years working in the banking business and had very little time for reading. But when I discovered Tony Hillerman’s mysteries, that all changed. I loved how he wrote mysteries and wove in Navajo and Hopi culture. Even though Tony was non‐Indian, he wrote with such accuracy and respect for Indians that the Navajo Nation gave him their blessing. That’s when I decided I wanted to write mysteries about my people – the Cherokee.

Why do you think there is so little Native American representation in mystery writing?

I think it is simply a case of numbers. Native Americans, who once totally populated this country, have sadly been reduced to about two percent of the population. And, while there are many Native authors, they write in diverse categories from fiction and non‐fiction, both current and historical, to screenplays and poetry. When you boil it down, there’s only a few of us writing mysteries.

You draw upon your upbringing in Oklahoma for your setting. What are the differences between the Cherokee Nation you grew up in and the one you describe in your novels?

It is very much the same. I like to write in a current day setting rather than historical, because I want to dispel some of the myths of what life is like in the Cherokee Nation today. We do not live in teepees. Never did, never will. Cherokees are ranchers, police officers, lawyers, small‐business owners, bankers, business people, writers, and anything else you can think of. I try to describe a real life setting in my books.

Which of your characters do you identify with the most?

Probably Sadie. We both think we can save the world, are quick to speak our mind, and hand out our own kind of justice. Sadie is a good and honest person, and I’d like to think I am, too, even though I’m quick to point out that Sadie is not me. I would be naïve to think most of the other characters I write about don’t have a sliver of my personality in there somewhere.

Is there more in store for Sadie Walela?

I hope so. I’m waiting for her to come to me in a dream and tell me what’s next. We’ll see.

What book are you currently reading?

I recently read Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann and Anne Hillerman’s Song of the Lion. I’m currently reading Winter’s Child by Margaret Coel. Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil de Grasse Tyson is next on my list to read.

Cover photo: The American Bison by Adam Cocke

Capturing the Singular Beauty of Bears Ears Country

December 15, 2017

Rebecca Robinson is a freelance journalist who has spent decades exploring the landscapes of Bears Ears country. Today she speaks to the singular beauty of the region captured by photographer Stephen E. Strom in his forthcoming book Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land.

Should an eighth wonder of the world ever be proclaimed, a strong case could be made for the landscape of southeastern Utah, a region so striking it has become a visual shorthand for the wild majesty of the American West. Visitors to Utah’s portion of the Four Corners region find themselves mesmerized by its endless ridges, buttes, spires, natural bridges, and exquisite canyons—each one, like a sandstone fingerprint, completely unique. The vivid vermillion hues that define the region’s red-rock country are complemented by softer, cream-colored layers and the subtle green of sagebrush, whose ubiquity and resilience testify to stubborn survival in a harsh land. This vast terrain bears scars as well: of explosive emergence and tectonic shifts that shaped Earth into otherworldly formations of stark cinder cones, rainbow bentonite hills, and impossibly steep anticlines. These landmarks, formed millions of years ago, painted and sculpted by water and wind, provide a visible record of deep time.

Evidence of the prehistoric abounds in the region. Fossils of plant and marine life, along with those of early amphibians and mammals, inspire awe in visitors and scholars alike. The stories of eons past, preserved within the layered landscape, illuminate how life on the Colorado Plateau—of which Bears Ears is a part—evolved and adapted to the land’s slow march northward from the equator as it endured radical shifts in climate and inundations by oceans and inland seas. Today’s rich and diverse assemblage of plant and animal life is as fragile as it is tenacious. Each patch of lichen, herd of mule deer, and field of sagebrush plays a vital role in a delicately balanced ecosystem in which Nature’s rhythms must be respected to ensure their survival.

Talk to people who know and love this landscape, and you’ll quickly discover that it’s impossible for them to describe a favorite canyon, trail, or vista without a touch of reverence. Sometimes they will point, tracing the path of a raptor or the meanders of a river. Some will subconsciously place their hands over their heart, an unspoken expression of deep love for a land that lives within them—and, in some cases, changed them forever.

This land of rugged beauty and rich history is Bears Ears, a new national monument declared by President Barack Obama on December 28, 2016. Named for twin buttes visible for sixty miles in all directions, Bears Ears National Monument protects an area spanning 1,350,000 acres—more than 2,000 square miles; larger than the state of Delaware.

The movement to protect Bears Ears is the product of a unique moment in time, the result of an unprecedented effort by Native American tribes and a powerful endorsement of tribal sovereignty by a receptive U.S. President. At the same time, it is yet another chapter in America’s long history of conflicts over how best to protect and steward public lands. Similar debates predate it, and similar struggles will succeed it. Taken together, these debates and attempts to resolve them speak to the ongoing search for common ground in deeply divided communities. But therein lies a sense of hope for the future: Polarized as each group is, they collectively express the same belief that the land is everything and not just a place to live in, explore, or make a living. The land is a source of strength, renewal, and identity to all who call Bears Ears country home. Natives and Anglos in San Juan County, regardless of their spiritual beliefs or world view, have used the same words to explain their connection to Bears Ears: “The land is who we are.”

What both the land and people of Bears Ears country yearn for is healing: between the tribes and the federal government; among the region’s tribes who share histories of bitter conflict; among the tribes and residents of San Juan County—Native and Anglo, Mormon and non-Mormon, staunch supporters and steadfast opponents of the national monument; and of the land, protecting an eighth wonder of the world from efforts to exploit its riches for private financial gain.

In many ways, San Juan County’s challenge to find common ground and common purpose mirror those of the nation as a whole. True healing can only be achieved through collective listening, respect, compassion, and leadership and acknowledging that past wounds—including military action—inflicted by the federal government on both Native Americans and the Mormon people are many and, in some cases, shared. The future will depend on the courage of all to speak truths, to commit to hear and respect all voices, and to seek mutual understanding that will allow citizens to create a just and sustainable future that benefits all.

In Bears Ears: Views from a Sacred Land Stephen E. Strom’s photographs capture the singular beauty of Bears Ears country in all seasons, its textural subtleties portrayed alongside the drama of expansive landscapes and skies, deep canyons, mystifying spires, and towering mesas. To Strom’s alert and sensitive eyes, a scrub oak on a hillside or a pattern in windswept sand is as essential to capturing the spirit of the landscape as the region’s most iconic vistas. In seeing red-rock country through his lens, viewers can begin to discover the rich beauty, remarkable diversity, seductive power, and disarming complexity that embody Bears Ears National Monument’s sacred lands.

Years from now, these images may serve as either a celebration of the foresight of visionary leaders, from President Teddy Roosevelt’s original vision of national monuments for America to the recent vision of tribal leaders and President Obama, or, should President Trump and his allies rescind the Bears Ears National Monument declaration, as an elegy for what was lost—for the tribes and for future generations of Americans.



Rebecca Robinson was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and makes her home in Portland, Oregon. Her journalism work has been widely published and broadcast in numerous print, online, and radio outlets, and she has received awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, the Alliance for Women in Media, and the Associated Press.

Through twenty individual stories, her forthcoming book Voices from Bears Ears: Seeking Common Ground on Sacred Land (Fall 2018) captures the passions of the debate that led to the creation of Bears Ears National Monument, a land of unsurpassed natural beauty and deep historical significance. She continues to capture the passions of those on opposing sides of the Bears Ears battle with weekly online updates.

Stephen E. Strom was born in New York City. After receiving his B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University, he spent forty-five years as a distinguished research astronomer. He began photographing in 1978, and his work has been exhibited widely throughout the U.S. and is in the permanent collections of the Center for Creative Photography and Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, among others.


Photos courtesy Stephen E. Strom

AAA 2017 Recap

December 13, 2017

Thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth at the American Anthropological Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C.! We always love meeting our authors face-to-face, and a few folks were kind enough to allow us to take their photos in the booth:

Michelle A. Lelièvre and Jennifer P. Mathews

Virginia D. Nazarea and UAP senior editor Allyson Carter

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez and Josiah Heyman

Jim Igoe and Georgina Drew

Anthony K. Webster and Paul V. Kroskrity

We look forward to seeing you all next year in San Jose!

On Archaeology and Social Identities in the Ancient Past

December 12, 2017

Archaeologist Matthew A. Peeples has spent more than a decade working at sites across the Southwest. In his forthcoming book Connected Communities, Peeples looks to comparative social sciences and contemporary social movements to understand how social identities formed and changed in the ancient past. Today, he shares with us the inspiration behind his new book.

“Who were the people who lived here?”

I often hear this question when I give site tours for the public or conduct fieldwork in places where locals might pay a visit. It is a question that probably sounds simple and straightforward to the person asking it.

To an archaeologist like me who has spent a lot of time thinking about how social groups form and change, this question opens the door to all kinds of complexity. If I suspect that my visitor is looking for a quick answer—or if we have a looming project deadline—I may give her the short and way-too-simple version. This usually means providing the typical archaeological cultural or regional designation (“they were Ancestral Pueblo people” or “they were Hohokam people” or “they were the ancestors of people living at Zuni today”). If I am feeling a bit more inspired—or looking for an opportunity to have a longer conversation in the shade—I may go into the particular social and demographic histories, describing archaeological evidence for migration streams or material evidence for how the nature and scale of families, communities, or larger social groups changed through time.

In my experience, the long answer to this deceptively simple question resonates quite well with members of the public and archaeologists alike, provided that I can find a clear and compelling way to describe interesting patterns and processes in the data.

In an effort to come up with better ways of explaining the complexities inherent in social group identities, how they change, and how we study that process archaeologically, I have often found it useful to rely on analogy with contemporary events and institutions. Most people living in the world of nation-states and borders have a good sense of what it means to have multiple and nested identities. When I turn the tables and ask my inquisitive visitors “who are you?” I find that they seldom stop at one or two labels and often rattle off quite a few. These might include their nationality, state/territory/city/neighborhood of residence or birth, ethnic heritage, familial ties, religion, occupation, or many other designations. Importantly, some of these designations are based on their own direct relationships, while others link them to groups much larger than they could ever hope to know personally.

In the United States, where I do my research, most people are well acquainted with the metaphor of the “American melting pot”—the romanticized notion of how the diverse populations that make up the nation came to represent a coherent whole—and they probably also have some notion of the diversity of people living in the United States through its ethnic neighborhoods and the waves of immigration that shaped such places.

Such contemporary examples make it much easier to explain how archaeologists document similar migration streams, identify socially diverse communities or enclaves, and track the ways people marked or masked differences in the past. We see archaeological evidence of the same historical processes that drive the formation, maintenance, or dissolution of social groups in the world today. Identity is a complicated tapestry for us, and there is no compelling reason to believe it was less so in the past.

Conversations with the public like these brought me to the research for my book Connected Communities. Since I first started studying archaeology, I have been interested in understanding how people form very large social groups, especially those that are so large that they include people who will probably never meet. Searching for analogues and new perspectives on such large-scale social groups, I turned to a body of literature focused on nationalism, ethnic identity, and the drivers of social change in the contemporary world. This work suggests that the formation of social groups and the process of social change are intrinsically linked, and, importantly, researchers working from this perspective have developed tools and theoretical frameworks for exploring such relationships (i.e., social network analysis). The more I read, the more the underlying processes and mechanisms at work felt familiar to me as an archaeologist studying social change at regional scales in the ancient Southwest.

At the same time, and somewhat to my dismay, I found that researchers working within this paradigm from a contemporary perspective often made assumptions about the supposed absence of certain kinds of identities and interactions in premodern societies that are, to my mind, unfounded. Still, I considered that the methods and models used to untangle the complicated web of identities in the contemporary world might have some utility for exploring social groups in the more distant past through archaeological evidence.

Might such models push us toward new and interesting revelations about identity and social change in the past? Could archaeologists contribute to the broader debate in the social sciences by expanding the scope of such frameworks to kinds of societies that have not yet been considered or by using new kinds of evidence? I hope to take the first steps toward addressing these important questions in my work.

Matthew A. Peeples is an assistant professor of anthropology and the research director of the Center for Archaeology and Society in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University.

Poetry Magazine: The Unsung Passion of Ray Gonzalez

December 8, 2017

This month, Poetry Magazine featured a touching guest post from Roy G. Guzmán, who took the opportunity to celebrate the immense literary contributions and impact of Camino del Sol poet Ray Gonzalez:

Through Gonzalez’s poetry I’ve discovered the various syntaxes that run through my own linguistic DNA. Through him I’ve discovered how to deploy my metaphors and when to reveal my silences (“Beware the silence stronger than the voice,” he writes in “Beware the Silence,” included in Human Crying Daisies (2003)). Like his personality—measured, as if ticking like a clock, and with an appetite for tactful wit—Gonzalez’s poem-tellers can be shy but, when allowed to speak, can verbalize truths with the swiftness of a lizard. In “What Lesson?” for instance, the speaker asks, “What were the questions our mothers asked? Who did they make love to before our fathers arrived with newspapers and torn wills and deeds?” Gonzalez has the associative skill and patience of James Wright, and that gift of surprise you find in Russell Edson’s best work. He knows when to walk into a poem and when to walk away, leaving everything around haunted.

Read the full feature on Poetry Magazine.

Library Legends Honor for Ofelia Zepeda

December 6, 2017

Clockwise: Shan Sutton, Ofelia Zepeda, along with previous honorees, John P. Schaefer, Helen Schaefer, and James S. Griffith

The University of Arizona Libraries named poet, scholar, and Sun Tracks Series Editor Ofelia Zepeda this year’s Library Legend. The Libraries feted Zepeda with a dinner at the Arizona Inn last month, where friends and colleagues gathered to recognize Zepeda’s lifetime contributions to letters, learning, and libraries.

Shan Sutton, Dean of Libraries, said of Zepeda, “When I think of Ofelia Zepeda, I am most impressed with her ability to transcend time. She seems to blend past and present seamlessly, summoning historical Tohono O’odham wisdom to provide context for her astute observations of life today.”

Among her many honors, Zepeda is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship, and she is the author of two acclaimed collections of poetry and a guide to Tohono O’odham grammar, proudly published by the University of Arizona Press.

From left: Kathryn Conrad, Ofelia Zepeda, and Felipe Molina

Kathryn Conrad, Director of the University of the Arizona Press, said, “I am awed and gratified by Ofelia’s vision to preserve language and culture through bilingual literature, poetry, stories and songs. For her deft leadership, her sound editorial judgement and her ability to see into the future, we owe Ofelia a deep debt of gratitude. Ofelia, thank you.”

Previous Library Legend honorees include University of Arizona Press authors and supporters Bernard L. “Bunny” Fontana, Jim Griffiths, and John and Helen Schaefer.

For this year’s event, Zepeda read her poem “The Way to Leave your Illness,” which shares the poet’s recognition and gratitude for the important and healing work of libraries and learning.

From left: Karen Frances-Begay, Ofelia Zepeda, Regina Siquieros, and Bernard Siquieros

The Way to Leave Your Illness
By Ofelia Zepeda

If you have an illness that won’t go away,
take a journey.
When you get there, leave it.
Place it on a rock; throw it into moving water;
bury it. Throw it into the wind.
Let it go.
Leave it there for others.
She had been sick for many days.

From left: Kristen Buckles and Katherine G. Morrissey

In her frustration she remembered
what her grandmother used to say,
“Take it far away and leave it there.”
She walked to the other end of campus
toward the library.
In her mind she left the discomfort, ache, pain, there.
She walked back, comforted,
knowing she didn’t bring it back with her.
Her illness is now hidden in the stacks.
Perhaps it is temporarily in periodicals.
Or archived in Special Collections.
or perhaps in fiction, no longer real.

From Where Clouds are Formed copyright 2008 Ofelia Zepeda

Books from the Sun Tracks series, which launched in 1972. Ofelia Zepeda has served as series editor since 1992.


Tucson Weekly: A Conversation with Tucson Author Tom Miller

December 4, 2017

In case you missed it, an excerpt from Tom Miller’s Cuba, Hot and Cold donned the cover of the Tucson Weekly this past week. The feature story was accompanied by a Q&A between Tucson Weekly Managing Editor Jim Nintzel and Tom Miller, in which nothing was off the table. The two discussed how the CIA recruited Miller for a spy, his work in the underground press, and being subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury for some of his work:

Cuba, Hot and Coldis an intimate look at Cuba and the people who live there. What do you hope people take away from this book?

When the U.S. and Cuba finally came to their senses and established this sort of detante, everybody said: “I gotta get there. I gotta get there before it changes. What I want them to take from the book is: You don’t have to get there before it changes. It’s gonna keep changing for the next five, 10, 20, 30 years. When people say they want to get there before it changes, they’re really saying they want to get there before McDonald’s gets there. But the changes have already taken place, and they’re going to continue to take place. I think that people who are so eager to get there are making a mistake. They can take their time and read up on it and enjoy it when they go.

You’ve been traveling to Cuba for 30 years now—what first drew you there?

It was partly political and partly journalistic. The journalistic part was that Cuba was and still is the best story in the Americas. And also political: I was part of the anti-war movement, and we would read underground newspapers not just from around the United States, but we would read Gramma, which was the communist party newspaper in Cuba. It was a terrible newspaper. It still is; it is an awful newspaper. But it tells you what is going on there. It tells you who is in charge and what their politics are. And in the anti-war movement, there was always a spot for Cuba at the table. It was at the far end of the table, but there was a spot for Cuba at the table. And because of the taboo, because of the embargo, it became more and more tempting to go.

Read the full feature Q&A and an excerpt of the book on the Tucson Weekly.

Kirkus: Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch

November 28, 2017

We’re nearly three months out from the much-anticipated release of Sara Sue Hoklotubbe’s fourth book in the Sadie Walela Mystery Series, Betrayal at the Buffalo Ranch. This morning, Kirkus released their review, which is set to hit newsstands December 15, 2017:

Arrogance and greed add up to a powerful motive for murder.

Travel agent Sadie Walela, who lives on a small country property with Sonny, her wolfdog, returns from a funeral to find her boyfriend, Deputy Lance Smith, at the scene of a nearby murder. The dead man, who was killed by a handmade arrow, is said to have been acquainted with ranch owner Angus Clyborn, but Clyborn, a newcomer, denies knowing him. An animal rights group is picketing Clyborn’s Buffalo Ranch, which is stocked with tame buffalo, elk, and other animals he intends to charge big bucks for rich trophy hunters to shoot. After Sadie witnesses the birth of a white buffalo calf on Clyborn’s property, she knows trouble is on the way should word get out a sacred animal was born there.

Read the full review online on Kirkus.

Richard Shelton Honored by 2017 NM–AZ Book Awards

November 21, 2017

Authors, book lovers, and publishers from Arizona and New Mexico gathered last week to celebrate the 2017 winners of the New Mexico–Arizona Book Awards. We’re thrilled to announce that Richard Shelton won the Best Biography – Arizona Subject award for his book Nobody Rich or Famous.

In this book, Shelton crafts a tale of poverty and its attendant sorrows: alcoholism, neglect, and abuse. But the tenacity of the human spirit shines through. This is an epic tale of Steinbeckian proportions, but it is not fiction. This is memoir in its finest tradition, illuminating today’s cultural chasm between the haves and have-nots. In the author’s words, Nobody Rich or Famous is “the story of a family and how it got that way.”

2017 marks the twelfth consecutive year of the New Mexico–Arizona Book Awards, which are sponsored by the New Mexico Book Co-op. To see the complete list of honorees, please visit the organization’s website. Congratulations to all the winners!



Frederick Aldama Featured at American Book Review Reading Series

November 20, 2017

Frederick Aldama reads from his flash fiction collection Long Stories Cut Short.

This past week, Frederick Luis Aldama had the pleasure of taking part in the American Book Review’s Reading Series, hosted by the University of Houston-Victoria.

Aldama’s visit included a public reading and discussion of his short fiction collection Long Stories Cut Short, a roundtable discussion with UHV faculty and students, and a week-long residency on the campus.


New York Times: Already My Lips Were Luminous

November 19, 2017

Terrance Hayes, current poetry editor for New York Times Magazine, selected Vickie Vértiz’s poem “Already My Lips Were Luminous” from her debut poetry collection Palm Frond with Its Throat Cut for the featured poem in this Sunday’s issue.

“I do not know the language of that place” underscores this poem’s striking balance of ambiguity and mystery. Much is said in the white spaces, caesuras, breaks. The unpunctuated five lines of the first stanza unspool suggestively creepily. The hands in car guts have a visceral intensity. The halting final couplet prompts a pause, a silence, a reread.

Read the full feature on the New York Times.

High Country News: Map of Language Charted by Diné Philosophy

November 13, 2017

High Country News caught up with Esther Belin just outside of her office at the Peaceful Spirit Treatment Center on the Southern Ute Reservation to discuss her latest book Of Cartography:

Her new book, Of Cartography, is framed by the four cardinal directions and their symbolism in Navajo history. It digs into the cultural and physical representation of Navajo language, how landscape shapes identity and what it means to be Indian.

Her poems try to capture the rhythm and storytelling intrinsic to the Diné language. “I wanted to investigate whether there was a Navajo meter or diction, and how that voice could come out,” she says. “It’s not just a collection of poems squeezed together. This was about pairing identity politics with Navajo philosophy, which is all very orderly, and then telling my story through the structure.”

Read the full feature interview on High Country News.

Celebrating Tom Miller and Cuba, Hot and Cold

November 13, 2017

Tom Miller recounts the day he accompanied Mariel Hemingway along the so-called “Hemingway trail.”

Recently, we had the pleasure of hosting a special celebration in honor of travel writer Tom Miller and the release of his latest book Cuba, Hot and Cold.

The event capped off University Press Week and was the latest in a series of collaborations with the University of Arizona Libraries’ Special Collections, who holds Tom Miller’s papers in their archives.

UA Libraries Dean Shan Sutton stresses the importance of the work University Presses publish.

Nearly a hundred members of the Tucson community came out for the occasion and were treated to touching tributes from Miller’s long-time friends, James Reel and Eliana Rivero, as well as a taste of Cuban music from pianist Liudvik Luis Cutiño Cruz.

A brilliant raconteur and expert on Cuba, Miller was full of enthralling behind-the-scenes stories, including a humorous tale of the day Havana cops accused him of distributing copies of the United Nations Human Rights Declaration of 1948.

Thanks to the University of Arizona Libraries team, we’re proud to provide a full video of the event below.

Photos courtesy Tim Fuller

High Country News: In Line at the Great Wall

November 13, 2017

Author, poet, and Angeleno, Daniel A. Olivas is known for his provocative prose and cleverly crafted characters. Recently, High Country News featured an excerpt from his short story “In Line at the Great Wall,”  from his collection The King of Lighting Fixtures. In this story, Olivas imagines a future where anti-immigrant sentiment is enshrined in a border wall:

Rogelio stood in the long line that snaked from the detention center’s barracks to the lookout point at the other end of the compound. He shifted from foot to foot, the heat making him perspire and feel lightheaded. He was a smart boy — one of the best students in Ms. Becerra’s fifth-grade class — so he figured that even though the cool winter weather still made San Diego’s evenings chilly enough to need a sweater, the lack of circulation combined with the body heat of thousands of children conspired to make the detention center’s air heavy and almost suffocating.

Read “The Great Wall” in its entirety on High Country News.

Arizona Daily Star: Tom Miller Shows Us a Side of Cuba Tourists Rarely See

November 12, 2017

Following the release event for Tom Miller’s Cuba, Hot and Cold, the Arizona Daily Star honored the Tucson travel writer by running an excerpt of his piece “Cubana Be, Cubana Bop:”

Tucsonan Tom Miller first visited Cuba 30 years ago. He has returned often, writing about a Cuba most don’t get to see. His books include “Trading with the Enemy” and “Revenge of the Saguaro.” This is an excerpt from his latest, “Cuba, Hot and Cold:”

José Martí, leader of Cuba’s nineteenth-century independence movement, is said to have had a voice that sounded like an oboe. Perhaps that’s why the country has so many oboe players. I took oboe lessons in Havana when I lived there in the early 1990s and wrote about them at the time. I was hoping to improve my mediocre oboe skills acquired during junior high school, and frankly, I wanted to show readers that contemporary music in Cuba was more than just salsa and reggaeton. I succeeded with the latter, but far less with improving my ability. I even had trouble with the ducks in Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. And so I put my oboe on the top shelf in my Arizona office where it gathered desert dust. I’d glance up at it now and then with a sense of forlorn pride, reassuring myself that I owned a quality instrument that I once played with some gusto.

Read the full excerpt on the Arizona Daily Star.

University Press Week 2017

November 6, 2017

This week we celebrate University Press Week and the importance of scholarship alongside our peers in the Association of American University Presses.

Since 2012, the Association of American University Presses (AAUP) has celebrated University Press Week each year to help tell the story of how university press publishing supports scholarship, culture, and both local and global communities.

In today’s political climate—where “fake news” and “alternate facts” are believed by so many people—valuing expertise and knowledge can feel like a radical act.

University presses not only believe in facts and knowledge, but traffic in them daily, publishing approximately 14,000 books and more than 1,100 journals each year, read by people around the globe.

One of our greatest partners in this venture have been independent bookstores. For the past three years, we have been proud to collaborate with the University of Arizona Bookstores, Antigone Books, and Changing Hands, who have graciously built UP Week displays to showcase the diversity and far-reaching impact of our publishing program.

To all of our readers, reviewers, authors, contributors, and partners, thank you for celebrating with us and your continued dedication to promoting smart, fun, and valuable books that contribute to our rich reading community.#ReadUP

Shelf Awareness: The King of Lighting Fixtures

October 24, 2017

This morning, we were thrilled to see Daniel Olivas’s latest fiction collection The King of Lighting Fixtures reviewed by Shelf Awareness, who declared it, “a potpourri of formats and styles.” Shelf Awareness for Readers appears Tuesdays and Fridays and helps readers discover the 25 best books of the week, as chosen by booksellers, librarians and other industry experts:

In a helter-skelter cornucopia of voices and formats, the stories of Daniel Olivas’s King of Lighting Fixtures are set on the streets of Los Angeles, focusing on characters as diverse as the city. The collection cements his place in the magical realism tradition of García Márquez and Urrea, and showcases his skills as a master stylist and self-aware observer of life’s little vignettes. Grandson of Mexican immigrants, converted Jew in the Reformed tradition, Olivas (The Book of Want; Things We Do Not Talk About) works as a lawyer in the California Department of Justice and works miracles on the page. “He will have to call it ‘fiction’ otherwise he will be rejected by the publishing industry as a lunatic,” as Olivas writes of a character in “The Three Mornings of José Antonio Rincón” who wakes in different bodies on three consecutive days.

Read the full review on Shelf Awareness.

Frederick Luis Aldama in conversation with Daniel Olivas

October 21, 2017

This week,  Frederick Luis Aldama and Daniel Olivas, two of our very own Camino del Sol authors, came together to discuss matters of content and form in writing fictional borderlands. The conversation between the two prolific writers was the cover feature on Latin@ Literatures.

Established in the summer of 2016, Latin@ Literatures is an online source for contemporary discussion on Latina/o literature and culture seeking to provide a space for philosophical engagement in topics dealing with Latina/o culture.

An expert on Latinx popular culture, Frederick Luis Aldama is the author, co-author, and editor of twenty-nine books, including Long Stories Cut Short and, most recently, Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics. Aldama interviewed Olivas about the power of the written word in Latinx communities and his new collection of short stories The King of Lighting Fixtures:

FLA: Daniel, you are author and editor of numerous books and now you have a near simultaneous publication of your book of poetry, Crossing the Border (Pact Press) and a book of short fiction, The King of Lighting Fixtures (Camino del Sol). You are also a regular contributor to the Los Angeles Review of Books and work as a lawyer for the California Department of Justice in the Public Rights Division. What’s your secret?

DO: I don’t golf. And I’m a compulsive writer and editor. Perhaps it’s a disease.

FLA: You also edit La Bloga.

DO: Ah, but I share blogging duties with about a dozen wonderful writers.

FLA: While you studied literature at Stanford, you are largely self-taught as a creative writer.

DO: I refused to take creative writing classes while in college because I thought it’d be a frivolous thing to do. Little did I know that I’d embark on a writing career in middle age. But I’m happy I took the route I did. I enjoy being a lawyer, especially in serving the people of California.

Read the full Q&A feature on Latin@ Literatures.

Ohio State Professor Hopes to Inspire Diversity in Comic Movies

October 20, 2017

Bringing pop culture into the classroom, Frederick Luis Aldama, or as he has become known “Professor LatinX,” recently caught the attention of ABC’s Columbus news affiliate WSYX/WTTE. Camera crews joined Aldama at Ohio State University to see how he incorporates comic books into his curriculum and discuss his new book Latinx Superheroes in Mainstream Comics.

An Ohio State professor is designing a class around comic books.

While doing that, Frederick Luis Aldama is looking at why one demographic seems under-represented when the books are made into movies.

His latest book, “LatinX Superheroes in Mainstream Comics” explores the absence of Latino characters in comic book movies.

Watch the interview on Columbus, Ohio’s ABC 6.

Daniel A. Olivas Speaks with LA Times’s Agatha French

A second-generation Angeleno, Daniel Olivas practices law with the California Department of Justice in addition to being a prolific writer, book critic, and avid supporter of the Latinx literary community. Recently he talked with Agatha French, staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, about straddling two professions and his new book The King of Lighting Fixtures.

Daniel A. Olivas’ latest collection of short stories, “The King of Lighting Fixtures,” (University of Arizona Press, $16.95) opens with a character settling into his office at the Public Rights Division of the California Department of Justice. It’s a detail from which readers can expect a certain level of authenticity: Olivas, in addition to being the author of nine books, is an attorney there. (Public access to Malibu’s Carbon Beach? Olivas is, in part, to thank.)

“The King of Lighting Fixtures,” includes flash fiction, speculative fiction, magical realism and more traditional stories; what unites the work is a sense of place. Olivas is an L.A. writer, and he roots his work in L.A.

I spoke to Olivas over the phone about straddling two professions; being a longtime contributor to La Bloga, a website that showcases Latina/Latino literature and culture; and writing the final, dystopian story of his book.

Read the full Q&A feature in the Los Angeles Times.

Will the California Forest Fires Change Anything?

October 16, 2017

As we’ve all been consumed by the startling wildfires in California, the UA Press’s resident forest fire expert Stephen Pyne has been the man on-call for reporters on the ground. The author of the definitive history of American wildfires and the Press’s To The Last Smoke series, a multivolume series describing the nation’s fire scene region by region, Pyne provides a historical and administrative context for the devastation in California in a recent editorial picked up by Newsweek.

The fires that have blitzed across Napa-Sonoma have a claim on the rest of us because they are tragic, because they will require emergency assistance, and because what happens in California tends not to stay in California.

Most of California is built to burn: it has fires to match its mountains.

Unsurprisingly, fire protection as a formal program came early—a Board of Forestry in 1885; national forests in the 1890s; national parks in the Sierra Nevada under administration by the U.S. Cavalry.

In 1905 the U.S. Forest Service assumed control over the national forests and California passed a Forest Protection Act, leading to an ad hoc condominium that fused into a formal alliance with the 1911 Weeks Act.

Read Pyne’s full feature in Newsweek.

Esther Belin on Her Long-Awaited Second Collection

October 12, 2017

In anticipation for her upcoming book launch event at Maria’s Bookshop, Esther Belin sat down with The Durango Herald‘s Arts Editor Katie Chicklinkski-Cahill to discuss her sophomore poetry collection Of Cartography.

For Bayfield writer and artist Esther Belin, her new book of poems, Of Cartography, was a long time coming.

Belin, whose 1999 book From the Belly of My Beauty won the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, will be reading from and talking about her new book on Thursday at Maria’s Bookshop, 960 Main Ave.

Q: Tell me about Of Cartography – how long did it take to write?

A: I wrote it a long time ago. It took about seven years to edit. (Laughs) And part of it was just honestly finding the time: I have four kids and for me, it was primarily my focus, and I was working, so it was really hard to figure that out. It was … probably last summer is when I just took the time and said, “I need to finish this.”

Read the full Q&A feature on The Durango Herald.