Field Notes: Excavations of Paquimé’s Site 204

October 22, 2020

By Paul Minnis and Michael Whalen

Our research in northwestern Chihuahua focused on the area around the famous and important site of Paquimé (or Casas Grandes), which was most influential during the Medio Period, AD 1200–1450 (give or take a few decades either way). Over the past two decades, we directed multiple field projects in the region. At first, we conducted surveys, systematically walking over an area to record whatever archaeological remains were observable. Then we transitioned to the excavation of a range of sites in an attempt to understand how the Paquimé-dominated society was organized and when it dated to, among other questions.

One of the most important sites we studied—Site 204—is located west of Paquimé in a tributary drainage. We selected this site because it was one of the two largest Medio Period sites near Paquimé, so we could compare it with the small villages we studied at one end of a continuum of size and the premier and largest site, Paquimé, at the other extreme.

1a. before excavation

Image 1a: Site 204 is located in a small valley that also has a large number of Medio Period villages. The atalaya is a feature on a hilltop that probably was a shrine and communication point visible from Cerro Moctezuma, which is just west of Paquimé. Cerro Moctezuma was probably one of the major shrines in the local area.

1b. before excavation

Image 1b: Site 204 has three “mounds” that are the remains of adobe room blocks that have decayed over the centuries into piles of dirt. There are three mounds for a total of about two hundred rooms. In addition, this site has two large ritual roasting pits and a ball court. Like nearly all Medio Period sites, the room blocks have been severely looted.

2 first day

Image 2: The first day of excavation is always exciting and, in a way, terrifying. Questions go through your mind: What is below the ground, what will you find, or did you start in the best place to excavate?

3a. excavated rooms
3b. excavated rooms

Image 3a & 3b: Excavating using a precise grid system, you slowly find walls and outline rooms. Then you remove the fill in the room in layers, carefully screening the dirt so as not to miss small artifacts. Unfortunately, much of each room has been looted, which mixes the artifacts. Finally, there’s the reward: the excavation of the floor and its features such as hearths and pits. You are not actually done after excavating, mapping, and photographing the rooms: the area below the room is excavated to look for evidence of earlier occupation.

3c. ball court trench

Image 3c: Ball courts were important locations of community events. Site 204 has one ball court that had been dug into the ground forming an I-shape. We also excavated a trench across the ball court.

3d. hillside fields

Image 3d: Not all archaeological features are visually interesting or obvious. The faint lines of rocks are rock walls (trincheras) that form small farming plots. The hillside above Site 204 is filled with these features, as are many hillslopes in the Casas Grandes region. While most were farmed by small families, a few seem to have been cacique or chief fields, controlled by leaders and worked by the populous.

4a. stairs

Image 4a: Although not common, we excavated several stairs at the six sites we studied.

4b. closed T-door

Image 4b: T-shaped doorways are common and likely had important ritual significance. This example is of a T-shaped doorway that was filled to block it off as part of the room’s renovation.

4c. ritual room

Image 4c: Most rooms at sites in the Casas Grandes region appear to have been used as domestic space where people lived their daily lives. We did excavate some that appear to have had ritual use. This room originally had two columns, and some are artifacts. As you can see, the open space between the columns were closed with a later wall. Also present is a T-shaped door at the far end of the room. The many asymmetrical holes in the floor are the bottom of looters’ holes, an ever-present factor in studying Medio Period sites.

4d corn cobs

Image 4d: The value of archaeological remains are not determined by their aesthetic appeal or rarity. These charred corn cobs are not especially beautiful, but they help tell us about how the people lived. There is evidence that important community events that drew people from throughout the Casas Grandes area required massive amount of food for feasts.

4e. stone face

Image 4e: Figures and effigies are common from the Casas Grandes region. While this artifact obviously is a human head, we don’t know what it meant to the ancient peoples of the region.

4f. parrot burial

Image 4f: One of the most remarkable activities was the raising of macaws. This is the only macaw skeleton we found in our excavations. It was in a subfloor pit, probably an offering dedicating the room.

4g. pendant
4h. turquoise

Image 4 G: This pendant may be of a macaw, a parrot, or another bird.

Image 4h: Turquoise is quite rare in Casas Grandes sites, compared to other sites in the U.S. Southwest and northwestern Mexico.

4i. plain ware vessel

Image 4i: This is a reconstructed pot. Although most attention is on the beautiful and iconic Ramos Polychrome ceramic, most clay vessels were plain like this one.

5 lab work

Image 5: Survey and excavation are the best known parts of archaeological research, but at least an equal amount of time is spent in the laboratory analyzing the materials removed during fieldwork.

6 crew friendships

Image 6: One wonderful outcome of being on an archaeological project is that you often develop friendships that last a lifetime . . . literally. This is especially delightful among crews from different countries or regions within a country. Here, one of our crews with members from Mexico, the Unites States, and Canada enjoy a day off visiting the famous cliff dwelling site, Cueva de la Olla, with it enormous granary located in the mountains west of Paquimé.

The Prehispanic Ethnobotany of Paquimé and Its Neighbors is the first large-scale investigation of the prehispanic ethnobotany of this important ancient site and its neighbors. Paul Minnis and Michael Whalen examine ethnobotanical relationships during Medio Period, AD 1200–1450, when Paquimé was at its most influential. Based on two decades of archaeological research, this book examines uses of plants for food, farming strategies, wood use, and anthropogenic ecology. The authors show that the relationships between plants and people are complex, interdependent, and reciprocal. This volume documents ethnobotanical relationships and shows their importance to the development of the Paquimé polity.

Paul E. Minnis is a professor emeritus of anthropology at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author or editor of twelve books and numerous articles. He has been president of the Society of Ethnobiology and treasurer and press editor for the Society for American Archaeology, and he is co-founder of the Southwest Symposium.

Michael E. Whalen is a professor emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Tulsa. He has published a series of books, monographs, chapters, and journal articles on Oaxaca, western Texas, and northwestern Chihuahua. His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society.


All images in the post are copyright the authors.

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.

June 24, 2024

Diné geographer Andrew Curley, author of Carbon Sovereignty: Coal, Development, and Energy Transition in the Navajo Nation, discusses “The Colorado River and the Colonial Blindspot” as part of the “Natural History for a World in Crisis” series. This panel discussion, moderated by Beka Economopoulos, is the first in the year-long series produced by the The Natural History Museum. Curley is joined by Teresa Montoya (Diné), Traci Brynne Voyles, and Erika M. Bsumek, to explore the impact of colonial intrusions and challenge the audience into seeing “colonial blindspots” in the water crisis.

“We tend to focus on this issue of climate change, when really there’s never been enough water for settler designs. And each time there’s a new infrastructure built onto the river’s tributaries, it’s satisfying a temporary problem that is quickly overwhelmed by more and more settlers. It’s the nature of settler colonialism in the region.”

Andrew Curley, in The Colorado River and the Colonial Blindspot

Watch or read the transcript of the full video here. This link also includes an additional video: “Rethinking the Water Paradigm with Andrew Curley.”

Curley is a member of the Navajo Nation and an assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment at the University of Arizona. He has studied the social, cultural, and political implications of coal mining in the Navajo Nation, and his latest research is on the environmental history of water diversions on the Colorado River and the impact of colonial infrastructures on tribal nations.

About Carbon Sovereignty:

This comprehensive new work offers a deep dive into the complex inner workings of energy shift in the Navajo Nation. Geographer Andrew Curley, a member of the Navajo Nation, examines the history of coal development within the Navajo Nation, including why some Diné supported coal and the consequences of doing so. He explains the Navajo Nation’s strategic choices to use the coal industry to support its sovereignty as a path forward in the face of ongoing colonialism. Carbon Sovereignty demonstrates the mechanism of capitalism through colonialism and the construction of resource sovereignty, in both the Navajo Nation’s embrace and its rejection of a coal economy.

Excerpt from “Indigenous Health and Justice”

June 18, 2024

Colonial oppression, systemic racism, discrimination, and poor access to a wide range of resources detract from Indigenous health and contribute to continuing health inequities and injustices. These factors have led to structural inadequacies that contribute to circular challenges such as chronic underfunding, understaffing, and culturally insensitive health-care provision. Nevertheless, Indigenous Peoples are working actively to end such legacies.

In Indigenous Health and Justice, edited by Karen Jarratt-Snider and Marianne O. Nielsen, contributors demonstrate how Indigenous Peoples, individuals, and communities create their own solutions. Chapters focus on both the challenges created by the legacy of settler colonialism and the solutions, strengths, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples and communities in responding to these challenges. It introduces a range of examples, such as the ways in which communities use traditional knowledge and foodways to address health disparities. Read an excerpt from the book’s first chapter “Indigenous Peoples’ Involvement in the U.S. Justice System, Trends, Health Impacts, and Health Disparities” below.

To more fully grasp the significance of strides made in recent decades to introduce Indigenous cultural and spiritual practices into correctional facilities, these practices must be understood within the context of colonialism. The Indigenous experience with settler-colonial states through systemic means of oppression is a long one. Countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia have historically passed and upheld national and state or provincial laws aimed at dismantling Indigenous cultural identities and traditions through religious suppression—instituting bans on practices and rites expressive of Indigenous spirituality, obstructing access to sacred sites, and outlawing possession of ceremonial objects such as peyote and sacred pipes (Irwin 2006).

Attempting to simplify Indigenous religious beliefs and practices for generalizable consumption is a daunting and nearly impossible task. Generally, most Indigenous Peoples around the world view their everyday cultural ways of being and living as being spiritually purposeful and significant. Hence, culture and spirituality (or religious practice) are inextricably connected because one structures the other. Unlike Euro-Western notions of religion, which impose a separation between God and the world we exist in, Indigenous spirituality and religious orientations see a Creator or multiple sacred deities as a part of the world. This difference in the perception of religion and the human relationship to the “holy” is but one aspect of the Othering process employed by Westerners to cast Indigenous Peoples as primitive, ahistorical, unsophisticated, uncivilized, unstable, and savage nonhumans. This was a means to justify colonial tactics of genocide (e.g., subjugation of Indigenous Peoples, atrocious acts of violence, removal from homelands, and cultural assimilation) that were employed in order to lay claim to Indigenous land and natural resources for the establishment of settler-colonial expansion, wealth, and prosperity (Nielsen and Robyn 2019).

Indigenous individuals have only been granted U.S. citizenship within the last century through the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, which also conferred the right to vote. After that, it took another half century before all Native citizens were afforded protection of the right to practice their religious, spiritual, and cultural beliefs, with the 1978 passage of the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (AIRFA). Between 1993 and 2000, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) were passed to increase these protections. Regarding RFRA and RLUIPA, a guidance document produced by the Native American Rights Fund (2016) and intended for Indigenous people in correctional facilities explains, “Both statutes prevent the government from substantially burdening [an inmate’s] religious practice unless it has a compelling reason to do so in [the inmate’s] particular case,” and that prisons may only burden or hinder religious practices if they have “no other, less restrictive alternatives available.” Admittedly, this is a very condensed presentation of some of the historical strides made by the U.S. government to suppress and then protect and preserve Indigenous traditional religious beliefs and practices, but this contextual information is pertinent for understanding the advances made from the 1960s forward.

The 1960s and 1970s marked a social movement in the United States that was pushing for the right of Indigenous individuals who were incarcerated to exercise their Native religious practices. In the early 1960s, Clyde Bellecourt, an Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) man, met a young Anishinaabe spiritual leader named Eddie Benton-Banai when they were both serving time in Minnesota’s Stillwater prison (Reha 2001). Bellecourt and Benton-Banai, known for their founding roles in the American Indian Movement, formed the American Indian Folklore Group while incarcerated, to help incarcerated Indigenous people heal by learning about Native history, epistemologies, culture, and spirituality through pan-Indian frameworks (Tighe 2014). Tighe (2014, 5) describes this effort as a “model for Indian cultural renaissance within prisons.” Bellecourt affirms that ceremonies are an integral component of the healing process that can support individuals involved in the criminal justice system to make positive changes in their lives, and credits how establishing a spiritual base in his own life helped him to overcome his battle with alcoholism (Reha 2001).

With the aid of the Native American Rights Fund, one of the oldest and largest legal organizations committed to defending the legal rights of Indigenous people and nations, Indigenous individuals incarcerated in Nebraska won a federal court consent decree in Wolff v. McDonnell (1974), which allowed them to practice their religious and cultural beliefs in prison. This opened the way in Nebraska for sweat lodges to be conducted, Native clubs and spiritual collectives to be formed, and elders to serve as spiritual advisors and cultural-based counselors inside correctional facilities (Irwin 2006). Irwin (2006, 42) notes that the consent decree “established an important precedent for native prisoners in other states.”

Traction on this issue continued to grow in other parts of the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Incarcerated Indigenous people were increasingly bringing suits against prison administrators for denying their rights to religious freedom. In the Southwest, the Navajo Nation appointed a Navajo spiritual advisor who eventually was conducting ceremonies in nineteen prisons throughout the region (Echo-Hawk 1996). Incarcerated Indigenous women formed a spiritual organization within a Montana state prison in the early 1990s and perceived their unification as threatening to prison staff (Ross 1998). As a way of weakening the close bonds formed through the organization, the women felt staff strategically targeted Indigenous women who were labeled as “troublemakers” and then written up for “trumped-up charges” (Ross 1998, 243) which resulted in their transfer to a maximum-security facility. White women incarcerated in prison interviewed by Ross also noticed the same pattern, identifying it as “prejudiced” practice (265). At that time, Indigenous women made up 25 percent of the prison population while making up 6 percent of the Montana state population. In addition to the institutional discrimination experienced by incarcerated Indigenous women, Ross (278) notes the direct racist remarks about “Indians” and “Indian culture” made by prison staff and incarcerated white individuals to her and incarcerated Indigenous individual. By the time RFRA was passed in 1993, a large number of successful suits were being filed by Indigenous individuals incarcerated in prison, who were protesting infringement of their religious and spiritual needs and advocating for the right to bring traditional tobacco pipe and sweat lodge ceremonies into the prison complex (Irwin 2006).

Octavio Quintanilla wins 2024 Ambroggio Prize for “Las Horas Imposibles / The Impossible Hours”

June 13, 2024

The Academy of American Poets has announced that Las Horas Impossibles | The Impossible Hours, written by Octavio Quintanilla and co-translated by Quintanilla and Natalia Treviño, was selected by Norma Cantú as the winner of the 2024 Ambroggio Prize, which is given annually for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winners receive $1,000 and publication by the University of Arizona Press, a nationally recognized publisher of emerging and established voices in Latinx and Indigenous literature. Previous winners include Mara Pastor, with translators María José Giménez and Anna Rosenwong; Margarita Pintado Burgos, with translator Alejandra Quintana Arocho; and Elizabeth Torres.

Cantú commented on the collection: “If this were a meal the various courses would delight my senses. With alacrity and wit the poet pokes and jokes at life and the elements that make human existence a conundrum. The inclusion of computer generated design-poems adds to the impact of the volume. The translator more than ably renders the original Spanish poems into an equally moving English, often opting for the unexpected translation.”

Octavio Quintanilla

Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collections If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014) and The Book of Wounded Sparrows (Texas Review Press, 2024). He is the founder and director of the literature and arts festival VersoFrontera; publisher of Alabrava Press; and former poet laureate of San Antonio, Texas. His visual poems Frontextos have been published and exhibited widely. He teaches literature and creative writing at Our Lady of the Lake University.

Born in Mexico, Natalia Treviño is the author of the poetry collection Lavando La Dirty Laundry (Mongrel Empire Press, 2014) and the chapbook VirginX (Finishing Line Press, 2018). Her awards include the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Wendy Barker Creative Writing Award, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Prize, the Menada Literary Award from Macedonia, and the San Antonio Artist Foundation Literary Prize. She is a professor of English at Northwest Vista College.

The 2025 Ambroggio Prize will be judged by Giannina Braschi and will be open for submissions from June 15, 2024, to September 15, 2024.

We are thrilled to be publishing this award-winning collection. Congratulations, Octavio!

***

About the Academy of American Poets

Founded in 1934, the Academy of American Poets is a leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters across the United States and beyond. The organization annually awards $1.3+ million to more than two hundred poets at various stages of their careers through its prize program, which includes the Poet Laureate Fellowships. The organization also produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; established and organizes National Poetry Month each April; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides free resources to K–12 educators, including the award-winning weekly Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition that promotes the value poets bring to our culture. To learn more about the Academy of American Poets, including its staff, its Board of Directors, and its Board of Chancellors, visit: https://poets.org.

Five Questions with Elizabeth Villalobos

June 11, 2024

Focusing on both Mexico’s northern and southern borders, Border Killers uses Achille Mbembe’s concept of necropolitics and various theories of masculinity to argue that contemporary Mexico is home to a form of necropolitical masculinity that has flourished in the neoliberal era and made the exercise of death both profitable and necessary for the functioning of Mexico’s state-cartel-corporate governance matrix. Today, author Elizabeth Villalobos answers questions about the work:

Your work engages with Mexican cultural production to better understand the violence along Mexico’s borders, both north and south. How did you come to this project?

The northern border of Mexico has always had primacy over the southern border in many ways, and there are many academic studies that have been done on the northern limits of the country as a geographical, political, social, economic, and cultural space. It was important for me to focus my research on this area because I grew up on the northern border, but at the same time, it seemed necessary to include the context of the southern border because of the lack of critical studies that examine the literature, theater, and film of both borders. I’ve always felt close to the south, where my father lives. In fact, this project originated even further south in Argentina, where I did research on human rights in the context of detention centers for the torture and extermination of about thirty thousand people in the last dictatorship between 1976 and 1983. I was able to interview survivors from these concentration camps, and one of them challenged me, saying, “What are you doing here when Mexico has its own killers?” That conversation set me off on the last twenty years of investigation of killers in Mexican cultural production.

You demonstrate how border violence was and is often misrepresented, dismissed, and sensationalized by popular Mexican news media. Therefore, one must turn to creative work to get a fuller understanding of the underlying forces resulting in violence. What are some of the works you discuss?

The book advances a theory of works that I call “interstitial narratives,” many created by artists born in the 1970s. Such narratives investigate the impact of neoliberalism in the Mexican border milieu with a distinctive approach to violence. These works are unlike the famous and much-studied narcocorridos and narcocinema that lionize the violence specialists of narcotrafficking cartels and replicate the iconography of narcoculture. In addition, they vary from la nota roja [blood-soaked journalism] that reproduces gory death ad infinitum in the news and media. Rather, my book argues that interstitial works have different aesthetic and ideological commitments. These works decenter cartels, place violence off stage or off the page, and are characterized by five qualities or topical concerns: refusal; spectrality; the flattening of cultural hierarchies; the failure of the state and its national imaginaries; and mass production in a neoliberal global order.

Some of the most well-known works from the eight cultural narratives that I discuss in my book in prose, theater, and film are the noir detective novel Partitura para mujer muerta by Vicente Alfonso, the play Ánima sola by Alejandro Román, and the documentary film La libertad del diablo by Everardo González.

This study is grounded in Achille Mbembe’s theorization of necropolitics, the idea that states profit by inflicting death on the many, including their own citizens. How are creative works demonstrating the real-world impacts of this idea in the borderlands?

These creative works abstain from graphic displays of violence to instead examine necropolitics and its connections with past forms of oppression. The interstitial narratives discussed in Border Killers tell us about the tragedies of workers in contemporary Mexico’s neoliberalism, in spheres such as maquiladoras, narcotrafficking, human trafficking, criminal gangs, the military, the police, and the sicariato [hired assassins]. While many scholarly works explore the perspectives of victims in Mexico’s cultural production, my book is one of a smaller number that investigate the perspective of the perpetrators, who are revealed to be victimizers and, in a sense, victims as well, trapped within collapsing possibilities for bettering their lives.

Your work underscores the important and sobering contributions of the arts in critiquing and drawing attention to violence and its impact on lives in the borderlands. What do you see as hopeful in this kind of work?

Art that is critical of the impact of neoliberalism in Mexico is devastating, but it is necessary to identify and reflect on the systems of violence that affect daily life in border areas. These works allow us to recognize the humanity of both victims and perpetrators and demystify the idea that assassins are merely monsters. We must face the reality that murderers are human beings who commit terrible acts but also have stories that deserve to be told and are capable of experiencing all the feelings of any other human being. So, this work is hopeful in that it allows us to see art as a weapon that can disarm the official and popularized discourses in the media about murderers, masculinity, and violence in Mexico and its borderlands.

What are you working on now?

At the moment, I’m working on a comparative study of documentary theater and film about life after the implementation of necropolitics in Argentina and Mexico. Writing Border Killers was a reaffirmation for me that one of my main interests in researching violence and human rights is in analyzing the different ways in which people are able to affirm life after being deeply affected by the terrifying conditions of extremely violent regimes. There is an increasing number of creative works in this vein that require wider dissemination and research within and outside of academia.

I’m also working on another project investigating the cultural semiotics of visual images of the transborder U.S.-Mexican space in photography, painting, graphic design, sculpture, and installation works by artists that integrate an interdisciplinary perspective about migration, ecocriticism, gender, and human rights.

***

Elizabeth Villalobos is an assistant professor of Spanish literature at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a scholar of Latin American literature and contemporary cultural production of Mexico and its border regions. She has conducted research on border studies and human rights in Mexico, Argentina, and Germany. Her research focuses on the intersections of gender, neoliberalism, and violence represented in prose, theater, and cinema of Mexico’s northern and southern border regions.


Association of University Presses Gives Design Honor to The University of Arizona Press

June 7, 2024

The Association of University Presses (AUPresses) selected the hard cover version of Rim to River: Looking Into the Heart of Arizona by Tom Zoellner, to be part of the 2024 Book Jacket and Journal Show. Leigh McDonald, Art Director and Book Designer at The University of Arizona Press, designed the cover and the interior of the book. Porter McDonald created the cover illustration and interior illustrations. This book was honored in the category for 2024 Trade Typographic Selections. The full book jacket is pictured above.

The 2024 Book, Jacket and Journal Show will be on display at the AUPresses Annual Meeting in Montreal, June 11-14. The show will then be on tour for the next year, hosted by university presses in the United States and Canada. The University of Arizona Press will host the show; however, the date has not been finalized.

Victor Mingovits, one of the judges, said, “While some books immediately caught our eye and made the short list, others sparked lively discussions. We were particularly drawn to those designs that revealed their brilliance over time, prompting us to reconsider what makes a design truly successful. These unexpected gems left a lasting impression, drawing us back for more as their unique design unfolded with each reading.”

AUPresses advances the essential role of a global community of publishers whose mission is to ensure academic excellence and cultivate knowledge. The Association envisions a world that values the many ways that scholarship enriches societies, institutions, and individuals.

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Five Questions with Kelly McDonough

June 3, 2024

In Mexico today, the terms “Indigenous” and “science and technology” are rarely paired together. When they are, the latter tend to be framed as unrecoverable or irreparably damaged pre-Hispanic traditions⁠, relics confined to a static past. In Indigenous Science and Technology, Kelly McDonough works against such erroneous and racialized discourses with a focus on Nahua environmental engagements and relationalities, systems of communication, and cultural preservation and revitalization. Attention to these overlooked or obscured knowledges provides a better understanding of Nahua culture, past and present, as well as the entangled local and global histories in which they were—and are—vital actors. Today, we ask five questions of scholar Kelly McDonough:

This is a book about how Nahuas—native⁠ speakers of Nahuatl, the common language of the Aztec Empire and of more than 2.5 million Indigenous people today—have explored, understood, and explained the world around them in pre-invasion, colonial, and contemporary time periods. What started you on this work?

Thanks for asking! The project is a natural extension of my earlier work on Nahua intellectual history – I wanted to continue getting at what Nahua intellectual life was and is. I wanted to keep poking holes in the widely circulating myth that Nahua intellectual life was rich only prior to the Spanish invasion in the sixteenth century when it rapidly deteriorated. I definitely knew that “science” was a topic I wanted to dig into deeper when I was talking (ranting) to a colleague, and I said, “it drives me crazy when people say that Indigenous people do not have science!”

I’ve learned that most times when I say “it drives me crazy that…” (at least related to my work) it is likely an area of research I will enjoy and will feel worthwhile. Related to science, I wanted to draw attention to the many Nahua technological innovations I have seen in the archives and in person to disrupt another erroneous myth about “lack of technology” that still circulates today.

This is a deep dive into Nahua theoretical and practical inquiry related to the environment, as well as the dynamic networks in which Nahuas create, build upon, and share knowledges, practices, tools, and objects to meet social, political, and economic needs. What are some of your approaches to this research?

I took cues from lots of smart people from a variety of disciplines and fields to approach and think about Nahua science and tech. I ended up drawing a lot and creating multimedia diagrams on the walls to try to understand scholarship along with Nahua theories, networks, and layers of needs and interests all together in such a way that I could even attempt to write about them. But most importantly, I have had lengthy, ongoing conversations with Nahua friends and colleagues who are deeply concerned about how Nahua youth are barraged with messaging in mainstream educational settings and general discourses that tells them that only non-Indigenous people are thinkers and inventors.

You included what we called “interludes” between the chapters of short biographical sketches and interviews with contemporary Nahua scientists, artists, historians, and writers, accompanied by their photos. Why was this critical to this work?

The book would have been impossible without these individuals, their families, and communities; they have been wonderful, patient teachers who have guided and encouraged me. For example, Flor Hernández spent a full day showing me how backstrap weaving, from dying of yarns to the dance of the warp and weft is, in her words, physics. Baruc Martínez Díaz took me to work at his chinampa (raised lakebed garden), and talked for hours about all of the relationships among plants, animals, humans, and geographic features that inhabited the chinampas. And I was absolutely struck by how Abraham de la Cruz Martínez talked about his laboratory at work and his laboratory in the corn field.  I also wanted to include their words and photographs to hammer on the idea that Nahua brilliance is still in action, not stuck in a static past. The interludes or “interruptions” are also meant to avoid any notion of a lineal, chronological march toward “progress.”

What advice would you offer to up-and-coming scholars embarking on their own projects?

We all have such different temperaments and work styles, so I’ll just say that for me it was time well spent talking to people and reading about workflows and practices related to the craft of writing. I have a tried-and-true system for dealing with everything from naming conventions of files to how I take notes (I subject my poor graduate students to a 5-page description of said system every year). But some people would hate that – it really is about finding what works best for you. It has also been immensely helpful to have a writing partner. I’ve been working with the same person since 2016. We don’t do anything elaborate, we just check in on most days on Slack and share a sentence or two about our plan for our writing session(s) that day. For me, the accountability is good, the articulation of reasonable and measurable writing goals is practical, and the ability to share doubts, irritations, breakthroughs, small victories, and ugly first drafts as they come along indispensable.

What are you working on now?

My next monograph deals with 400 years of Indigenous justice in the town of Cholula in the state of Puebla, Mexico. My team has been digitizing the town’s judicial archive, once thought to have burned in the Mexican Revolution, for five years. Cholula was one of nine “Indian Cities” in colonial Mexico, which meant they had a unique juridical personality and relationship to the king of Spain. This archive gives an unprecedented view of what that mean in day-to-day practice during the colonial period, but also transitions when, for example, Mexico became independent from Spain or during the Porfirian dictatorship at the end of the twentieth century. I’m really interested in how Nahuas interpreted the changing laws, how they influenced the implementation of new ones, and how they used evolving notions of “justice” (or not) to their benefit.

Before jumping into that project, I have two smaller ones right now: one is an oral history project with Nahua women in the diaspora (within Mexico and beyond) and the other is an article that was meant to be a chapter in the book, but I didn’t get to it in time. For now, it is called “Sky Stories:” it is about how Nahuas have explained and related to what is understood to be in or part of the sky – clouds, planets, sun, moon, stars, meteors, ancestors, gods, and so on. 

***

Kelly S. McDonough is an associate professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Program in Native American and Indigenous Studies at The University of Texas at Austin. She is also the author of The Learned Ones: Nahua Intellectuals in Postconquest Mexico.

MALCS Summer Institute 2024

The University of Arizona Press is proud to be a MALCS 2024 sponsor! We’re offering a special discount on all of our books for MALCS attendees. Use AZMALCS24 on our website or for call-in orders to get 35% off all our books from 6/23/24 to 7/25/24.

In their own words, Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS) “is a volunteer professional organization for self-identified Chicana, Latina, Native American / indígena mujeres and gender non-conforming academics, students, and activists.”

For the last 40 years, MALCS has hosted a summer institute bringing together this vital group to engage “feminist intersectionality, social justice, empowerment, and healing.” For their 41st year, MALCS is in Oaxaca, México, and the theme is “De Aquí y de Allá: Reclaiming Our Indigenous Lineages and Serving Future Generations.” The institute will be held June 24-27, 2024.

Below, read about some of our recent and forthcoming titles in Latinx Studies, Indigenous Studies, Gender & Women’s Studies, Border Studies, and more.

Founded in 1997, Mujeres de Maiz (MdM) is an Indigenous Xicana–led spiritual artivist organization and movement by and for women and feminists of color. Chronicling its quarter-century-long herstory, editors Amber Rose GonzálezFelicia ‘Fe’ Montes, and Nadia Zepeda collect diverse stories with attention to their larger sociopolitical contexts. Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento: Spiritual Artivism, Healing Justice, and Feminist Praxis crosses conventional genre boundaries through the inclusion of poetry, visual art, testimonios, and essays.


Have you ever wanted a writing and research manual that centered Chicanx and Latinx scholarship? Writing that Matters does just that. While it includes a brief history of the roots of the fields of Chicanx literature and history, L Heidenreich and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz emphasize practice: how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx history paper; how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx literature or cultural studies essay; and how to conduct interviews, frame pláticas, and conduct oral histories. It also includes a brief chapter on nomenclature and a grammar guide. Each chapter includes questions for discussion, and all examples from across the subfields are from noted Chicanx and Latinx scholars.


The topic of mothers and mothering transcends all spaces, from popular culture to intellectual thought and critique. In Frontera Madre(hood): Brown Mothers Challenging Oppression and Transborder Violence at the U.S.-Mexico Border, editors Cynthia Bejarano and Maria Cristina Morales collect essays from thirty contributors that bridge both methodological and theoretical frameworks to explore forms of mothering that challenge hegemonic understandings of parenting and traditional notions of Latinx womxnhood. It articulates the collective experiences of Latinx, Black, and Indigenous mothering from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.


Edited by Norma Elia Cantú, Chicana Portraits: Critical Biographies of Twelve Chicana Writers pairs portraits with critical biographies of twelve key Chicana writers, offering an engaging look at their work, contributions to the field, and major achievements. Arranged chronologically by birth order of the authors, the book can be read cover to cover for a genealogical overview, or scholars and general readers can easily jump in at any point and read about an individual author, regardless of the chronology.

May 29, 2024

Mark Brodie of KJZZ public radio in Phoenix interviewed Stephen J. Pyne, author of Pyrocene Park: A Journey Into the Fire History of Yosemite National Park. Pyne says that the Yosemite fire story is a story of good fire that was lost, but has now been partly restored. He believes that the restoration of good fire should inform fire management on other federal lands.

“It’s not just the ecological deterioration that results when fire is removed. I mean, fire is a broad spectrum ecological catalyst. It does a lot of things. We’re still learning about all the things that it does. But it’s also a case of if you don’t burn it, stuff keeps building up, combustibles accumulate and the fires that you do get will be uncontrollable. So it, you’re removing your choice, your ability to choose what fires you want and what you don’t.”

Listen or read the full interview here.

Stephen Pyne, KJZZ interview


Pyne is a fire historian, urban farmer, and emeritus professor at Arizona State University. He spent fifteen seasons with the North Rim Longshots, a fire crew at Grand Canyon National Park. Out of those seasons emerged a scholarly interest in the history and management of fire and he has written over thirty books. His most recent book is Five Suns: A Fire History of Mexico (2024).

About Pyrocene Park:

Its monumental rocks, etched by glaciers during the last Ice Age, have made Yosemite National Park a crown jewel of the national park system and a world-celebrated destination. Yet, more and more, fire rather than ice is shaping this storied landscape. Renowned fire historian Pyne argues that the relationship between fire and humans has become a defining feature of our epoch, and he reveals how Yosemite offers a cameo of how we have replaced an ice age with a fire age: the Pyrocene.

“Mujeres de Maiz” Editors Featured on Imagine Otherwise podcast

May 28, 2024

Imagine Otherwise podcast host Cathy Hannabach interviewed Amber Rose González, Felicia Montes, and Nadia Zepeda, editors of Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento: Spiritual Artivism, Healing Justice, and Feminist Praxis. In the conversation, Amber, Felicia, and Nadia share their journey with the Mujeres de Maiz organization and the collective liberation the group is building. Traversing poetry, performance, zines, healing ceremonies, visual art, autoethnography, and a plethora of other mediums, these scholars demonstrate the power of collaboration and intersectional solidarity. They explore how the Mujeres de Maiz book publishing process builds on their longstanding practices of making publishing more accessible and collaborative, embodying the political and ethical commitments found across their art and activism as well.

And so I think that’s the beauty of Mujeres de Maiz. It allows us to practice the relationships that we want to see. It allows us to live in our full beingness. It allows us to undo some of the harmful ideologies and harmful ways of being that we’ve inherited. I think we’re working toward it by living it and providing opportunities for other people and inviting them into that.

Amber Rose González, Imagine Otherwise podcast

Listen to the full episode here.

About the book:

Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento: Spiritual Artivism, Healing Justice, and Feminist Praxis‘ political-ethical-spiritual commitments, cultural production, and everyday practices are informed by Indigenous and transnational feminist of color artistic, ceremonial, activist, and intellectual legacies. Contributors fuse stories of celebration, love, and spirit-work with an incisive critique of interlocking oppressions, both intimate and structural, encouraging movement toward “a world where many worlds fit.”

The multidisciplinary, intergenerational, and critical-creative nature of the project coupled with the unique subject matter makes the book a must-have for high school and college students, activist-scholars, artists, community organizers, and others invested in social justice and liberation.

Five Questions with Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo

May 23, 2024

Growing Up in the Gutter: Diaspora & Comics is the first book-length exploration of contemporary graphic coming-of-age narratives written in the context of diasporic and immigrant communities in the United States by and for young, BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and diasporic readers. The book analyzes the complex identity formation of first- and subsequent-generation diasporic protagonists in globalized rural and urban environments and dissects the implications that marginalized formative processes have for the genre in its graphic version. Today, author Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo answers our questions:

What were some of your favorite books growing up?

I’m a 90’s kid, so I loved Harry Potter. It’s atrocious that one needs to follow up that statement with the necessary: but I hate what J.K. has done with her fame to hurt the people I love and my friends. But before all the bigotry went down, my 11-year-old self loved HP. And fiction belongs to the reader anyway. Ron Weasley was my first crush. As a queer, bullied kid, I dreamed of getting a letter and what amounts to an 11-inch, phoenix-feather-cored weapon to bludgeon the world into a kinder place.

Despite how different our worlds were—I grew up in Mexico City—HP did for me what coming-of-age novels have done for many, for centuries. It saved me. It enabled me to escape, to figure out how to grow up, to find my (fictional) people. I grew up with them, alongside them.

I loved the books that explained me to me.

I loved Looking For Alaska because it explained to me why my friend in high school didn’t want to live anymore. I loved Demian because it showed me the world outside and because it ends with the first gay kiss I ever imagined; the idea of boys kissing was unintelligible. I loved Aura because it was so creepy, and it talked directly to me. I loved A Hundred Years of Solitude because it was sweaty and erotic—which blew away my young mind.

I’m so lucky I got to read a lot of different things.

Why do you think the coming-of-age (COA) construction resonates so strongly?

Because we’re all growing up all the time!

There is nobody, big or small, who is not constantly negotiating who they are and what their place in the world is. I agree with Stuart Hall that identity is always a process, always in flux. We know that instinctively about ourselves, whether we meet the flux with resistance, patience, or joy.

We want to see others in flux. We want to know how other people are building themselves, we want to see our struggles mirrored. More than mere pleasure (although infinitely important), seeing how others grow and negotiate what it means to be an adult is necessary. We need these stories like we need to rebel against our parents, like we need to love whom we love, like we need to fight, explore, and try. Coming-of-age stories are for me, the best antidote to despair.

And collectively, we recognize the value of young people finding those admirable and heroic role models. Why else do we insist our kids read To Kill a Mockingbird if we don’t want them to learn compassion from Scout, or The Diary of a Young Girl to learn bravery from Anne? Or, for that matter, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass or Beloved if we don’t want them to fight tooth and nail against injustice?

These stories enable us to ponder who we want to be—individually and collectively!

How do you hope students, scholars, and instructors use this work?

GUITG is a flexible text. The language is welcoming for students without previous knowledge of either the coming-of-age genre or comix. Even if you have never read any theory about either, this book is designed to be accessible and fun.

Yet, if you are already a fan, you’ll find new connections to issues of identity, diaspora, queerness, and immigration that you’ll hopefully find inspiring.

Go to the index or list of works cited to get an idea of the extensive literature on comix produced in the last few years.

I’ve had stimulating conversations with instructors who want to use graphic media to engage in “difficult” conversations with students (about race, class, the gender gap, etc.) but don’t know where to begin. GUITG aims to answer that question by putting theory to work: providing examples of close readings and illustrations of visual analysis.

Use it as a textbook for an upper level seminar. Use individual chapters to explore how comix address gender, performativity, queerness-as-magic, police brutality, diaspora, and national identity.

I truly hope scholars use it, abuse it, and destroy it. It should make Bildungsroman scholars (particularly those who think it’s an exclusively European genre) very uncomfortable.

What graphic COA narratives are you looking forward to reading next?

I’m currently teaching an undergrad graphic COA narratives class! We’re reading Persepolis, Genderqueer, The Low Low Woods, and American Born Chinese through the lens of growing up and negotiating adulthood. Re-reading these with students is reading them for the first time, finding new connections because of their particular curiosities. 

Personally, I am very curious about comix and graphic media produced and distributed in places that have not traditionally been associated with the medium. In other words, I really want to know what is going on with comix in non-American and non-Japanese markets. I am not sure yet where this will take me.

What is your next writing project?

I am working on an edited volume titled The Post-Bildungsroman: Coming of Age at the Margins to fully dismantle the notion that the genre should be European or a project of a white, middle-class, able-bodied, heteronormative Enlightenment. I want to open the genre to study underrepresented and previously non-canonical voices that either engage with the likes of Charles Dickens and James Joyce or who completely disregard them. I hope this will be a launching point for studies about graphic media, videogames, manga, and other productions that challenge preconceived notions of the Bildungsroman.

Additionally, I am working on personal essays. To provide an example of what I’m thinking, I am very curious about how we can engage with young heterosexual men to prevent them from sympathizing with alt-right and/or neo-fascist ideologies and mindlessly consuming their podcasts, books, and shows.

***
Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo (@ric_writes_books) is an assistant professor at Rhode Island College. He is the author of Children of Globalization: Diasporic Coming-of-age Novels in Germany, England, and the United States. He studies migration and diasporas in narratives about youth development in the context of globalized and de facto multicultural societies. His essays have appeared in Literary Geographies, Norteamérica, the North Meridian Review, and Chasqui, and in several edited volumes. He grew up in Mexico City.

Space Science Collection Now Open Access

May 15, 2024

The University of Arizona Press is thrilled to offer a new collection on our open access (OA) platform Open Arizona, featuring fourteen works from The University of Arizona Space Science Series.

The Space Science collection makes available again the work of leaders in their fields, including Richard P. Binzel, Tom Gehrels, Mildred Shapley Matthews, and many others. These works provide an important archive of a pivotal time in several emerging fields connected to astronomy and the space sciences. The books were originally published between 1976 and 2000.

Since 1974, the University of Arizona Press has published exceptional works in the field of space science. The volumes in The University of Arizona Space Science Series bring together the world’s top experts, who lay out their foundational research on current understandings, while also building frameworks for the highest-priority questions for the future. Since 2000, books in the Space Science Series have been produced in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas.

About each title:

Asteroids
Originally published in 1979, this is a comprehensive source and textbook on asteroids by 70 authors covering exploration, composition, evolution, and the interrelations with other small solar system bodies. It also includes an extensive file of all known asteroid parameters including magnitudes, colors, proper elements and compositional types.

Asteroids II
This sourcebook brings together our knowledge about asteroids based on a gather during the week of March 8-11, 1988 with more than 160 scientists from 14 countries who gathered in Tucson for the Asteroids II conference. Asteroids II offered a fresh treatment intended to stand on its own as a complete description of the understanding of the field at the time. It was first published in December 1989. The work showcases a large international collaboration, a sign of an active and growing discipline.

Jupiter
When Jupiter was first published in August, 1976, editor T. Gehrels wrote, “we may never do a better book.” Summarizing the research and data following the first flyby of Jupiter in December 1973, this work brings together the knowledge of the best scientists in the fields at the time of it’s publication. The work covers the origin of Jupiter, origin and structure of its satellites, models of Jupiter, comparison of those models, and much more.

Meteorites and the Early Solar System
First published in November 1988, this work provided a coherent narrative about the known understandings of meteorites and the early solar system. From the original publication, “Although the Earth was formed, together with the other planets, at the birth of the solar system, geological activity has since erased all but a hint of the processes that accompanied its formation. If we wish to explore the processes that occurred in the earliest solar system, and the nature of the environment in which they took place, we must turn to the record contained in more primitive material. This book provides a synthesis of what has been learned so far about the earliest stages of solar system history through the study of meteorites, and what, given our current level of understanding, remains to be learned.”

Planetary Rings
At the time of its publication, the editors wrote, “it is our hope that this book will become out-of-date quickly, that new observations and theoretical connections will continue to revolutionize our knowledge of planetary rings.” Published in 1985, Planetary Rings brought together scientists from a variety of disciplines to the study of planetary rings to provide a textbook for graduate students and researchers in related fields. It introduced newcomers to the subject and addressed issues at the forefront of ring research at the time.

Planetary Satellites
Published in 1977, this source book on natural satellites brings together thirty-four distinguished contributors from various fields of satellite astronomy to offer a thorough examination of Orbits and Dynamical Evolution.

Protostars and Planets
Originally published in 1979, at the time of it’s publication this work was a unique source book on star formation and the origin of planetary systems from some 35 distinguished authors. Topics include the formation of stars from the cloudy to the stellar to the planetary state. Special emphasis on stars believed capable of producing planets. This foundational work sought to define a new discipline and set the course for the University of Arizona Space Science series.

Protostars and Planets II
Based on meetings held in Tucson, Arizona in 1984, this volume brought up-to-date recent advances and research on the cosmogony of stars and planets. This book presents the written thoughts of the principle speakers (and their colleagues) from the 1984 meeting. It continues work started in 1978 to investigate the problems of star formation and the formation of the solar system.

Protostars and Planets III
Previous Space Science Series volumes Protostars and Planets (1978) and Protostars and Planets II (1985) were among the most timely offerings of this illustrious collection of technical works. Protostars and Planets III continues to address fundamental questions concerning the formation of stars and planetary systems in general and of our solar system in particular. Drawing from advances in observational, experimental, and theoretical research, it summarizes our understanding of these processes and addresses major open questions and research issues. Among the more notable subjects covered in the more than three dozen chapters are the collapse of clouds and the formation and evolution of stars and disks; nucleosynthesis and star formation; the occurrence and properties of disks around young stars; T Tauri stars and their accretion disks; gaseous accretion and the formation of the giant planets; comets and the origin of the Solar-System; and the long-term dynamical evolution and stability of the solar system.

Protostars and Planets IV
This title, out of print in 2008, is now available open access. Both a textbook and a status report for every facet of research into the formation of stars and planets, Protostars and Planets IV brings together 167 authors who report on the most significant advances in the field since the publication of the previous volume in 1993. Protostars and Planets IV reflects improvements in observational techniques and the availability of new facilities such as the Infrared Space Observatory, the refurbished Hubble Space Telescope, and the 10-m Keck telescopes. It include chapters describing the discoveries of extrasolar planets, brown dwarfs, and Edgeworth-Kuiper Belt objects, and the first to include high-resolution optical and near-infrared images of protoplanetary disks.

Resources of Near-Earth Space
Originally published in 1993, this work is available again. From the original publication,”A base on the Moon, an expedition to Mars. . . . Some time in the near future, for scientific or cultural reasons, humanity will likely decide to pursue one of these fantastic ventures in space. How can we increase the scope and reduce the cost of these ambitious activities? The parts of the solar system that are most accessible from Earth—the Moon, the near-Earth asteroids, Mars and its moons—are rich in materials of great potential value to humanity. Resources of Near-Earth Space explores the possibilities both of utilizing these materials to produce propellants, structural metals, refractories, life-support fluids, and other materials on site to reduce the costs of space exploration, and of providing a source of materials and energy for our own planet that would not be environmentally destructive to Earth.”

Satellites of Jupiter
Originally published in 1982, here is the description from the original publication: “The findings of Voyager have brought Jupiter’s moons out from the shadows. Now as much of interest to geologists as to astronomers, these satellites are brought under closer scrutiny by more than 50 international authorities in this volume. Included is research on thermal evolution, surface composition, cratering time scales, and other subjects; but also key chapters focusing on the satellite Io’s volcanic eruptions, thermodynamics, phase composition and more. These 24 contributions constitute a reference that will stand as the decade’s definitive work on Jupiter’s satellites and a springboard to further hypotheses.”

Saturn
Originally published in 1984, here is the description from the original publication: “The Saturn system is the most complex in the solar system, and this book is to summarize it all: the planet, rings, satellites, the magnetospheres, and the interaction with the interplanetary medium. The effective date of the material is approximately November 1983.”

The Galaxy and the Solar System
Originally published in 1986, this work came out of a conference held in Tucson, Arizona in January 1985 which explored the influence of the Galaxy on the solar system. The meeting was the first get-together of the galactic and solar system scientific communities. At the time, the conversations covered new and sometimes controversial topics. This work presented the latest research and stimulated new research and ideas.

Author Mike Anastario on “Agents of Change” Podcast

May 13, 2024

The Agents of Change in Environmental Justice podcast interviewed Mike Anastario, co-author of Kneeling Before Corn: Recuperating More-than-Human Intimacies on the Salvadoran Milpa. The book’s co-authors are Elena Salamanca and Elizabeth Hawkins. Anastario talks about their ethnographic research with corn farmers in El Salvador and how this evolved from focusing on the relationship between plants and people, to the impact of agrichemicals on the environment and human health. Listen to the podcast on Environmental Health News.

About the book:

Kneeling Before Corn focuses on the intimate relations that develop between plants and humans in the milpas of the northern rural region of El Salvador. It explores the ways in which more-than-human intimacies travel away from and return to the milpa through human networks. Collective and multivocal, this work reflects independent lines of investigation and multiple conversations between co-authors—all of whom have lived in El Salvador for extended periods of time. Throughout the six chapters, the co-authors invite readers to consider more-than-human intimacies by rethinking, experimenting with, and developing new ways of documenting, analyzing, and knowing the intimacies that form between humans and the plants that they cultivate, conserve, long for, and eat. This book offers an innovative account of rural El Salvador in the twenty-first century.

New OA Titles: The Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition

May 8, 2024

The University of Arizona Press is thrilled to feature a new collection on our open access platform Open Arizona, featuring new and previously published works on the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition.

In the fall of 1886, Boston philanthropist Mary Tileston Hemenway sponsored an archaeological expedition to the American Southwest. Directed by anthropologist Frank Hamilton Cushing, the Hemenway Expedition sought to trace the ancestors of the Zuñis with an eye toward establishing a museum for the study of American Indians. In the third year of fieldwork, Hemenway’s overseeing board fired Cushing based on doubts concerning his physical health and mental stability, and much of the expedition’s work went unpublished. Today, however, it is recognized as a critical base for research for southwestern archaeology.

The volumes in this collection examine the expedition through the diaries and writings of those who participated. These books are part of the Southwest Center Series, an ongoing partnership between the University of Arizona Press and the Southwest Center, which is a research unit of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences of the University of Arizona.

The titles in this new featured collection are available for online reading or downloading from Open Arizona, the press’s OA portal. Learn more about each title:

On a Trail of Southwest Discovery
Edited by Curtis M. Hinsley and David R. Wilcox, print publication April 2024
This final volume examines the Hemenway Southwestern Archaeological Expedition, directed by Frank Hamilton Cushing, through the diaries of two participants who fell in love on the expedition: the field secretary, Fred Hodge—who became a major figure in early twentieth-century anthropology—and the expedition artist, Margaret Magill. Divided into three parts, the book’s first two sections chronicle the field operations of the expedition, while the third part describes the anthropological career of Hodge after the end of the expedition.



The Lost Itinerary of Frank Hamilton Cushing
Edited by Curtis M. Hinsley and David R. Wilcox, print publication May 2002
This second installment of a multivolume work on the Hemenway Expedition focuses on a report written by Cushing—at the request of the expedition’s board of directors—to serve as vindication for the expedition, the worst personal and professional failure of his life. Reconstructed between 1891 and 1893 by Cushing from field notes, diaries, jottings, and memories, it provides an account of the origins and early months of the expedition. Hidden in several archives for a century, the Itinerary is assembled and presented here for the first time.

The Southwest in the American Imagination
Edited by Curtis M. Hinsley and David R. Wilcox, print publication May 1996
This work is the first installment of this multivolume work, which presents a cultural history of the Hemenway Expedition and early anthropology in the American Southwest, told in the voices of its participants and interpreted by contemporary scholars.

***
About the authors
Curtis M. Hinsley is Regents’ Professor Emeritus of history at Northern Arizona University. He has written widely on American cultural history and the history of American anthropology.

David R. Wilcox was a senior research archaeologist and special assistant to the deputy director at the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Stephen Pyne Warns about the Pyrocene in Scientific American

May 6, 2024

Stephen J. Pyne explains our present and future in “We Are Living in the Pyrocene—At Our Peril,” in the May 2024 issue of Scientific American.

Pyne reviews three cycles of fire on the Earth. “First fire” is nature’s fire, where for millions of years, lightning was the overwhelming source of ignition. By the 1880s in the United States, humans were responsible for the vast majority of burning. Indigenous people used fire for hunting, foraging, and general land maintenance. As Pyne explains, “Newcomers, too, had a fire heritage that they hauled across the Atlantic, one embedded in agriculture and pastoralism.” These human-handled fires are the “second fire,” used to make a landscape more inhabitable for people. By the end of the 19th century, the industrial revolution and the transition to combustion fire to power machinery marked “third fire.” Third fire burns fossil fuel and dominates Earth today. At the same time, humans tried to control “first fire,” wildland fires caused by lightning strikes. But, Pyne argues, “We have too little good fire. Restoring fire is tricky.”

Pyne writes in Scientific American:

Today we live in a fire age in which ancient prophecies of worlds destroyed and renewed by fire have become contemporary realities, even for people living in modern cities. In the summer of 2023 millions of residents of New York City and other metropolises saw dark-orange daytime skies thick with smoke palls from Canadian wildfires— and breathed in the effluent. Mythology has morphed into ecology.

Read the complete article here.

Pyne is a fire historian, urban farmer, and emeritus professor at Arizona State University. He spent fifteen seasons with the North Rim Longshots, a fire crew at Grand Canyon National Park. Out of those seasons emerged a scholarly interest in the history and management of fire and he has written over thirty books. His two most recent books are Five Suns: A Fire History of Mexico (2024) and Pyrocene Park (2023).

About Five Suns: A Fire History of Mexico:

A climate defined by wet and dry seasons, a mostly mountainous terrain, a biota prone to disturbances, a human geography characterized by a diversity of peoples all of whom rely on burning in one form or another: Mexico has ideal circumstances for fire, and those fires provide a unique perspective on its complex history. Narrating Mexico’s evolution of fire through five eras, Pyne describes the pre-human, pre-Hispanic, colonial, industrializing (1880–1980), and contemporary (1980–2015) fire biography of this diverse and dynamic country.

About Pyrocene Park:

Its monumental rocks, etched by glaciers during the last Ice Age, have made Yosemite National Park a crown jewel of the national park system and a world-celebrated destination. Yet, more and more, fire rather than ice is shaping this storied landscape. Renowned fire historian Pyne argues that the relationship between fire and humans has become a defining feature of our epoch, and he reveals how Yosemite offers a cameo of how we have replaced an ice age with a fire age: the Pyrocene.

May 2, 2024

Last week was the 2024 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies conference in San Francisco. Thank you to the authors, editors, contributors, and new friends who spent time at our booth. Check out the photos and feel the vibe.

If you weren’t able to visit us at the conference, there’s still time to order the books we had on display. Get 35% off with discount code AZNACCS24 at checkout until 5/25/24.

Thanks to everyone who came by to say hello, browse books, and talk with us at the conference!

Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento panel features editors Amber Rose González, Felicia ‘Fe’ Montes, Nadia Zepeda, and several contributors to the book.

Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz, co-author with L Heidenreich of Writing That Matters, shows off her new copies of Pasadena Before the Roses and La Plonqui.

Mary Reynolds, publicity manager at the University of Arizona Press, joins authors Michelle Téllez and Rafael Martínez. Michelle holds her book, Border Women and the Community of Maclovio Rojas. Rafael holds flyer for our BorderVisions series; his book Illegalized will be the first in this series in October 2024!

Left photo: Mexican American Studies represent! with associate professor Michelle Téllez and program coordinator Lucia Echeverria Madera. Right photo: Authors Rita Urquijo-Ruiz and Yvette Saavedra sign books for each other.

L Heidenreich and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz prepare to sign Writing That Matters: A Handbook for Chicanx and Latinx Studies.

La Plonqui fans flank editor Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez.

Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento editors and a future mujer de maiz.

Authors and editors signing books and one dog named Quilla, who wishes she could read all of our books!

Five Questions with Stephen J. Pyne about ‘Five Suns’

April 29, 2024

Narrating Mexico’s evolution of fire through five eras—pre-human, Indigenous, colonial, industrializing (1880–1980), and contemporary (1980–2015)—Stephen J. Pyne’s newest work Five Suns offers a comprehensive fire history of Mexico. Today, the author answers five questions about this work.

What do the five suns of the title stand for?
Every 52 years the Aztecs celebrated the ceremony of the New Fire to ensure that a new sun would arrive to replace the extinction of the old. All fires everywhere would be extinguished, and at midnight a new fire would be kindled on a sacrificial victim atop the Cerro de Estrella, then distributed throughout the countryside. In Aztec history, five New Fires had birthed five new suns. I use the ceremony to organize the five eras of Mexican fire history, each of which had a characteristic fire that diffused throughout the land.

Almost everywhere in Mexico fire is possible, and most everywhere inevitable. What makes Mexico so combustible?
Mexico has plenty to burn—the annual cycle of wet and dry seasons guarantees that stuff can grow and then be readied to combust. It has ample ignition—lightning is abundant, and humans use fire deliberately and accidentally with hardly a pause. All this makes fire a constant in most of the country, though the regimes of burning change with land use, the ebb and flow of climate, the coming and going of species and peoples, and the reorganizations of the countryside. Over the last century, Mexico has used its vast reservoirs of oil to convert a significant fraction of that burning into the combustion of fossil fuels, with both national and global consequences.

Why do you write that Mexico has become one of the top ten “firepowers” in the world?
Since colonial times, officials distrusted and condemned burning, even though most Mexican agriculture, which was the basis for the bulk of Mexican societies, required fire at some point, and though the authorities were mostly incapable of ending the fires they loathed and criminalized. In the 1980s, links developed to the United States fire community that helped to revolutionize Mexico’s capacity to manage fire, to study it scientifically, and to upgrade policies to embrace a more ecological and holistic conception of fire’s management. By 2020 Mexico’s capabilities ranked it among the ten most robust nations on the planet for engaging with fire.

What makes Mexico’s approach to fire management so unique?
Mexico’s history is not unique. Its colonial experience was pretty much typical throughout the European imperium. By the 1970s, however, led by the U.S. and Australia, a vision of fire exclusion—which was a bad idea and never successfully implemented for long—was replaced by a conception of integrated fire management, which sought to move fire protection beyond emergency responses and to promote fire’s active management, not least through the use of deliberate burning. Mexico’s long heritage of fire and the persistence of traditional uses, once they were recognized as potentially good practices, has given it a strength that countries without that kind of inheritance lack. Instead of dragging Mexico backwards, much of its traditional fire lore could help it leap into the future.

What are you working on now?
Pyrocene Park, published by the University of Arizona Press in 2023, narrated a fire history of Yosemite National Park, which can be imagined as a story of good fire lost and partially restored. I wanted a complementary book that would look at the problems with bad fire, that is, trying to manage damaging fires with very little environmental or social space to maneuver. The Tonto National Forest—two of whose signature peaks I can see outside my window—offers a marvelous study in the complexity of contemporary fire programs. I’m using the 2021 Telegraph fire as an organizing device.
***

Stephen J. Pyne is a fire historian, urban farmer, and emeritus professor at Arizona State University. He spent 15 seasons with the North Rim Longshots, a fire crew at Grand Canyon National Park. Out of those seasons emerged a scholarly interest in the history and management of fire, with major surveys for America, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Europe (including Russia), and the Earth. From that career, Pyne has developed the notion of a Pyrocene, a human-driven fire age.

April 26, 2024

Last week was the 2024 Society for American Archaeology conference in New Orleans, Louisiana! We want to thank the many authors, editors, contributors, and new friends who spent time at our booth. Check out the photos below to get a glimpse of this wonderful gathering.

If you weren’t able to visit us at the conference, there’s still time to order the books we had on display. Get 35% off with discount code AZSAA24 at checkout until 5/19/24.

Our booth in the exhibit hall at the New Orleans Marriott Hotel, located just outside the French Quarter.
Senior Editor Allyson Carter with Nancy Parezo (A Marriage Out West) and Shelby Tisdale (No Place for a Lady)
Samuel Duwe, author of Tewa Worlds, beside his son, the youngest conference attendee at SAA!

Thanks to everyone who came by to say hello, browse books, and talk with us at the conference!

Writing Westward Podcast Interviews Andrew Curley

April 25, 2024

Writing Westward podcast host, Brenden W. Rensink, interviewed Andrew Curley, author of Carbon Sovereignty: Coal, Development, and Energy Transition in the Navajo Nation. Curley is a member of the Navajo Nation and an assistant professor in the School of Geography, Development & Environment at the University of Arizona.

During the interview, Curley said:

If we think about coal as not just an existential environmental question, but as a commodity that’s produced, what do we find through that analytical entry point? That’s where we find the consumers of this, the utilities and their constituents–ratepayers or state corporate commissions–all those entities and people who structure and limit what is possible, even in terms of energy production for tribes.

Listen to the full interview here.

About the book:

For almost fifty years, coal dominated the Navajo economy. But in 2019 one of the Navajo Nation’s largest coal plants closed.

This comprehensive new work offers a deep dive into the complex inner workings of energy shift in the Navajo Nation. Geographer Andrew Curley, a member of the Navajo Nation, examines the history of coal development within the Navajo Nation, including why some Diné supported coal and the consequences of doing so. He explains the Navajo Nation’s strategic choices to use the coal industry to support its sovereignty as a path forward in the face of ongoing colonialism. Carbon Sovereignty demonstrates the mechanism of capitalism through colonialism and the construction of resource sovereignty, in both the Navajo Nation’s embrace and its rejection of a coal economy.

John P. Schaefer to Bring “Desert Jewels” to Downtown Tucson

April 23, 2024

The Southern Arizona Heritage & Visitor Center will host renowned Tucson photographer, author, and University of Arizona President Emeritus John P. Schaefer for a book signing. He will sign his book, Desert Jewels: Cactus Flowers of the Southwest and Mexico on May 14, at 11 a.m., at the Visitor Center in the Historic Pima County Courthouse, 115 N Church Ave., in downtown Tucson.

Cactus flowers are jewels of the desert—they add brilliant pops of color to our arid surroundings. In Desert Jewels, photographer Schaefer brings the exquisite and unexpected beauty of the cactus flower to the page. Hundreds of close-up photographs of cactus flowers native to the U.S. Southwest and Mexico offer a visual feast of color and texture, nuance and light.

These stunning photographs allow us to appreciate the spectacular range of color and form cactus flowers have to offer. The book offers a glimpse into Schaefer’s process for capturing these elusive desert gems. His beautiful photographs were featured as a book of stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

About the author
John P. Schaefer had an active twenty-one-year career in teaching and research at the University of Arizona. A conservationist and avid birdwatcher, he helped organize the Tucson Audubon Society and founded the Nature Conservancy in Arizona. In addition to his academic and conservation work, Dr. Schaefer is a skilled photographer and author of several books on photography, including A Desert Illuminated: Cactus Flowers of the Sonoran Desert. He and Ansel Adams founded the Center for Creative Photography at the University of Arizona in 1975.

April 22, 2024

We had a great time at the 2024 Latinx Studies Association’s Annual Meeting in Tempe, Arizona, last week. Sincerest thanks to everyone who visited our table!

If you weren’t able to visit us at the bookfair, there’s still time to order the books we had on display. Get 35% off with discount code AZLSA24 at checkout until 5/18/24.

Check out the photos of the event below!

Co-editors Jesús Rosales and Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez with their work La Plonqui: The Literary Life and Work of Margarita Cota-Cárdenas, along with forthcoming author Rafael A Martínez, author of Illegalized: Undocumented Youth Movements in the United States.

Author Michelle Téllez with her books Border Women and the Community of Maclovio Rojas
Autonomy in the Spaces of Neoliberal Neglect
and The Chicana Motherwork Anthology.

Co-editors Natalia Deeb-Sossa and Jennifer Bickham Mendez with their book Latinx Belonging: Community Building and Resilience in the United States.

Co-editors Nadia Zepeda and Amber Rose González sign copies of their book Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento: Spiritual Artivism, Healing Justice, and Feminist Praxis.

Lisa Magaña, author of Empowered!: Latinos Transforming Arizona Politics, and Editor-in-Chief Kristen Buckles

Author and series editor Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez and Editor-in-Chief Kristen Buckles discuss the new series BorderVisions during a panel on publishing.

2024 NACCS Conference: Signings, Discounts, and New Books

April 22, 2024

We are thrilled to be attending the 2024 National Association for Chicana and Chicano Studies Conference in San Francisco, California this week! From April 24 to 27, find our table at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square to purchase books and meet our authors in-person.

We’re also thrilled to have a number of University of Arizona Press authors signing books at our table this year! Take a look at the schedule below to find out where and when you can meet them and get your books signed. You can also meet Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez and Yvette J. Saavedra, the editors of our BorderVisions series, on Thursday, 4/25 from 3:00-3:30 PM.

Finally, we’ll be selling a curated selection of our new, featured, and popular Chicana/o/x Studies and Latina/o/x Studies titles at a special conference discount of 35%. If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our table, we’ve got you covered: enter AZNACCS24 at checkout on our website for 35% off all titles through 5/25/24.

Book Signing Schedule

Thursday, April 25

10:30-11:30 AM: Michelle Téllez, author of Border Women and the Community of Maclovio Rojas

1:00-2:00 PM: L Heidenreich and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz, authors of Writing that Matters

2:00-3:00 PM: Amber Rose GonzálezFelicia ‘Fe’ Montes, and Nadia Zepeda, editors of Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento: Spiritual Artivism, Healing Justice, and Feminist Praxis

Friday, April 26

9:30-10:30 AM: Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez, co-editor of La Plonqui: The Literary Life and Work of Margarita Cota-Cárdenas

New & Featured Chicano/a/x and Latina/o/x Studies Titles

Have you ever wanted a writing and research manual that centered Chicanx and Latinx scholarship? Writing that Matters does just that. While it includes a brief history of the roots of the fields of Chicanx literature and history, L Heidenreich and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz emphasize practice: how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx history paper; how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx literature or cultural studies essay; and how to conduct interviews, frame pláticas, and conduct oral histories. It also includes a brief chapter on nomenclature and a grammar guide. Each chapter includes questions for discussion, and all examples from across the subfields are from noted Chicanx and Latinx scholars. Women’s and queer scholarship and methods are not addressed in a separate chapter but are instead integral to the work.

Founded in 1997, Mujeres de Maiz (MdM) is an Indigenous Xicana–led spiritual artivist organization and movement by and for women and feminists of color. Chronicling its quarter-century-long herstory, Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento weaves together diverse stories with attention to their larger sociopolitical contexts. The book crosses conventional genre boundaries through the inclusion of poetry, visual art, testimonios, and essays. The multidisciplinary, intergenerational, and critical-creative nature of the project coupled with the unique subject matter makes the book a must-have for high school and college students, activist-scholars, artists, community organizers, and others invested in social justice and liberation.

Growing Up in the Gutter offers new understandings of contemporary graphic coming-of-age narratives by looking at the genre’s growth in stories by and for young BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and diasporic readers. Through a careful examination of the genre, Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo analyzes the complex identity formation of first- and subsequent-generation migrant protagonists in globalized rural and urban environments and dissects the implications that these diasporic formative processes have for a growing and popular genre.

Author Karina Alma offers a systemic method and artistic mode for unpacking social and political memory formation that resists dominant histories. Central American Counterpoetics responds to political repression through acts of creativity that prioritize the well-being of anticolonial communities. Building on Toni Morrison’s theory of rememory, the volume examines the concept as an embodied experience of a sensory place and time lived in the here and now. By employing primary sources of image and word, interviews of creatives, and a critical self-reflection as a Salvadoran immigrant woman in academia, Alma’s research breaks ground in subject matter and methods by considering cultural and historical ties across countries, regions, and traditions. The diverse creatives included explore critical perspectives on topics such as immigration, forced assimilation, maternal love, gender violence, community arts, and decolonization.

In Indigenous Science and Technology:
Nahuas and the World Around Them
, author Kelly S. McDonough addresses Nahua understanding of plants and animals, medicine and ways of healing, water and water control, alphabetic writing, and cartography. Interludes between the chapters offer short biographical sketches and interviews with contemporary Nahua scientists, artists, historians, and writers, accompanied by their photos. The book also includes more than twenty full-color images from sources including the Florentine Codex, a sixteenth-century collaboration between Indigenous and Spanish scholars considered the most comprehensive extant source on the pre-Hispanic and early colonial Aztec (Mexica) world.

Featured Series

BorderVisions engages the U.S.-Mexico borderlands’ dynamic histories and cultures and expands our understanding of the borderlands beyond a site of geopolitical inquiry. The series conceptualizes borderlands as both a place and a methodology and addresses the constraints of traditional fields, challenging authors to think creatively and critically about the expansive frameworks and possibilities of borderlands studies.

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.

Latinx Pop Culture is a new series that aims to shed light on all aspects of Latinx cultural production and consumption as well as the Latinx presence globally in popular cultural phenomena in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

The Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies series anchors intellectual work within an Indigenous framework that reflects Native-centered concerns and objectives. Series titles expand and deepen discussions about Indigenous people beyond nation-state boundaries, and complicate existing notions of Indigenous identity.

Arizona Crossroads explores the history of peoples and cultures, events and struggles, ideas and practices in the place we know today as Arizona.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? For questions or to submit a proposal to any of these series, please contact Editor-In-Chief Kristen Buckles at KBuckles@uapress.arizona.edu.

Excerpt from “Restoring Relations Through Stories”

April 19, 2024

This insightful volume delves into land-based Diné and Dene imaginaries as embodied in stories—oral, literary, and visual. Like the dynamism and kinetic facets of hózhǫ́,* Restoring Relations Through Stories takes us through many landscapes, places, and sites. Renae Watchman introduces the book with an overview of stories that bring Tsé Bitʼaʼí, or Shiprock Peak, the sentinel located in what is currently the state of New Mexico, to life. The book then introduces the dynamic field of Indigenous film through a close analysis of two distinct Diné-directed feature-length films, and ends by introducing Dene literatures.

While the Diné (those from the four sacred mountains in Dinétah in the southwestern United States) are not now politically and economically cohesive with the Dene (who are in Denendeh in Canada), they are ancestral and linguistic relatives. In this book, Watchman turns to literary and visual texts to explore how relations are restored through stories, showing how literary linkages from land-based stories affirm Diné and Dene kinship. She explores the power of story to forge ancestral and kinship ties between the Diné and Dene across time and space through re-storying of relations. Read an excerpt from the book’s first chapter below.

Per Diné protocol, I open with a decolonial Diné approach, “kodóó hózhǫ́ dooleeł,” translated as “it begins in beauty” or “in beauty it begins.” Situated in northwest New Mexico, within the four sacred mountains, Tsé Bit’a’í means “Winged Rock,” “Rock with Wings,” or “Wings of Rock,” but is called Shiprock Peak (or just Shiprock). Tsé Bit’a’í is located on the outskirts of a reservation town formerly known in Diné bizaad (the Navajo language) as Naat’áanii Nééz (“tall leader”), but it is now called Shiprock too. The town is a flourishing reservation metropolis on the northern edge of the great Diné Nation, which spans the states of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Locals are primarily Diné. Historian Jennifer Nez Denetdale explains, “We call ourselves the Diné or The People. We also name ourselves Náhookah Diné (Earth Surface People) and Bilá’ ashdla’ (FiveFingered Ones).” Shiprock (the town) prides itself as the “Naashjizhii’ Capital of the World.” Naashjizhii’ is dried steamed corn. This designation of Diné culinary pride is featured on the cover of every issue of the annually published Shiprock Magazine, edited by Eugene B. Joe. The magazine is organized by the Shiprock Historical Society (est. 2010), whose aim is to preserve “the cultural significance of the town, the annual Northern Navajo fair and the historical growth of the community.”

Existence, presence, being, and places are reliant on names, but whose version of a place-name, whose toponym, matters? Shiprock is an English name that eclipses two distinct Navajo names: one a landmark, Tsé Bit’a’í; and the other a nearby reservation community, Naat’áanii Nééz. In N. Scott Momaday’s The Names: A Memoir (1976), he makes a grave error. He refers to “Shiprock, which is called in Navajo Naat’aaniineez [sic] (literally ‘tall chief’; the town takes its name from the great monolith that stands nearby in an arid reach of the San Juan Basin). The name Shiprock, like other Anglicizations in this region, seems incongruous enough, but from certain points of view—and from the air, especially—the massive rock Naat’aaniineez resembles very closely a ship at sea.” The tendency for settlers to claim and name lands that they are unfamiliar with is not surprising; however, Momaday lived in Shiprock from 1936 to 1943. That he would retell a settler’s account of the anglicization of Tsé Bit’a’í is surprising. This demonstrates the prominence of settler narratives eclipsing Indigenous ones. Furthermore, Momaday misunderstands the meaning of Naat’áanii Nééz, which does not literally mean “tall chief.” It literally means “tall leader” or “tall one who speaks.” In the context of Shiprock, the town’s name meant “tall boss,” to describe the height of William Taylor Shelton (1869–1944), who in 1903 was assigned as superintendent for the San Juan Indian Agency by “President Theodore Roosevelt to go to New Mexico and establish the Shiprock Reservation for the Navaho [sic].” Momaday also attributes the wrong Navajo name to the pinnacle and does not acknowledge the Diné name Tsé Bit’a’í. Even more troubling is that he completely ignores the traditional Diné stories about Tsé Bit’a’í and privileges an “incongruous” colonial version. In 1860, prior to the Navajo Long Walk to Fort Sumner, Captain J. F. McComb called Tsé Bit’a’í “The Needle.” The Needle was replaced by the English name Ship Rock (two words) in 1870 because non-Navajo settlers believed that it resembled a nineteenth-century “full-rigged sailing schooner.” This renaming reflects an unimaginative and nonsensical nautical nomenclature that further stripped Tsé Bit’a’í of her origin stories. Place naming, and naming in general, is significant to Diné and other Indigenous Peoples. A narrative of “place links present with past and our personal self with kinship groups. . . . Our knowledges cannot be universalized because they arise from our experience with our places. This is why name-place stories matter: they are repositories of science, they tell of relationships, they reveal history, and they hold our identity.” Margaret Kovach’s observations are relevant to Tsé Bit’a’í and the stories of her presence.

Georges Erasmus is Dene, or Tłįchǫ (Dogrib), from Behchokǫ̀ (which means “Big Knife” and replaced the town’s former name, Rae-Edzo) in the Northwest Territories. He advocated for restoration of Dene place-names and turned to Dene literary autonomy: “We made our own history. Our actions were based on our understanding of the world. With the coming of the Europeans, our experience as a people changed. We experienced relationships in which we were made to feel inferior. . . . They began to define our world for us. They began to define us as well. Even physically, our communities and our landmarks were named in terms foreign to our understanding. We were no longer the actors—we were being acted upon. We were no longer naming the world—we were being named.” This instance of Tsé Bit’a’í’s place-name is a case in point. This act of replacing and renaming our storied places interrupted the process of becoming hózhǫ́, affecting communities on both sides of the Medicine Line. If recognized at all, our stories have been dismissed as quaint storytelling and mythologizing. In thinking about Tsé Bit’a’í, my maternal family’s hometown mother, I am grappling with how the regenerative hane’ responds as a corrective.

2024 LSA Conference: Signings, Discounts, and New Books

April 16, 2024

We are thrilled to be attending the 2024 Latina/o/x Studies Association conference in Tempe this week! From April 17 to 20, find our table in the LSA Plaza, “a dynamic space to get together with long-time friends and colleagues—and find new ones—over coffee and conversation.” Navigation help and additional details are available on the LSA website.

We’re also thrilled to have some University of Arizona Press authors signing books at our table this year! Take a look at the schedule below to find out where and when you can meet our authors and get your books signed.

Finally, we’ll be selling a curated selection of our new, featured, and popular Latinx studies titles at a special conference discount of 35%. If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our table, we’ve got you covered: enter AZLSA24 at checkout on our website for 35% off all titles through 5/18/24.

Book Signing Schedule

Thursday, April 18

1:30-2:30 PM: Jesús Rosales and Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez, editors of La Plonqui: The Literary Life and Work of Margarita Cota-Cárdenas

2:30-3:30 PM: Michelle Téllez, author of Border Women and the Community of Maclovio Rojas

Friday, April 19

2:00-3:00 PM: Natalia Deeb-Sossa and Jennifer Bickham Mendez, authors of Latinx Belonging: Community Building and Resilience in the United States

Saturday, April 20

10:00-11:00 AM: Amber Rose GonzálezFelicia ‘Fe’ Montes, and Nadia Zepeda, editors of Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento: Spiritual Artivism, Healing Justice, and Feminist Praxis

New & Featured Latinx Studies Titles

Have you ever wanted a writing and research manual that centered Chicanx and Latinx scholarship? Writing that Matters does just that. While it includes a brief history of the roots of the fields of Chicanx literature and history, L Heidenreich and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz emphasize practice: how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx history paper; how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx literature or cultural studies essay; and how to conduct interviews, frame pláticas, and conduct oral histories. It also includes a brief chapter on nomenclature and a grammar guide. Each chapter includes questions for discussion, and all examples from across the subfields are from noted Chicanx and Latinx scholars. Women’s and queer scholarship and methods are not addressed in a separate chapter but are instead integral to the work.

Founded in 1997, Mujeres de Maiz (MdM) is an Indigenous Xicana–led spiritual artivist organization and movement by and for women and feminists of color. Chronicling its quarter-century-long herstory, Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento weaves together diverse stories with attention to their larger sociopolitical contexts. The book crosses conventional genre boundaries through the inclusion of poetry, visual art, testimonios, and essays. The multidisciplinary, intergenerational, and critical-creative nature of the project coupled with the unique subject matter makes the book a must-have for high school and college students, activist-scholars, artists, community organizers, and others invested in social justice and liberation.

While there is a long history of state violence toward immigrants in the United States, the essayists in this interdisciplinary collection tackle head-on the impacts of the Trump administration. This volume provides a well-argued look at the Trump era. Insightful contributions delve into the impact of Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies on migrants detained and returned, immigrant children separated from their parents and placed in detention centers, and migrant women subjected to sexual and reproductive abuses, among other timely topics. The chapter authors document a long list in what the book calls “Trump’s Reign of Terror.” Resistance and Abolition in the Borderlands is an essential reader for those wishing to understand the extent of the damage caused by the Trump era and its impact on Latinx people.

Growing Up in the Gutter offers new understandings of contemporary graphic coming-of-age narratives by looking at the genre’s growth in stories by and for young BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and diasporic readers. Through a careful examination of the genre, Ricardo Quintana-Vallejo analyzes the complex identity formation of first- and subsequent-generation migrant protagonists in globalized rural and urban environments and dissects the implications that these diasporic formative processes have for a growing and popular genre.

Kneeling Before Corn focuses on the intimate relations that develop between plants and humans in the milpas of the northern rural region of El Salvador. It explores the ways in which more-than-human intimacies travel away from and return to the milpa through human networks. Collective and multivocal, this work reflects independent lines of investigation and multiple conversations between co-authors—all of whom have lived in El Salvador for extended periods of time. Throughout the six chapters, the co-authors invite readers to consider more-than-human intimacies by rethinking, experimenting with, and developing new ways of documenting, analyzing, and knowing the intimacies that form between humans and the plants that they cultivate, conserve, long for, and eat. This book offers an innovative account of rural El Salvador in the twenty-first century.

Author Karina Alma offers a systemic method and artistic mode for unpacking social and political memory formation that resists dominant histories. Central American Counterpoetics responds to political repression through acts of creativity that prioritize the well-being of anticolonial communities. Building on Toni Morrison’s theory of rememory, the volume examines the concept as an embodied experience of a sensory place and time lived in the here and now. By employing primary sources of image and word, interviews of creatives, and a critical self-reflection as a Salvadoran immigrant woman in academia, Alma’s research breaks ground in subject matter and methods by considering cultural and historical ties across countries, regions, and traditions. The diverse creatives included explore critical perspectives on topics such as immigration, forced assimilation, maternal love, gender violence, community arts, and decolonization.

Featured Series

BorderVisions engages the U.S.-Mexico borderlands’ dynamic histories and cultures and expands our understanding of the borderlands beyond a site of geopolitical inquiry. The series conceptualizes borderlands as both a place and a methodology and addresses the constraints of traditional fields, challenging authors to think creatively and critically about the expansive frameworks and possibilities of borderlands studies.

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.

Latinx Pop Culture is a new series that aims to shed light on all aspects of Latinx cultural production and consumption as well as the Latinx presence globally in popular cultural phenomena in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

The Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies series anchors intellectual work within an Indigenous framework that reflects Native-centered concerns and objectives. Series titles expand and deepen discussions about Indigenous people beyond nation-state boundaries, and complicate existing notions of Indigenous identity.

Arizona Crossroads explores the history of peoples and cultures, events and struggles, ideas and practices in the place we know today as Arizona.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? For questions or to submit a proposal to any of these series, please contact Editor-In-Chief Kristen Buckles at KBuckles@uapress.arizona.edu.

2024 SAA Conference: Discounts, New Books, and More

April 15, 2024

We are thrilled to be attending the 89th annual meeting annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology this week in New Orleans! On April 17-21, find us at booth #203 and 205 to browse the University of Arizona Press’ latest archaeology titles and meet with Senior Editor Allyson Carter.

If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our booth, we’ve got you covered: use AZSAA24 for 35% off all titles.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? To learn more about publishing with us, click here.

New Archaeology and Anthropology Titles

El Fin del Mundo describes a remote desert corner of Sonora, Mexico where the first evidence of Paleoindian interactions with gomphotheres, an extinct species related to elephants, has been recorded. This site is the northernmost dated late Pleistocene gomphothere and the youngest in North America. It is the first documented intact buried Clovis site outside of the United States, the first in situ Paleoindian site in northwestern Mexico, and the first documented evidence of Clovis gomphothere hunting in North America. This volume also describes a paleontological bone bed below the Clovis level, which includes a rare association of mastodon, mammoth, and gomphothere.

The Spanish conquest of Peru was motivated by the quest for precious metals, a search that resulted in the discovery of massive silver deposits in what is now southern Bolivia. The enormous flow of specie into the world economy is usually attributed to the Spanish imposition of a forced labor system on the Indigenous population as well as the introduction of European technology. This narrative omits the role played by thousands of independent miners, often working illegally, who at different points in history generated up to 30 percent of the silver produced in the region. In Silver “Thieves,” Tin Barons, and Conquistadors, Mary Van Buren examines the long-term history of these workers, the technology they used, and their relationship to successive large-scale mining.

In the Mimbres Valley of southwestern New Mexico, archaeologists have been working for decades to meticulously excavate archaeological sites. Expanding beyond studies that focus on a single pueblo, Ancient Communities in the Mimbres Valley represents the final report on the excavations of the Mimbres Foundation. It brings together data from a range of pithouse and pueblo sites of different sizes and histories in diverse locations—to refine the current understandings of Mimbres region archaeology in the context of the Greater Southwest.

Focused on the coast near Puerto Peñasco, Sonora, Mexico, Coastal Foragers of the Gran Desierto examines the diverse groups occupying the coast for salt, abundant food sources, and shells for ornament manufacturing. The archaeological patterns demonstrated by the data gathered lead to the conclusion that, since ancient times, this coastal landscape was not a marginal zone but rather an important source of food and trade goods, and a pilgrimage destination that influenced broad and diverse communities across the Sonoran Desert and beyond.

Including research from both highland central Mexico and the tropical lowlands of the Maya and Olmec areas, Ancient Mesoamerican Population History reexamines the demography in ancient Mesoamerica. Contributors present methods for determining population estimates, field methods for settlement pattern studies to obtain demographic data, and new technologies such as LiDAR (light detecting and ranging) that have expanded views of the ground in forested areas. Contributions to this book provide a view of ancient landscape use and modification that was not possible in the twentieth century. This important new work provides new understandings of Mesoamerican urbanism, development, and changes over time.

Featured Series

The Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona is a peer-reviewed monograph series sponsored by the School of Anthropology. Established in 1959, the series publishes archaeological and ethnographic papers that use contemporary method and theory to investigate problems of anthropological importance in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and related areas. Selected volumes in the series are now open-access titles available through the University of Arizona Campus Repository.

The Archaeology of Indigenous-Colonial Interactions in the Americas is a series that highlights leading current research and scholarship focused on Indigenous-colonial processes and engagement throughout all regions of the Americas. The series builds on the success of its predecessor, The Archaeology of Colonialism in Native North America.

Amerind Studies in Anthropology is a series that publishes the results of the Amerind Seminars, annual professional symposia hosted by the Amerind Foundation in Dragoon, Arizona, and cosponsored by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). Series titles that emerge from these symposia focus on timely topics like the analysis of regional archaeological sites, current issues in methodology and theory, and sweeping discussions of world phenomena such as warfare and cultural settlement patterns.

Native Peoples of the Americas is an ambitious series whose scope ranges from North to South America and includes Middle America and the Caribbean. Each volume takes unique methodological approaches—archaeological, ethnographic, ecological, and/or ethno-historical—to frame cultural regions. Volumes cover select theoretical approaches that link regions, such as Native responses to conquest and the imposition of authority, environmental degradation, loss of Native lands, and the appropriation of Native knowledge and cosmologies. These books illuminate the strategies that Native Peoples have employed to maintain both their autonomies and identities. The series encourages the participation of Native, well-established, and emerging scholars as authors, contributors, and editors for the books.

For questions or to submit a proposal to any of these series, please contact Senior Editor Allyson Carter at acarter@uapress.arizona.edu.

Arizona KJZZ Interviews Anthony Macías

April 12, 2024

Anthony Macías was interviewed by Arizona’s KJZZ radio station about his book Chicano-Chicana Americana. Macías is a scholar of twentieth-century cultural history and a professor in the Ethnic Studies Department at the University of California, Riverside. Read the full interview here.

In the interview, Macías said, “These bit part actors that steal their scenes and manage to carve out some kind of success. I try to convey to a general audience the cultural studies notion that that representation matters, that how you see people and how you perceive them, impacts the way that you treat them and and their chances for upper mobility in the American dream.”

About the book:

Chicano-Chicana Americana is a cultural history of Mexican Americans in film, television, and theater. Through biographical sketches of performers such as Anthony Quinn, Katy Jurado, Robert Beltran, and Lupe Ontiveros, this work asserts Mexican Americans’ proper place in the national narratives of our collective imaginary. Conveying a multicentered, polycultural America, this book shows us intriguing performers in bit parts who steal the scene and redefine what it means to be American.

Excerpt from “We Stay the Same”

April 11, 2024

On a remote island in the South Pacific, the Lavongai have consistently struggled to obtain development through logging and commercial agriculture. Yet many Lavongai still long to move beyond the grind of subsistence work that has seemingly defined their lives on New Hanover, Papua New Guinea, for generations.

Following a long history of smaller-scale and largely unsuccessful resource development efforts, New Hanover became the site of three multinational-controlled special agricultural and business leases (SABLs) that combined to cover over 75 percent of the island for ninety-nine-year lease terms. These agroforestry projects were part of a national effort to encourage “sustainable” rural development by tapping into the growing global demand for agricultural lands and crops like oil palm and biofuels. They were supposed to succeed where the smaller-scale projects of the past had failed. Unfortunately, these SABLs resulted in significant forest loss and livelihood degradation, while doing little to promote the type of economic development that many Lavongai had been hoping for.

It is within this context that Jason Roberts’ “We Stay the Same” grounds questions of hope for transformative economic change within Lavongai assessments of the inequitable relationships between global processes of resource development and the local lives that have become increasingly defined by the necessities and failures of these processes. Read an excerpt from the book’s first chapter below.

New Hanover (Lavongai) is a relatively small, remote volcanic island located within New Ireland Province (NIP), Papua New Guinea (PNG). The island is 119,140 hectares in size, with a mountainous interior that can reach up to 1,000 m above sea level (Kaiku and Kaiku 2008). It is home to approximately 31,882 people, collectively called the Lavongai (PNG NSO 2021), who speak an indigenous language, Tungak, as well as one of the national languages of PNG—Tok Pisin. “Mipela stap olsem” is a Tok Pisin phrase that means “we live like this,” “we are like this,” or “we stay the same.” It is a phrase that I heard often during my time on New Hanover, normally when people would discuss issues related to economic development, or more likely, the lack of sustained development or positive material change on the island. In this way, the phrase was often used as an implicit critique of a subsistence lifestyle that many Lavongai presented as having existed relatively unchanged since time immemorial. At the same time, “mipela stap olsem” was also a critique of the structural forces that allowed some groups to achieve tremendous prosperity while others were seemingly destined for hardship and toil. While the Lavongai were only too familiar with the comparative affluence that outsiders like me enjoyed by mere circumstance of birth, they were also painfully aware that their own lives remained directly tied to the ground and the necessities of subsistence.

The Lavongai are, and always have been, self-sufficient. They make their living as shifting horticulturalists, producing a variety of food crops including staples such as taro (kirak), sweet potato (“kau”), banana (ur), cassava (“tapiok”), sago (ngavia), and greens (banga). People raise money for other necessities like salt, clothes, medicine, and school fees through the smallscale trade of cash crops like betelnut (vua) and mustard (sia), as well as surplus food crops. The work required to “find money,” therefore, is normally a difficult and slow task. Moving away from the rigors of subsistence living toward the anticipated prosperity of consumer-capitalist lifestyles has been, and continues to be, a prime objective for many Lavongai. Unfortunately, like other politically and economically marginal peoples throughout the world, their options for achieving development within the global market have been slim and poorly supported by successive colonial and national governments (Billings 2002; Tauvasa 1968/1969). Historically, what integration New Hanover has achieved within the global economy has been limited to the intermittent production and export of primary products such as copra, timber, and seafood.

In 2007, however, New Hanover became the site of three large-scale, multinational-controlled special agricultural and business leases (SABLs) that combined to cover approximately 79 percent of the island, for ninety-nine-year lease periods. These SABLs, like SABLs throughout PNG, were supposed to develop commercially viable agricultural plantations through the conversion of forested lands and the broad simplification of communal land tenure structures (95% of PNG’s land base), thought necessary to facilitate private investment (Filer 2011, 2012). SABL expansion throughout the country was part of a larger effort to promote national development and rural economic integration by combining the historically important logging and commercial agricultural industries in a way that would tap into the growing global demand for agricultural lands and crops like oil palm and biofuels (GoPNG 2011). These joint public-private development projects offered the Lavongai the opportunity to exchange timber and land rights for promises of fair-market timber royalties, commercial agricultural development, employment and job training, infrastructure improvements, and enhanced social service provisioning. As the New Ireland provincial administrator suggested above, this opportunity initially proved appealing for many Lavongai—particularly those in positions of decision-making power. People on the island had long been hoping for development to deliver these promises. SABLs seemed to offer a real path toward sustained global economic integration, as well as the social recognition that tends to go along with this integration. These projects appeared capable of succeeding where the smaller-scale, typically state-led projects of the past had failed.

As Abraham, a local landowner director in charge of representing the interests of his lineage group at Sulava village, as well as those of other Lavongai living within the 56,592-hectare Central New Hanover Limited SABL explained:

“The big motivation for making this [SABL] agreement was to improve life for the people of the island. Because we [PNG] got independence in 1975, and so far, there hasn’t been one good change for all of us who live here [on New Hanover]. We haven’t gotten one good service. From the time of the ancestors until now, we’ve stayed the same. There’s been no true development to come here because our government doesn’t work for us. New Hanover is a place where government has no mark. Our politicians only come around here at the time of elections. They make big talk with lots of big promises. Then we mark their names on the ballot and they go back [to town], and that’s where they stay. They forget about us—all of us who live out in the villages, out in the bush. They don’t work to create development for us like they say they will. All the government money that is supposed to be used for these things; it never turns out well. So, that’s why we finally decided that we must try to find a different road [to development]. That’s why we decided to bring the private sector to the island. We wanted the Company [Tutuman Development / Joinland Logging] to bring money, infrastructure, agriculture, and the savvy to help us develop.”

2024 NOAZ Book Festival: Discounts, New Books, and More

April 13, 2024

We are thrilled to be attending the 2024 Northern Arizona Book Festival (NOAZBF) in Flagstaff, AZ this week! On April 13, find our table in Heritage Square where we’ll have the University of Arizona Press’ latest Indigenous literature titles on sale for 35% off.

If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our table, we’ve got you covered: use AZNOAZ24 for 35% off all titles.

If you’re at the festival, don’t miss Assistant Editor Elizabeth Wilder, who is on an Indigenous Publishing Panel happening at 1:00 PM at the Theatrikos Theatre Company, 11 W Cherry Ave. See the full schedule of events for more details.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? To learn more about publishing with us, click here.

New Indigenous Literature Titles

Light As Light is acclaimed poet Simon J. Ortiz’s first collection in twenty years. The poems in this volume celebrate the wonders and joy of love in the present while also looking back with both humorous and serious reflections on youth and the stories, scenes, people, and places that shape a person’s life. Light As Light brims with giddy, wistful long-distance love poems that offer a dialogue between the speaker and his beloved. Written in Ortiz’s signature conversational style, this volume claims poetry for everyday life. The collection also includes prayer poems written for the speaker’s son; poems that retell traditional Acoma stories and history; and poems that engage environmental, political, and social justice issues—making for a well-rounded collection that blends the playful and the profound.

Elegiac and powerful, Ancient Light uses lyric, narrative, and concrete poems to give voice to some of the most pressing ecological and social issues of our time. With vision and resilience, Kimberly Blaeser’s poetry layers together past, present, and futures. Against a backdrop of pandemic loss and injustice, MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), hidden graves at Native American boarding schools, and destructive environmental practices, Blaeser’s innovative poems trace pathways of kinship, healing, and renewal. With an Anishinaabe sensibility, her words and images invoke an ancient belonging and voice the deep relatedness she experiences in her familiar watery regions of Minnesota.

The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature is unprecedented. It showcases the breadth, depth, and diversity of Diné creative artists and their poetry, fiction, and nonfiction prose.This wide-ranging anthology brings together writers who offer perspectives that span generations and perspectives on life and Diné history. The collected works display a rich variety of and creativity in themes: home and history; contemporary concerns about identity, historical trauma, and loss of language; and economic and environmental inequalities.

Featured Series

Sun Tracks, launched in 1971, was one of the first publishing programs to focus exclusively on the creative works of Native Americans. The series has included more than eighty volumes of poetry, prose, art, and photography by such distinguished artists as Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Simon J. Ortiz, Carter Revard, and Luci Tapahonso.

For questions or to submit a proposal to this series, please contact Assistant Editor, Elizabeth Wilder, at EWilder@uapress.arizona.edu.

LA Times Festival of Books Features Pelaez Lopez and Báez

April 3, 2024

Editor Alan Pelaez Lopez and Poet Diego Báez will be at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on Sunday, April 21. Pelaez Lopez, editor of When Language Broke Open: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Black Writers of Latin American Descent, will speak on “Everything Latinidad: Challenging the Myth of the Monolith.” They will speak on the Latinidad Stage, 4:00 – 4:40 p.m. Báez will read from his latest collection, Yaguareté White, on the Poetry Stage, 2:20 – 2:40 p.m. All festival events take place on the University of Southern California campus.

The Los Angeles Times Festival of Books began in 1996 with a simple goal: to bring together the people who create books with the people who love to read them. The festival was an immediate success and has evolved to include live bands, poetry readings, film screenings and artists creating their work on-site. All outdoor events, including those with Pelaez Lopez and Báez, are free to attend. Indoor panels require a small fee for advance reservations. Discover all the 2024 Festival participants.

Congratulations to Alan and Diego!

About When Language Broke Open:

When Language Broke Open collects the creative offerings of forty-five queer and trans Black writers of Latin American descent who use poetry, prose, and visual art to illustrate Blackness as a geopolitical experience that is always changing. Telling stories of Black Latinidades, this anthology centers the multifaceted realities of the LGBTQ community.

By exploring themes of memory, care, and futurity, these contributions expand understandings of Blackness in Latin America, the Caribbean, and their U.S.-based diasporas.

About Yaguareté White:

In Diego Báez’s debut collection, Yaguareté White, English, Spanish, and Guaraní encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar. The son of a Paraguayan father and a mother from Pennsylvania, Báez grew up in central Illinois as one of the only brown kids on the block—but that didn’t keep him from feeling like a gringo on family visits to Paraguay. Exploring this contradiction as it weaves through experiences of language, self, and place, Báez revels in showing up the absurdities of empire and chafes at the limits of patrimony, but he always reserves his most trenchant irony for the gaze he turns on himself.

Kamat’s “In a Wounded Land” Available on Open Arizona

April 2, 2024

We’re excited to announce that Vinay R. Kamat’s In a Wounded Land: Conservation, Extraction, and Human Well-Being in Coastal Tanzania has just been published and is simultaneously available on Open Arizona! Open Arizona is a portal of open-access titles from the University of Arizona Press. We are adding new content to the site monthly. Please check back frequently to see our latest offerings!

About the book:

Focusing on the human element of marine conservation and the extractive industry in Tanzania, this volume illuminates what happens when impoverished people living in underdeveloped regions of Africa are suddenly subjected to state-directed conservation and natural resource extraction projects. Drawing on ethnographically rich case studies and vignettes, the book documents the impacts of these projects on local populations and their responses to these projects over a ten-year period.

April 1, 2024

We had a great time at the 2024 Annual Meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology in Santa Fe, New Mexico last week! Sincerest thanks to everyone who visited our table.

If you weren’t able to visit us at the bookfair, there’s still time to order the books we had on display. Get 35% off with discount code AZANTH24 at checkout until 4/26/24.

Check out the photos of the event below!

Senior Editor Allyson Carter at our table with new and recent anthropology titles.

Thanks to everyone who came by to say hello, browse books, and talk with us at the conference!

CALÓ News Interviews Amber Rose González, Felicia ‘Fe’ Montes, and Nadia Zepeda

March 28, 2024

In advance of the April 7 Los Angeles book launch party for Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento: Spiritual Artivism, Healing Justice, and Feminist Praxis, Denise Florez of CALÓ News interviewed editors Amber Rose González, Felicia ‘Fe’ Montes, and Nadia Zepeda.

In the article, Fe Montes said, “We see art as a tool for education, empowerment and transformation. And so we could educate about a holiday or community event or historical event in a poem.” She further explained that Mujeres de Maiz will also hold poetry processions in the streets, in an auto repair store or a nail salon. She said: “We walk along the south side of César Chávez Boulevard and do that. So bringing it to not only the cultural centers, but literally to the people or to high school assemblies in the schools.”

Nadia Zepeda said, “I really see the importance of documenting our movements and documenting the work that has been done in Los Angeles and surrounding cities. I came to the work around wellness and connections to ancestral indigenous knowledge.”

Read the full interview here.

About the book:

Founded in 1997, Mujeres de Maiz (MdM) is an Indigenous Xicana–led spiritual artivist organization and movement by and for women and feminists of color. Chronicling its quarter-century-long herstory, this collection weaves together diverse stories with attention to their larger sociopolitical contexts. The book crosses conventional genre boundaries through the inclusion of poetry, visual art, testimonios, and essays.

MdM’s political-ethical-spiritual commitments, cultural production, and everyday practices are informed by Indigenous and transnational feminist of color artistic, ceremonial, activist, and intellectual legacies. Contributors fuse stories of celebration, love, and spirit-work with an incisive critique of interlocking oppressions, both intimate and structural, encouraging movement toward “a world where many worlds fit.”

Five Questions for L Heidenreich and Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz

March 26, 2024

Have you ever wanted a writing and research manual that centered Chicanx and Latinx scholarship? Writing that Matters: A Handbook for Chicanx and Latinx Studies does just that. While it includes a brief history of the roots of the fields of Chicanx literature and history, Writing that Matters emphasizes practice: how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx history paper; how to research and write a Chicanx or Latinx literature or cultural studies essay; and how to conduct interviews, frame pláticas, and conduct oral histories.

How did you first come up with the idea for this book?

When teaching writing, whether in literature or history classes, we were both frustrated with a lack of resources for teaching from a Chicanx or from a Latinx base of knowledge.  Most handbooks are written with white, Eurocentric frameworks and/or from a white, Eurocentric lens. Using the supposedly generic writing and research manuals was alienating for us when we were students.  As professors, we found ourselves altering assignments and reworking prompts so that our students would connect with them and see themselves and our communities represented.

In our early careers, we both kept hoping for a handbook in our respective fields.  As senior scholars, we realized we were the generation that needed to do this—that we could create our own handbook.  Aside from our writing materials, we were fortunate to know an incredible artist, Anel Flores, who could create images and a book cover to help inspire our students.  At the Mujeres Activas en Letras y Cambio Social (MALCS), the organization where we first workshopped our ideas, many of our colleagues and friends who teach writing gave us their unanimous endorsement; therefore, we crafted the handbook we had needed all along.

What do you mean in the book when you say: “Research is Me-search?”

This is an expression that Dr. Urquijo Ruiz learned while at the University of California, San Diego, and that she shared with Dr. Heidenreich.  Of course, we use it because it rings true with us and we have found that it rings true with our students.  To say that “research is me-search” is to say that the best work we do tends to come from a connection within us.  When we allow ourselves to be inspired, to do work that matters to us, that resonates with our life experiences and those of our multiple communities, then we have the energy to do great work. We teach our classes, we encourage students to seek out questions that resonate deeply within themselves.  We have worked to make sure that our handbook takes a similar approach.

How will students use this book to crush the patriarchy?

Words, research, and a solid argument are all tools that can be wielded to create fissures in the structures that create inequality in our lives and the world around us.  The handbook is structured to help students develop their tool sets so that they have strong research, writing, and rhetoric skills with which to challenge multiple systems of inequality—systems constructed by, and constitutive, of patriarchy and heteronormativity.

What are the challenges that Chicanx and Latinx students face when interviewing family members or others in search of oral history, pláticas and testimonios?

Wow, there are many challenges; so here are just a couple of them.  On a very basic level, it can be hard to find a quiet place to hold the interview.  Our homes are busy places.  So, we encourage students to take advantage of library rooms – both public libraries and campus libraries, which are much quieter.  On a deeper level, because of the ways in which sexism and racism function in society, many of our family members experienced difficult, if not traumatic experiences either in coming to the U.S., or here in the U.S. itself. This is why, even when interviewing family members, it is important for students try to have a preliminary meeting where they can discuss their goals with the interviewee and let their family member ask them questions about the process.  Of course, it is always critical to make sure family members know they can skip questions, take a break, or just change their mind about doing the interview.  The wonderful thing about interviewing family members is that the family gains a narrative of their own history that they can keep and share with present and future generations.

What are you both working on now? 

L Heidenreich:  I am working on a book about women religious (Catholic sisters) and the United Farm Worker movement.  Not much has been written about the women of the movement, and since women religious were a strong influence on my formative years, I wanted to start the project there: excavating the work of Catholic sisters and the Union.  Of course, women of the UFW, in general, are grossly under-researched and so the project will not be exclusively about the sisters.  My m.o. is to draft a mini proposal, produce a couple articles or book chapters, and then draft a book proposal proper.

Because I started the project right as the Covid pandemic began, I had to start with online and print sources.  So, the first article wound up being about Dolores Huerta and a 2009 speech she gave at the Twenty-first National Conference on LGBT Equality.  That was published in Catholic Women’s Rhetoric in the United States (Lexington, 2022).  Huerta is an inspiring figure and being able to do that work during the pandemic kept me grounded and hopeful.  I now have a broader article coming out in U.S. Catholic Historian (Summer, 2024) titled “Saintly Protest: Women Religious, Religious Women, and the Early United Farm Worker Movement.”  That brings me to “two”; and so now it is time for me to sit down and draft the book proposal–which makes it all very real.

Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz: I am currently enjoying my work as a culturally and linguistically sensitive translator of children’s books (from English to Spanish). Because my siblings and I were raised in Sonora, Mexico, in an environment that lacked basic needs, books (except for textbooks) were rarely present when we were growing up. I want to change that for the new generations of children in my family and in my communities in general. Thus far, I have translated six picture books for ages K-5th grade, and I translated one novel in verse from Dr. Carmen Tafolla, the first Texas Poet Laureate, titled Warrior Girl / Guerrera. The novel is about a pre-teen Chicanita from San Antonio, Texas, raised in a mix-status family, who is proud of her Mexican and Chicanx heritages.

On the research side: we just finished the last edits for our book Latinidad and Film: Queer and Feminist Cinema in the Americas (Palgrave Macmillan, July 2024) that I co-authored with my dear colleagues-friends Drs. Dania Abreu-Torres and Rosana Blanco-Cano. On the creative side: I continue to work on my memoir and I’m proud that my piece “First Visit” was published in the anthology Somewhere We Are Human: Authentic Voices on Migration, Survival, and New Beginnings, co-edited by Reyna Grande and Sonia Guiñansaca (HiperVia, 2023).
***
L Heidenreich is a professor of history at Washington State University. They are the author of “This Land Was Mexican Once”: Histories of Resistance from Northern California and Nepantla2: Transgender Mestiz@ Histories in Times of Global Shift. Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz is a Mexicana/Chicana fronteriza queer educator, translator, writer, activist, and performer from Sonora, Mexico, and southern California. She is a professor of Spanish as well as Chicanx studies, queer studies, and global Latinx studies at Trinity University.

2024 SfAA Conference: Discounts, New Books, and More

March 25, 2024

We are thrilled to be attending the 2024 Society for Applied Anthropology annual meeting in Santa Fe, New Mexico this week! From March 26-30, find our table to browse the University of Arizona Press’ latest anthropology titles and meet with editor Allyson Carter.

If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our booth, we’ve got you covered: use AZANTH24 for 35% off all titles.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? To learn more about publishing with us, click here.

New Anthropology Titles

Editors Kristin Elizabeth Yarris and Whitney L. Duncan bring together the experiences and voices of anthropologists whose engaged work with im/migrant communities pushes the boundaries of ethnography toward a feminist, care-based, decolonial mode of ethnographic engagement called “accompaniment.” More than two dozen contributors show how accompaniment is not merely a mode of knowledge production but an ethical commitment that calls researchers to action in solidarity with those whose lives we seek to understand. The volume stands as a collective conversation about possibilities for caring and decolonial forms of ethnographic engagement with im/migrant communities.

Focusing on the human element of marine conservation and the extractive industry in Tanzania, Vinay R. Kamat illuminates what happens when impoverished people living in underdeveloped regions of Africa are suddenly subjected to state-directed conservation and natural resource extraction projects, implemented in their landscapes of subsistence. In a Wounded Land draws on ethnographically rich case studies and vignettes collected over a ten-year period in several coastal villages on Tanzania’s southeastern border with Mozambique.

Kneeling Before Corn focuses on the intimate relations that develop between plants and humans in the milpas of the northern rural region of El Salvador. It explores the ways in which more-than-human intimacies travel away from and return to the milpa through human networks. Collective and multivocal, this work reflects independent lines of investigation and multiple conversations between co-authors—all of whom have lived in El Salvador for extended periods of time. This book offers an innovative account of rural El Salvador in the twenty-first century.

We Stay the Same grounds questions of hope for transformative economic change within Lavongai assessments of the inequitable relationships between global processes of resource development and the local lives that have become increasingly defined by the necessities and failures of these processes. Written in a clear and relatable style for students, Jason Roberts combines ethnographic and ecological research to show how the Lavongai continue to survive and make meaningful lives in a situation where their own hopes for a better future have often been used against them as a mechanism of a more distantly profitable dispossession.

In this delightful biography, Shelby Tisdale gives us insight into a time when there were few women establishing full-time careers in anthropology, archaeology, or museums. No Place for a Lady successfully combines Lambert’s voice from extensive interviews with her own to take us on a thought-provoking journey into how Lambert created a successful and satisfying professional career and personal life in a place she loved (the American Southwest) while doing what she loved.

Contrary to previous works that suppress Nuevomexicana/o presence throughout U.S. nuclear history, Nuclear Nuevo México focuses on recovering the voices and stories that have been lost or ignored in the telling of this history. By recuperating these narratives, Myrriah Gómez tells a new story of New Mexico, one in which the nuclear history is not separate from the collective colonial history of Nuevo México but instead demonstrates how earlier eras of settler colonialism laid the foundation for nuclear colonialism in New Mexico.

Featured Series

Global Change/Global Health is a new series for scholarly monographs that treat global change and human health as interconnected phenomena. The goals of the series are to advance scholarship across the social and health sciences, contribute to public debates, and inform public policies about the human dimensions of global change.

biodiversity in small spaces is a series that provides short, to-the-point books that re-examine the conservation of biodiversity in small places and focus on the interplay of memory, identity, and affect in determining what matters, and thus what stays, thereby shaping the fabric of biodiversity in the present and, ultimately, the future. The authors will cover, in an accessible way, the range of marginalities, subjectivities, and chronologies, from indigenous farmers nurturing, defending, or repatriating their traditional crop varieties to college towns re-embedding food production and consumption into the social fabric of their communities.

Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies anchors intellectual work within an Indigenous framework that reflects Native-centered concerns and objectives. Series titles expand and deepen discussions about Indigenous people beyond nation-state boundaries, and complicate existing notions of Indigenous identity.

Critical Green Engagements is a series that critically engages with the growing global advocacy of the “green economy” model for environmental stewardship and puts forth alternatives to discourses that dominate “green” practices. The series explores how different advocates, bystanders, and opponents engage with the changes envisaged by policy directives and environmental visions.

For questions or to submit a proposal to any of these series, please contact Senior Editor, Allyson Carter, at acarter@uapress.arizona.edu.

Manuela L. Picq Wins Outstanding Activist Scholar Award

March 20, 2024

Manuela L. Picq is the 2024 Outstanding Activist Scholar Awardee from the International Political Economy section of the International Studies Association. She joins an extraordinary list of past recipients that includes Angela Davis, Naomi Klein, Walden Bello, and David Graeber. 

A celebratory reception will take place on Thursday, April 4, 12:30 p.m., Imperial A, Hilton Union Square, at the International Studies Association Annual Convention in San Francisco. After the reception, there will be a panel discussing Picq’s scholarship; the panel features Hasmet Uluorta, Markus Thiel, Robin Broad and Arlene Tickner. Finally, Picq will give a talk titled “When Our Bodies Stand With Our Ideas.”

About Vernacular Sovereignties: Indigenous Women Challenging World Politics:

Indigenous women are rarely accounted for in world politics. Imagined as passive subjects at the margins of political decision-making, they often epitomize the antithesis of international relations. Yet from their positions of marginality they are shaping sovereignty.
 
In Vernacular Sovereignties, Manuela Lavinas Picq shows that Indigenous women have long been dynamic political actors who have partaken in international politics and have shaped state practices carrying different forms of resistance. Her research on Ecuador shows that although Kichwa women face overlapping oppressions from socioeconomic exclusions to sexual violence, they are achieving rights unparalleled in the world.

Five Questions for Amber Rose González, Felicia ‘Fe’ Montes, and Nadia Zepeda

March 18, 2024

Founded in 1997, Mujeres de Maiz (MdM) is an Indigenous Xicana–led spiritual artivist organization and movement by and for women and feminists of color. Chronicling its quarter-century-long herstory, editors Amber Rose González, Felicia ‘Fe’ Montes, and Nadia Zepeda weave together diverse stories with attention to their larger sociopolitical contexts. Mujeres de Maiz en Movimiento crosses conventional genre boundaries through the inclusion of poetry, visual art, testimonios, and essays.

What made you want write a book about the Mujeres de Maiz movement?

Nadia: We all saw the importance of documenting the work of Mujeres de Maiz. All three of us were working with Mujeres de Maiz in some capacity as well as finishing our thesis and dissertations about the work. We also wanted to highlight other folk who were writing about Mujeres de Maiz in academic spaces. It made sense to weave together this collective history and also highlight and elevate the art and writing that has been produced. The task of documenting Mujeres de Maiz was a big one because we wanted to encompass as many elements of the collective as possible. This meant highlighting the work of early members through testimonies, featuring the work in the zines that have been part of the collective since its inception, and incorporating the art and performances that make Mujeres de Maiz. 

Fe: From the very beginning of Mujeres de Maiz we knew we were doing something special. There was an energy, a spark, a connection, emotions, love, and what felt like a change in our DNA. We knew that we had to document it, whether it was through video, writing, or telling our stories in the same traditions that our women of color predecessors had. The book is our story, our documentation of our herstory, and the femmifestation of our prayer and of prophecy. We see it as our own codex. 

How do the people of Mujeres de Maiz bring Indigenous systems of communalism and spirituality to today’s urban spaces?
Amber: Mujeres de Maiz is an Indigenous Xicana/x-led organization and movement with many of the individuals belonging to/having heritage within different nations that span the continent. As feminists, cultural bearers, artists, activists, teachers, parents, etc., we bring many overlapping worldviews, spiritual practices, and ways of being, teaching, and learning into the spaces we create. Spirituality is a part of everything we do!

Why does the book include visual art as well as text?
Amber: Mujeres de Maiz is a multidisciplinary, multimedia spiritual artivist collective. Many of the artivists cross artistic genres, whether written or visual. The written work in the book includes testimonios or life writing, academic essays, and poetry, with many authors blending prose, theory, and poetic expression. This hybrid approach that breaks with dominant writing conventions (borders), is part of a long tradition of feminist of color writing. Visual art is equally important in the documentation of MdM’s herstory. The combination of the written and the visual to tell an epic story is also part of a centuries-old Mesoamerican tradition. This book is our present-day Xicana/x amoxtli, our codex.

Why is maiz important to Chicanas?
Fe: Maiz is our sacred mother—it is our creation story, our sustenance, our prayer, our lineage, and our direct connection to the land.

What is your next project?
Amber: We plan to create a suite of teacher resources to accompany the book that will be free and available on our website. We’ve discussed a possible second book that will feature some of the cultural production of MdM artivists and additional essays and testimonios that we either didn’t have space for or were otherwise unable to secure for the first project. We’ve also talked about an MdM archive project. We look forward to translating the book into Spanish. 
***

Amber Rose González is a queer Apachicana born and raised in the San Gabriel Valley, California, and ancestrally rooted in New Mexico and Jalisco. She is a professor of ethnic studies at Fullerton College, a writer-researcher-organizer with Mujeres de Maiz, and a co-author and editor of the open-access textbook New Directions in Chicanx and Latinx Studies.

Felicia “Fe” Montes is a Chicana Indigenous artist based in Los Angeles. Montes is a multimedia artist, poet, performer, educator, professor, and emcee.

Nadia Zepeda is an assistant professor in the Department of Chicana/o Studies at California State University, Fullerton. Through collaborative and community-based research, she traces the genealogy of healing justice in Chicana/x feminist organizing.

March 13, 2024

Thank you to everyone who made the 2024 Tucson Festival of Books another spectacular celebration of literacy, books, and authors! We are grateful to the authors who shared their time and work, our staff who made our booth so special, the volunteers who work behind the scenes to make it all happen, and our community who showed up to support the Press and our authors.

We’re continuing the celebration for just a few more days by offering a 35% discount off all books when you use code AZTFB24 on our website.

Here are just a few highlights from the weekend:

Bennu 3-D author Carina A. Bennett, Catherine W.V. Wolner, and Dante S. Lauretta signing copies of their book.
University of Arizona Press staff Elizabeth Wilder, Cameron Louie, Leigh McDonald, and Anissa Suazo get ready for the day.
Melissa L. Sevigny, Shelby Tisdale, and Marie Buck before their panel on the National Parks stage.
Carolyn Niethammer and staff member Leigh McDonald visit in our booth.
Daisy Ocampo and Simon Ortiz sign books in our booth.
Reyes Ramirez and Tim Z. Hernandez signing books before their panels.
Ricardo Báez, Diego Báez, and Sara Báez during Diego’s signing in our tent.
William L. Bird Jr. and staff member Kristen Buckles near our booth.
Diane Dittemore and staff member Alana Enriquez during Diane’s signing in our booth.
A. Thomas Cole and Shelby Tisdale sign copies of their books in our booth.
Stephen J. Pyne and Tom Zoellner in our booth.

Excerpt from “Central American Counterpoetics”

March 12, 2024

Connecting past and present, Central American Counterpoetics proposes the concepts of rememory and counterpoetics as decolonial tools for studying the art, popular culture, literature music, and healing practices of Central America and the diaspora in the United States.

Author Karina Alma offers a systemic method and artistic mode for unpacking social and political memory formation that resists dominant histories. Central American Counterpoetics responds to political repression through acts of creativity that prioritize the well-being of anticolonial communities. Building on Toni Morrison’s theory of rememory, the volume examines the concept as an embodied experience of a sensory place and time lived in the here and now. By employing primary sources of image and word, interviews of creatives, and a critical self-reflection as a Salvadoran immigrant woman in academia, Alma’s research breaks ground in subject matter and methods by considering cultural and historical ties across countries, regions, and traditions. The diverse creatives included explore critical perspectives on topics such as immigration, forced assimilation, maternal love, gender violence, community arts, and decolonization. Read an excerpt from the book’s first chapter below.

This story is necessary to understand the dimension of exploitation and epistemic violence enacted by United Statesian men who gazed upon Central America as an opportunity to amass wealth. This is also a difficult story to tell because it means processing how people from the Global North exploited a pair of Salvadoran siblings at the close of the nineteenth century. There are no counterpoetics in their story. The fiction of intellectual, moral, racial, and cultural superiority of Euro/Americans plays into my research of another fabrication, that of the microcephalic Salvadoran “Aztec” siblings, Maximo and Bartola. The guardian/owner exhibited the siblings throughout the United States and Europe in the mid- to late 1800s. Their compelling story, fictitious and real, resonates with the Central American humanish as a (neo)colonial construction. Societies influenced by eugenics enslaved, trafficked, legally violated, measured, probed, and categorized the children between human and animal. I posit that their origin story as Indigenous Central American, their small stature, and microcephaly enabled the moral ease of Euro/American owners, men of medicine, science, and visitors to take part in the children’s exploitation. What matters in telling their story is the question of honoring Maximo and Bartola’s lives and asking whether U.S. Central Americans can welcome them as one of the earliest examples of Salvadoran immigrants in the U.S. diaspora.

Viewing Central America/ns within the economic realm rather than the epistemological, social, and cultural has justified historical violences on them. Such is the example of the famed expeditions of John Lloyd Stephens, driven to travel throughout the isthmus by anthropological and economic interests. Stephens states: “The reader is perhaps curious to know how old cities sell in Central America. . . . I was to pay fifty dollars for Copán. There was never any difficulty about price.” The quote shows the historical treatment of Central America/ns as sites of zero internal valuation. If American and European travelers could buy objects, artifacts, and sacred sites at a pittance according to the dominating culture, it is because of the elitist and racist idea that rural, Indigenous, and so-called common people lack knowledge and self-worth.

The Global North racial capitalists see material cultures within the logics of commodities. Even academic and trained professionals that critique American, British, and other (neo)colonial ventures underpin supposed Central American ignorance and American cunning encapsulated in the perspective that the “negative view of ‘primitive’ Hondurans was . . . echoed by nearly every visitor to Honduras. Visitors derided the people’s ignorance, although many arrived precisely to take advantage of that ignorance.” This claim by Alison Acker aims to condemn the exploitative practices of Global North tourists, anthropologists, and so forth. However, the statement ends up affirming the idea that Hondurans are ignorant. Neoliberal critiques rarely account for the internal stratifications by which the neocolonial Criollo governs through a hierarchical social order that sells out its rural, Indigenous, Black, and economically impoverished populations—their lands, bodies, labor, wares, resources, and cultural arts—to American and European investors. Transborder elites hold an attitude of entitlement, of the right to own everything, shown for example by a visiting British foreign secretary speaking on Honduras in 1854. He recommended: “Be careful . . . that you do not lead the people of the country to attach any imaginary value to things they consider at the present as having no value at all.”

Excerpt from “Resistance and Abolition in the Borderlands”

March 7, 2024

While there is a long history of state violence toward immigrants in the United States, the essayists in this interdisciplinary collection tackle head-on the impacts of the Trump administration. Resistance and Abolition in the Borderlands, edited by Arturo J. Aldama and Jessica Ordaz, is an essential reader for those wishing to understand the extent of the damage caused by the Trump era and its impact on Latinx people.

This volume provides a well-argued look at the Trump era. Insightful contributions delve into the impact of Donald Trump’s rhetoric and policies on migrants detained and returned, immigrant children separated from their parents and placed in detention centers, and migrant women subjected to sexual and reproductive abuses, among other timely topics. The chapter authors document a long list in what the book calls “Trump’s Reign of Terror.”

Organized thematically, the book has four sections: The first gathers histories about the Trump years’ roots in a longer history of anti-migration; the second includes essays on artistic and activist responses on the border during the Trump years; the third critiques the normalization of Trump’s rhetoric and actions in popular media and culture; and the fourth envisions the future. Read an excerpt from the book’s Introduction below.

We write from the traditional territories of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute Nations and start by calling out the cruelty of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers (over 50 percent of whom are Hispanic identified). They mocked and humiliated the children, many Indigenous and Afro-Indigenous identified, who cried from pain and trauma and terror when they were taken from their parents as part of Trump’s family separation policy, a zero tolerance policy that stole more than 2,500 children from their parents as they attempted to seek asylum in the United States. The 2018 ProPublica article “Listen to Children Who’ve Just Been Separated from Their Parents at the Border” provides leaked audio of ten children sobbing, screaming, and crying out for their “mami and papa.” The children were estimated to be between four and ten years old. It is gut wrenching to listen to the “live trauma” of the children trying to process the terror and fear they felt because of Trump’s zero tolerance policy. Their feelings were violated further by the border patrol officers who mocked their pain and humiliated them. The audio reveals the baritone voice of an officer yelling above the crying of the children. He says, “Well, we have an orchestra here.” “What’s missing is a conductor.”

It might be easy to dismiss the border patrol officer’s traumatizing “humor” as that of a stressed-out officer with poor taste. However, this added cruelty, which makes children into literal abjects, underscores Trump’s presidency, rhetoric, political theater, and policies. His callousness inspired others to enunciate their white supremacist views and actions. To augment further this view of Trump and those who feel “liberated” by his white supremacism, we ask readers to engage with the staff report titled The Trump Administration’s Family Separation Policy: Trauma, Destruction, and Chaos. The report concludes that the family separation policy—which was piloted in El Paso, Texas, in 2017 and was prepared within weeks of President Trump’s inauguration—was “driven by an Administration that was willfully blind to its cruelty” and “determined to go to unthinkable extremes to deliver on political promises,” such as stopping migrants from entering the United States.

As editors of this collection, we also recognize, remember, and mourn the countless queer and trans migrants who were incarcerated, deported, or murdered during the Trump era. As the world learned in December 2020, a transgender asylum seeker from Ecuador named C.O. was held in solitary confinement at the Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia for six months due to his gender identity. Immigration authorities held C.O. and denied him hormone treatment as well as other medical resources. Honduran migrant Roxsana Hernandez died due to medical neglect and the traumatizing experience of the detention center or “icebox,” so named for its cold temperatures and lack of warm bedding. News reports suggest that when Roxsana was transferred to a private prison, she presented with severe symptoms of “dehydration and pneumonia.” Roxsana passed away shortly afterward in a hospital. Johana Medina
León, like Roxsana, died due to medical neglect and the depraved indifference shown to her medical needs. May we remember their names and lives, and may they rest in power.

Contributors:
Arturo J. Aldama
Rebecca Avalos
Cynthia Bejarano
Tria Blu Wakpa
Renata Carvalho Barreto
Karma R. Chávez
Leo R. Chavez
Jennifer Cullison
Jasmin Lilian Diab
Allison Glover
Jamila Hammami
Alexandria Herrera
Diana J. Lopez
Sergio A. Macías
Cinthya Martinez
Alexis N. Meza
Roberto A. Mónico
José Enrique Navarro
Jessica Ordaz
Eliseo Ortiz
Kiara Padilla
Leslie Quintanilla
J-M Rivera
Heidy Sarabia
Tina Shull
Nishant Upadhyay
Maria Vargas
Antonio Vásquez

Excerpt from “The Space Age Generation”

March 5, 2024

In 1957 Sputnik launched toward the stars. President Kennedy then announced that the United States would send men to the Moon and then return them to Earth. These pivotal moments sparked an unequaled bound forward in human innovation and scientific exploration.

At the heart of this momentous time were the men and women working behind the scenes. Scientists, historians, and astronomers share their memories and contributions from this unparalleled era in essays told in their own words. They are the remarkable generation who witnessed and contributed to some of space science’s most stunning achievements. In The Space Age Generation: Lives and Lessons from the Golden Age of Solar System Exploration, edited by William Sheehan and Klaus R. Brasch, this generation has recorded their memories—their childhood inspirations, their challenges, failures, and triumphs—for future generations. Read an excerpt from the book’s Introduction below.

It’s not always clear that one has lived in a golden age until after the fact.

In retrospect, the period from the early fifties until the late eighties was a one-off , a golden age of planetary science. Those like us who lived through it were fortunate in belonging to the generation that was the first to explore the solar system and thereby experienced what can never be experienced again. In our childhood the planets were “distant and indistinct discs moving through the night sky, and . . . in old age, . . . places, diverse new worlds in the course of exploration.”

In the fifties, though full of hope, we actually knew very little. Now we know a great deal but—perhaps—are not so full of hope. In the fifties, the far side of the Moon was terra incognita, and speculation as to what might be found there was rife. The surface of Venus, cloaked under perpetually overcast skies, might be steaming jungles like those on Earth during the Carboniferous period. Mercury was believed to rotate in the same period as it revolved around the Sun, and so it was more or less half-baked and half-frozen—except, perhaps, in the “twilit” zone, which alternately enjoyed day and night and where life might have gotten a foothold. Mars of course was more evocative than any of the others. Percival Lowell’s whims of intelligent beings and canals to pump water from the polar ice caps were still remembered, and though they were no longer viewed as likely, it seemed possible, even probable, that lower life forms, like lichens, might exist on the planet. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot was possibly a large solid body floating in the planet’s atmosphere like an egg in a solution of salt and water. Saturn’s main rings—A, B, and C—were well defined, but the finer structure sometimes glimpsed through large telescopes in excellent seeing conditions was largely unknown, as were the forces controlling that structure. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto were virtually inscrutable, as were the satellites of all the planets except Earth and the asteroids. The Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud were mere theoretical speculations. Theories of the origin of the solar system and of the Earth-Moon system were primitive. Even the origin of lunar craters was hotly debated, as it had been for centuries, with keen adherents to both the meteoritic and the volcanic schools. Whether the solar system we knew was rare or commonplace in the galaxy was unclear, and we had no firm knowledge, one way or the other, of extra-solar planets. Also unknown was whether life might be rare or commonplace, though as a matter of mere statistics (with an estimated one hundred billion suns in the galaxy), it appeared exceedingly unlikely that ours was the only technologically sophisticated civilization. UFOs were all the rage, and at least a few professional astronomers believed that representatives of the planets of other stars (and perhaps even Venus or Mars) might have visited (or be visiting) our planet. The first SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) programs got under way in 1960, dedicated to picking up extraterrestrial communications with radio telescopes, and though if successful, we could undoubtedly learn a great deal from civilizations more advanced than ours, the prospect of disclosing our whereabouts was not entirely without danger.

The fifties—and on into the sixties and beyond—was certainly a golden age for young people interested in science. There was unprecedented support for science education, and funding for scientific research, especially at the new space agency, NASA, shot upward. Blending astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry and biology, the new discipline of planetary science emerged to interpret the enormous amounts of data spacecraft were returning from other worlds, and within planetary science, subspecialities became more and more complex and particularized. Before long, no one person could possibly comprehend the big picture.

It was a golden age, and yet, living through it, it did not always seem like one. The period that saw the culmination of some of our oldest dreams, in which we ventured beyond the Earth, “the cradle of humanity,” in Russian space visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s words, came hard on the heels of a singularly horrific period of human history, which included the hideous stalemate of trench warfare in World War I; Stalin’s collectivization of farming, resulting in the starvation of millions; the gulags; the Nanjing Massacre; Hitler’s war; the Holocaust; and atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Ironically, the drive for more deadly weapons of warfare (modified ballistic missiles) became the very means that would allow voyages to the Moon and planets. It was the best and the worst of times, no different from any other except possibly more extreme.

Though the space age had many antecedents, it is usually said to have begun with the launch of Sputnik (i.e., “satellite”) on October 4, 1957. Early achievements include the discovery of Van Allen radiation belts by the U.S. satellite Explorer 1 in 1958 and the three Soviet Lunas of 1959, which were, respectively, the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon, the first human object to reach its surface, and the first spacecraft to photograph the hitherto unseen far side of the Moon. The sixties saw the first weather satellite (Tiros), communication satellites (e.g., Telstar 1), men and women in Earth orbit, more probes to the Moon as well as to Venus and Mars, and finally, in President John F. Kennedy’s words, “landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

The backdrop to all this was the Cold War, in which two quasi empires, the democratic and capitalist United States and the autocratic and communist Soviet Union, struggled for global dominance. Politically, space was vital not so much in itself than in the prestige it offered whoever achieved mastery of it first. Each launch was a chance to demonstrate the awesome power of rocket systems to deliver payloads into space, whether these were probes sent to explore the Moon and planets or nuclear warheads intended
for nothing less than the destruction of the Earth. Regardless of these mixed motives, the result was to be a golden age of space exploration, in which humanity first extended its reach into the solar system.

The authors of the present collection of essays are among those who lived during that remarkable era and witnessed, or directly contributed to, its achievements, and now in late middle or old age, they are eager to set down their memories before those fade and are lost to recall forever.

Contributors:
Leo Aerts
Alexander Basilevsky
Klaus Brasch
Clark R. Chapman
Dale P. Cruikshank
William K. Hartmann
William Leatherbarrow
Baerbel Koesters Lucchitta
Yvonne Pendleton
Peter H. Schultz
William Sheehan
Paolo Tanga
Charles A. Wood

TFOB 2024: See you this week at booth #242!

March 4, 2024

Book lovers rejoice: the 2024 Tucson Festival of Books is happening this weekend, March 9th and 10th! As white tents start to pop up on the mall and bibliophiles begin to arrive from all over the world, the University of Arizona Press team is busy getting ready to welcome you to booth #242!

We are thrilled to have a wide variety of authors presenting on panels and signing books at our tent this year. Stop by our booth to browse hundreds of amazing titles and get them signed by the authors. All books will be 25% off during the festival with code AZTFB24, and as always, we’ll have our ever-popular $5 book shelf.

Take a look at the full Tucson Festival of Books schedule to find out where and when you can meet our authors, and come visit them during our booth signings. The lineup is below. We look forward to seeing you this weekend!

Saturday, March 9

10:00 AM: Judith X. Becerra and David Yetman, authors of Elephant Trees, Copales, and Cuajiotes

11:00 AM: Daisy Ocampo, author of Where We Belong

12:00 PM: Simon J. Ortiz, author of Light as Light

12:30 PM: Dante S. Lauretta, Catherine W. V. Wolner & Carina A. Bennett, authors of Bennu 3-D

1:00 PM: Shelby Tisdale & A. Thomas Cole, authors of No Place for a Lady & Restoring the Pitchfork Ranch

2:00 PM: Tim Z. Hernandez & Reyes Ramirez , authors of All They Will Call You & Book of Wanderers

Sunday, March 10

10:00 AM: Diego Báez, author of Yaguareté White

11:00 AM: Diane D. Dittemore, author of Woven from the Center

1:00 PM: Tom Zoellner, author of Rim to River

2:00 PM: Stephen J. Pyne, author of Pyrocene Park

For the full festival schedule, click here.

Author Ken Lamberton Wins Fellowship

March 1, 2024

Ken Lamberton is one of the first recipients of the new Writing Freedom Fellowship. He is the author of several works, including Chasing Arizona, Dry River, and Time of Grace.

Haymarket Books and the Mellon Foundation jointly announced the inaugural cohort for the newly established Writing Freedom Fellowship—a program to support writers of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction impacted by the criminal legal system. Writing Freedom was envisioned and funded by the Mellon Foundation and the Art for Justice Fund, and developed and administered by Haymarket Books.

“This exceptional group of Fellows further reveals the profound literary achievement and vital perspectives of those who have been touched by our country’s carceral system,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We at Mellon are honored to join Haymarket in driving connection among these voices, galvanizing them in their advocacy, craft, and future work.”

Congratulations Ken!

Read more about the program and see the complete list of 2024 Fellows here.

About the books:

Chasing Arizona takes readers on a yearlong, twenty-thousand-mile joy ride across Arizona during its centennial, racking up more than two hundred points of interest along the way. This book is an adventure story, a tale of Arizona, and a celebration of what makes the state a great place to visit and live. In Dry River, Lamberton takes us on a trek across the land of three nations—the United States, Mexico, and the Tohono O’odham Nation—as he hikes the river’s path from its source and introduces us to people who draw identity from the river—dedicated professionals, hardworking locals, and the author’s own family. Far more than a “prison memoir,” Time of Grace is an intimate and revealing look at relationships—with fellow humans and with the surprising wildlife of the Sonoran Desert, both inside and beyond prison walls.

William L. Bird, Jr. on New Books Network

February 29, 2024

New Books Network “American West” podcast host Daniel Moran interviewed William L. Bird, Jr., author of In the Arms of Saguaros. An essential—and monumental—member of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, the saguaro cactus has become the quintessential icon of the American West. Bird talks about the “social saguaro.” He explains how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their images have fulfilled attention-getting needs and expectations. Listen to the podcast on New Books Network, or find on Apple or Spotify.

About the book:

Through text and lavish images, this work explores the saguaro’s growth into a western icon from the early days of the American railroad to the years bracketing World War II, when Sun Belt boosterism hit its zenith and proponents of tourism succeed in moving the saguaro to the center of the promotional frame. This book explores how the growth of tourism brought the saguaro to ever-larger audiences through the proliferation of western-themed imagery on the American roadside. The history of the saguaro’s popular and highly imaginative range points to the current moment in which the saguaro touches us as a global icon in art, fashion, and entertainment.

De Los Angeles Features “When Language Broke Open”

February 28, 2024

De Los Angeles by The Los Angeles Times features When Language Broke Open, An Anthology of Queer and Trans Black Writers of Latin American Descent , edited by Alan Pelaez Lopez, in “6 books to shake off colonialism and rethink our Latino stories.”

Reviewer Roxsy Lin says, “This anthology reflects on the lives of 45 contributors who generously share their experiences of pain, rejection and humiliation while highlighting their strength, pride and beauty.” The article praises specific contributors to the volume including Álida, a Dominican queer writer and educator, and Louie Ortiz-Fonseca, an Afro-Puerto Rican queer storyteller.

Read the full article here.

About the book:

By exploring themes of memory, care, and futurity, these contributions expand understandings of Blackness in Latin America, the Caribbean, and their U.S.-based diasporas. The volume offers up three central questions: How do queer and/or trans Black writers of Latin American descent address memory? What are the textures of caring, being cared for, and accepting care as Black queer and/or trans people of Latin American descent? And how do queer and trans embodiments help us understand and/or question the past and the present, and construct a Black, queer, and trans future?

Diego Báez Interview in Chicago Review of Books

February 26, 2024

Mananda Chaffa recently interviewed poet Diego Báez, author of Yaguareté White, in an article titled, “A Welcome Displacement: Diego Báez On Memory, Language and Belonging,” in the Chicago Review of Books. The interview delves into his poetry’s complex issues of colonialism, language, culture and identity, as well as familial intimacies related to his young daughter.

In the interview, Báez talks about getting comfortable with unfamiliar language:

The speaker of “Yaguareté White” surely knows more Guaraní than most readers (an admittedly low bar to clear). I thought it would be interesting to open with a speaker who seeks to reassure readers, or who positions himself as sympathetic to readerly frustrations with pronunciation and interpretation, only to subvert that originally accommodating tone in later poems, almost to the point of sharpness or hostility. I’m interested in the ways poetic speakers contradict, undermine, or unsettle their own positions. That aspect of the human condition is just so much more relatable to me.

Read the complete interview here.

About the book:

In Diego Báez’s debut collection, Yaguareté White, English, Spanish, and Guaraní encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar.

The son of a Paraguayan father and a mother from Pennsylvania, Báez grew up in central Illinois as one of the only brown kids on the block—but that didn’t keep him from feeling like a gringo on family visits to Paraguay. Exploring this contradiction as it weaves through experiences of language, self, and place, Báez revels in showing up the absurdities of empire and chafes at the limits of patrimony, but he always reserves his most trenchant irony for the gaze he turns on himself.

February 23, 2024

The Wall Street Journal featured Woven from the Center: Native Basketry in the Southwest, by Diane Dittemore. Reporter Peter Saenger wrote about how the book relates to the Arizona State Museum’s permanent exhibit, Woven Through Time: American Treasures of Native Basketry and Fiber Art: “Diane D. Dittemore uses the baskets to illustrate an encyclopedic survey of Native American basketry in the U.S. Southwest. The earliest North American baskets are almost 10,000 years old, and basketry often features in Native lore.” Dittemore is the Associate Curator of Ethnological Collections at the Arizona State Museum, located at the University of Arizona. 

About the book:
Woven from the Center presents breathtaking basketry from some of the greatest weavers in the Southwest. Each sandal and mat fragment, each bowl and jar, every water bottle and whimsy is infused with layers of aesthetic, cultural, and historical meanings. This book offers stunning photos and descriptions of woven works from Tohono O’odham, Akimel O’odham, Hopi, Western Apache, Yavapai, Navajo, Pai, Paiute, New Mexico Pueblo, Eastern Apache, Seri, Yaqui, Mayo, and Tarahumara communities.

This richly illustrated volume stands on its own as a definitive look at basketry of the Greater Southwest, including northern Mexico.

“Yaguareté White” Playlist

February 21, 2024

What do Raffi and Pharrell Williams have in common? They’re both on Poet Diego Báez’s Spotify playlist for his collection Yaguareté White!

Báez introduces his musical influences:

Growing up in Bnorm, IL, two genres dominated our household boombox: Christian rock and Paraguayan folk. Also, Kenny G. (Mom was a fan.) The arpa and accordion of polka paraguaya spun almost exclusively on bootleg CDs burned and returned undeclared on flights back from Asunción. Occasionally, cassettes.

Yaguareté White came together, slowly, over the course of 15 years. But the book’s narratives, images, and fables stretch back to my earliest memories: Curled up on the floor of a jet over the Amazon, en route to São Paulo or Buenos Aires, before that fourth and final airborne leg to my father’s home country.

Go to the Largehearted Boy Book Notes series to read more; listen to the music here.

About the book:

In Diego Báez’s debut collection, Yaguareté White, English, Spanish, and Guaraní encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar.

The son of a Paraguayan father and a mother from Pennsylvania, Báez grew up in central Illinois as one of the only brown kids on the block—but that didn’t keep him from feeling like a gringo on family visits to Paraguay. Exploring this contradiction as it weaves through experiences of language, self, and place, Báez revels in showing up the absurdities of empire and chafes at the limits of patrimony, but he always reserves his most trenchant irony for the gaze he turns on himself.

Five Questions for A. Thomas Cole

February 20, 2024

Restoring the Pitchfork Ranch tells the story of a decades-long habitat restoration project in southwestern New Mexico. Author A. Thomas Cole explains what inspired him and wife Lucinda to turn their retirement into years dedicated to hard work and renewal. The book shares the past and present history of a special ranch south of Silver City. The ranch is home to a rare type of regional wetland, a carbon-capturing sweet spot, a fragile desert grassland ecosystem, archaeological sites, and a critical wildlife corridor in a drought-stricken landscape.

Why did you write this book?

George Orwell identified four reasons for writing a book, one of which is the political purpose of wanting to push the world in a certain direction. We bought the ranch to restore the land and improve it for wildlife and at-risk species to breed, birth and raise their young. Along the way we realized our restoration of the ranch’s near-extinct watercourse, the ciénaga, can help address the climate crisis.

The book uses the captivating history of the ranch as a platform to describe our multiple planetary crises: climate, species extinction, soil depletion and loss, among others, who caused these crises, how they knowingly created it, our government’s complicity and how long this civilization-threatening crisis, the biggest crime in human history, has been known, and the corruption to conceal it.

Why did you and Lucinda decided to retire to the ranch, off-grid, 6 miles from neighbors and an hour from town?

Cinda’s interest is based on her fondness for nature, mine comes from the summer of my eleventh year when my parents took our family to harvest an apple orchard in Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona, and run a fruit market near Slide Rock. I roamed wild-like in the mountains. Running free through the woods set a hook in me I’ve never spit out. During our marriage, we helped out with a number of two-week volunteer restoration trips that were gratifying and offered a template for retirement.

What do you want to accomplish with the book?

The land restoration we’re doing here can be done by anyone, anywhere, on any size property. We all need to team up and take the myriad crises overwhelming the planet seriously, adopt the well-established solutions and take part in fixing the mess we’re in. Congress ignored science when the West was re-settled by Americans and that mistake is being repeated today, caused by the same greed that led to thousands of failed western homesteaders. Despite terrifying weather, fire, and bad environmental news, there is much to be hopeful for because there is so much individuals can do. Solutions are well established. The only thing missing is the political will.

What is your biggest worry?

The rich one percent have many billions invested in fossil fuels that need to remain in the ground, yet they are insisting the Congress they bought and paid for: drill, drill, drill. And we’ve all become so accustomed to convenience that we might not be able to adapt to a different lifestyle: consume less, fly less, eat less meat and a number of “must-do” adjustments. Despite having entered a permanent era of boiling, cauldron-like weather, our preoccupation with fortune, fame, and fashion may cause us to ignore these ecological and biological threats, forestall the pivot from consumption and so-called progress to saving our wounded world.

What is the most important sentence in the book?

This quote:
“By far the most fundamental driver of environmental destruction is the excessive consumption by the wealthy.”
***
A. Thomas Cole spent thirty-two years as a small-town lawyer in Casa Grande, Arizona—in which A.T. Cole successfully defended a dozen murder cases, two of which risked the death penalty, and co-counsel in the largest personal injury jury verdict in Arizona history. For his so-called “retirement,” Cole and his wife Lucinda have been rehabilitating a ranch in southwestern New Mexico, where they focus on protecting wildlife and wildlife habitats, wetland restoration, and carbon sequestration. Their aim is to draw down their carbon use and to encourage others to do the same. Cole once Chaired the Arizona Humanities Council. Restoring the Pitchfork Ranch is A.T. Cole’s first book.

Natasha Varner on Tucson’s Settler History in “Electric Literature”

February 19, 2024

In an essay for Electric Literature, Natasha Varner explores her ancestral ties and Tucson’s settler history from The Castle Apartments, a landmark developed in 1906. Varner’s research sends her to a time when the city was riddled with disease, shedding light on the role the building had in Indigenous dispossession:

“None of the ads mentioned that this health-seeker haven was being built atop Tohono O’odham land, atop Yoeme land. That while Tucson signified a chance at survival to some, its original inhabitants were being forced into ever-dwindling reservations bordering its city limits.”

Read the Essay

About La Raza Cosmética: Beauty, Identity, and Settler Colonialism in Postrevolutionary Mexico:

In the decades following the Mexican Revolution, nation builders, artists, and intellectuals manufactured ideologies that continue to give shape to popular understandings of indigeneity and mestizaje today. Postrevolutionary identity tropes emerged as part of broader efforts to reunify the nation and solve pressing social concerns, including what was posited in the racist rhetoric of the time as the “Indian problem.” Through a complex alchemy of appropriation and erasure, indigeneity was idealized as a relic of the past while mestizaje was positioned as the race of the future. This period of identity formation coincided with a boom in technology that introduced a sudden proliferation of images on the streets and in homes: there were more photographs in newspapers, movie houses cropped up across the country, and printing houses mass-produced calendar art and postcards. La Raza Cosmética traces postrevolutionary identity ideals and debates as they were dispersed to the greater public through emerging visual culture.

***

Natasha Varner is a writer and historian whose work focuses on race, identity, and settler colonialism in Mexico and the United States. She is the recipient of the 2017 Lewis Hanke postdoctoral research award presented by the Conference on Latin American History. In addition to traditional academic pursuits, she is a public scholar who has written for Public Radio International and Jacobin, among other outlets.

February 16, 2024

As everyone returns to their routines after the 2024 Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference, we want to take a moment to express our sincere gratitude to the many authors, editors, contributors, and new friends who spent time at our booth.

If you weren’t able to visit us at the bookfair, there’s still time to order the books we had on display. Get 35% off with discount code AZAWP24 at checkout until 3/10/24.

Check out the photos of the event below!

Inside the Kansas City Convention Center, attendees gather on their way up to the bookfair.
Our booth at the bookfair was a perfect spot to host authors, meet new friends, and share our books.
Juan Martinez signs copies of Extended Stay.
Juan Martinez draws customized creatures as he signs books for AWP attendees.
Assistant Editor, Elizabeth Wilder (left) and Kim Blaeser (right) with her book, Ancient Light, at the Indigenous Nations Poets booth.
Author Diego Báez shows off Yaguareté White, his debut collection of poems.
Author Margarita Pintado Burgos signs copies of Ojo en Celo / Eye in Heat, winner of the 2023 Ambroggio Prize of the Academy of American Poets.
Authors Sergio Troncoso (left) and Alma García (right) display their books.
Author Alma García signs copies of her debut novel, All That Rises.
Author Reyes Ramirez signs copies of The Book of Wanderers.
Authors Reyes Ramirez (left) and Diego Báez (right) swap books!

Mil gracias to everyone who came by to say hello, browse books, and talk with our staff. If you’re an author and you have questions about working with us, please reach out to Elizabeth Wilder.

See you all next year in Los Angeles for AWP 2025!

Excerpt from “Border Economies”

The border between the United States and Mexico is one of the most unique and complex regions of the world. The asymmetry of the border region, together with the profound cultural differences of the two countries, create national controversies around migration, security, and illegal flows of drugs and weapons. The national narratives miss the fact that the 15 million or more people living in the border regions of Mexico and the United States are highly interactive and responsive to conditions on the other side.

Enormous legal cross-border flows of people, goods, and finance are embedded in the region’s history and prompted by the need to respond to new opportunities and challenges that originate on the other side. In Border Economies by James Gerber examines how the interactivity and sensitivity of communities to conditions across the border differentiates them from communities in the interiors of Mexico and the United States. Gerber explains what makes the region not only unique but uniquely interesting. Read an excerpt from the book below.

Permeability is an important feature of the U.S.-Mexico border. It enables the interactions of communities on opposite sides, regardless of migration policies, trade agreements, border walls, or frictions between Washington and Mexico City. Permeability refers to the authorized, constant, bidirectional movement of people, goods, and money across the international boundary. It is what allows the border region to be a unique hybrid space where Mexico’s culture and economy spill into the United States and those of the United States into Mexico. Many residents and businesses on both sides need to cross frequently, if not daily, and their normal routines require them to send and receive goods as well as to provide money and financial assets to the other side. Taken together, the enormous bidirectional flows of people, goods, and finance create a border economy that extends into both countries.

The idea of a peaceful border defined by the interactions of Mexican and U.S. citizens, businesses, and government officials is one part of the story, but an exclusive focus on the positive interactions of residents along the border elides other realities. There are also walls, armed border police, families who lead precarious lives, drug wars, and disturbing acts of violence. Raw sewage periodically spills into shared waterways, while HIV, asthma, diabetes, and other diseases pose public health challenges. It is not hard to paint a distorted and one-sided picture, but the reality of the border is one of a complex mosaic of ethnicities, incomes, social classes, and living conditions. There are difficult problems and challenges but also dynamism, opportunity, and creativity. In addition to the darker elements, both sides offer museums and universities, shopping malls, elegant homes, middle-class suburbs, and gourmet restaurants. In some places, urban areas on the border are graceful examples of cultural hybridity and cooperation across the divides of history and language, but in other places and times, they become examples of misunderstanding, poverty, and threats of violence.

Many people on both sides of the border never cross to the other side. The reasons are various—they are not permitted, they do not want to, or they haven’t enough time or money. But many people do cross, and many of them do so regularly. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2019, there were over 188 million crossings on foot, and in cars, buses, or trains, from south to north. This did not mean that 188 million unique individuals crossed the border, because many people cross daily or weekly, going back and forth to work or school or to visit family. Border crossers take their lives and culture with them when they visit the other side, so Mexico comes to the United States and the United States goes to Mexico. Some observers in both countries fear this exchange will corrupt their nation’s values by turning the border region into a miniature enclave of the country on the other side. Others welcome the influences and see more cultural choices, enrichment for the arts and education, a wider variety of medical services, and new economic opportunities. The perception of the border, like the reality, is not one thing.

The U.S.-Mexico border is perhaps the most traversed in the world. But it is not just people that cross. The United States and Mexico have the second largest trade relationship of any two countries in the world; the largest is trade between the United States and Canada, but only by a relatively small amount. Most of the trade between the United States and its two neighbors crosses the border in trucks and adds to the flow of border crossing. Simultaneously, the flow of goods and people is amplified by the flow of money and finance, including large investments in manufacturing, trade finance, remittances of migrants, tourist dollars, cross-border shopping, the purchase of medical services, and other payments and receipts.

Jesús Rosales featured on Arizona Public Media

February 14, 2024

Jesús Rosales was interviewed on Arizona Public Media about the book he co-edited with Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez: La Plonqui: The Literary Life and Work of Margarita Cota-Cárdenas. The video also features an interview with Margarita Cota-Cárdenas at her 82nd birthday celebration. Cota-Cárdenas was a pioneer in Chicano Studies: the first courses she taught in Chicano literature were in Spanish at Arizona State University. Watch the full video here.

In the interview, Rosales said, “Margarita is part of the Chicano movement writers from the sixties and seventies. I believe she is a pioneer in the sense that she was one of the first writers who introduced courses also at the university level of Chicano writers. She wrote most of her stuff in Spanish and in Spanglish. It was a really challenging writing for her and for the readers as well.”

About the book:

Celebrating more than forty years of creative writing by Chicana author Margarita Cota-Cárdenas, this volume includes critical essays, reflections, interviews, and previously unpublished writing by the author herself to document the lifelong craft and legacy of a pioneering writer in the field.

Nicknamed “La Plonky” by her family after a made-up childhood song, Cota-Cárdenas grew up in California, taught almost exclusively in Arizona, and produced five major works (two novels and three books of poetry) that offer an expansive literary production spanning from the 1960s to today. Her perspectives on Chicana identity, the Chicanx movement, and the sociopolitical climate of Arizona and the larger U.S.-Mexico border region represent a significant contribution to the larger body of Chicanx literature. Additionally, the volume explores her perspectives on issues of gender, sexuality, and identity related to the Chicanx experience over time.

UA Press Wins Three PubWest Design Awards

February 12, 2024

Congratulations to The University of Arizona Press Editing, Design, and Production team: Amanda Krause, Leigh McDonald, and Sara Thaxton! Because of their amazing creativity and dedication to excellence, the team received three awards for book design at The Publishers Association of the West’s (PubWest) 2024 conference.

UA Press designers won gold in the Academic/Reference category for Woven from the Center, Native Basketry in the Southwest by Diane Dittemore. The awards committee noted about Woven from the Center: “Amazing cover! Perfectly on point for the genre. Great design and package all around. Good crossover potential from Academic to trade.”

Judges awarded silver to UA Press in the Adult Trade Book (Non-illustrated) category for Rim to River by Tom Zoellner. Finally, UA Press received bronze in the Academic/Reference/Non-Trade category for When Language Broke Open, edited by Alan Pelaez Lopez.

PubWest is a national trade organization of publishers and associated publishing-related members. The association presents annual design awards for book design, book cover design, and graphic novel design.

TFOB 2024: Book Signings & Panels with Our Authors

February 8, 2024

Join us for the 2024 Tucson Festival of Books on March 9th and 10th! We will be setting up shop on the University of Arizona campus for a weekend of literary fun.

We are thrilled to have a wide variety of authors presenting on panels and signing books in our booth this year. Stop by booth #242 to browse our amazing books and get them signed by the authors below. All books will be 25% off during the festival, and as always, we’ll have our ever-popular $5 book shelf.

Take a look at the schedule below to find out where and when you can meet our authors, or view the complete Tucson Festival of Books schedule. We look forward to seeing you at the festival!

Book Signing Schedule

Saturday, March 9

10:00 AM: Judith X. Becerra, author of Elephant Trees, Copales, and Cuajiotes

11:00 AM: Daisy Ocampo, author of Where We Belong

12:00 PM: Simon J. Ortiz, author of Light as Light

12:30 PM: Dante S. Lauretta, Catherine W. V. Wolner & Carina A. Bennett, authors of Bennu 3-D

1:00 PM: Shelby Tisdale & A. Thomas Cole, authors of No Place for a Lady & Restoring the Pitchfork Ranch

2:00 PM: Tim Z. Hernandez & Reyes Ramirez , authors of All They Will Call You & Book of Wanderers

Sunday, March 10

10:00 AM: Diego Báez, author of Yaguareté White

11:00 AM: Diane D. Dittemore, author of Woven from the Center

1:00 PM: Tom Zoellner, author of Rim to River

2:00 PM: Stephen J. Pyne, author of Pyrocene Park


Panel Schedule – Saturday, March 9th

10:00 AM

Title:Intersections of Verse y Voz
Location:Nuestras Raíces Stage
Date/Time:Saturday, 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Panelists:Mari Herreras, Simon Ortiz, Brandon Som
Moderators:Melo Dominguez
Genres:Nuestras Raices, Poetry
Signing Area:Pima County Public Library/Nuestras Raíces/Craft Tent & Signing Area
Description:Discover the work of these poets with Southwestern roots who explore the intersection of language, identity, and place in their writing.
Title:Unearthing Legacies
Location:WNPA Stage
Date/Time:Saturday, 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Panelists:Melissa Sevigny, Shelby Tisdale
Moderators:Marie Buck
Genres:Nature / Environment
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – National Parks
Description:Embark on a captivating journey as you hear the authors tell two remarkable stories. Discover the trailblazing life of Marjorie Ferguson Lambert, a pioneer in southwestern archaeology, and then brace yourself for the daring 1938 expedition of botanists Elzada Clover and Lois Jotter as they braved the treacherous Colorado River. Learn about these untold adventures and resilience of these women that helped shape the American West.
Title:The Wonders of Bennu
Location:Science City – Main Stage
Date/Time:Saturday, 10:00 am to 11:00 am
Panelists:Carina Bennett, Dante Lauretta, Cat Wolner
Moderators:Jennifer Casteix
Genres:Science / Medicine / Technology
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – Science City
Description:The authors of “Bennu 3-D” share the story of OSIRIS-REx and Bennu through vivid descriptions and extraordinary photos. Listeners and readers of the book will feel like they are right there exploring along with the scientists.

11:30 AM

Title:Dual Identities in the Americas
Location:Student Union Kiva
Date/Time:Saturday, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Panelists:Diego Báez, Manuel López, Reyes Ramirez
Moderators:Estella González
Genres:Poetry
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – UA Bookstore, Main Floor
Description:Three experimental poets discuss how their Salvadoran, Paraguayan, and Mexican heritage has impacted their poetry and their lives.

1:00 PM

Title:Restoring Indigenous Heritage
Location:WNPA Stage
Date/Time:Saturday, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm
Panelists:Daisy Ocampo, Jared Orsi
Moderators:Jacelle Ramon-Sauberan
Genres:Nature / Environment
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – National Parks
Description:Join these two insightful authors for a profound discussion as they explore the preservation of the land and its people. Discover the connection between ecological sustainability, spiritual landscapes, and community well-being in a conversation that reaches beyond the border of time and tradition.

2:30

Title:Looking Beyond the Stars
Location:Science City – Main Stage 
Date/Time:Saturday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Panelists:Dante Lauretta, Aomawa Shields
Moderators:Carmala Garzione
Genres:Science / Medicine / Technology
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – Science City
Description:Award-winning space scientists Aomawa Shields and Dante Lauretta sit down with Science Dean Carmala Garzione and share the stories that shaped them to do the extraordinary.

4:00 PM

Title:Nature’s Revival
Location:WNPA Stage 
Date/Time:Saturday, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Panelists:A. Thomas Cole, Curtis Freese
Moderators:Jessica Moreno
Genres:Nature / Environment
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – National Parks
Description:Have you ever wondered how you can help the environment? Listen as these two remarkable individuals, dedicated to ecosystem restoration, share their experiences and inspiration for renewing unique habitats. Discover how we can all contribute to a sustainable and thriving future.

Panel Schedule – Sunday, March 10

10:00 AM

Title:Tales from the Trail
Location:WNPA Stage
Date/Time:Sunday, 10:00 am – 11:00 am
Panelists:Suzanne Roberts, Tom Zoellner
Moderators:Wendy Lotze
Genres:Nature / Environment
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – National Parks
Description:Explore the profound journey of these two authors as they share tales of inspiration, contemplation, and realization. Discover how the trails they traveled became more than a physical experience, but a symbolic connection on a path to greater understanding.

11:30 AM

Title:A Celebration of Southwest Poetry
Location:Student Union Kiva
Date/Time:Sunday, 11:30 am – 12:30 pm
Panelists:Tommy Archuleta, Mari Herreras, Simon Ortiz, Brandon Som
Moderators:Gregory McNamee
Genres:Poetry
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – UA Bookstore, Main Floor
Description:Today we will celebrating the top works of poetry as judged by the Southwest Books of the Year Award. These four accomplished poets will share the inspiration for their work that is deeply rooted in the Southwest.

1:00 PM

Title:What’s New Latino Poetry
Location:Student Union Kiva
Date/Time:Sunday, 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm
Panelists:Diego Báez, Tim Z. Hernandez, Reyes Ramirez
Moderators:Paola Valenzuela
Genres:Poetry
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – UA Bookstore, Main Floor
Description:In this session we will invite three popular poets to discuss their approach to contemporary themes of Latino identity.

2:30 PM

Title:Iconic Southwest Poets in Conversation
Location:Student Union Kiva
Date/Time:Sunday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Panelists:Simon Ortiz, Ofelia Zepeda
Moderators:Paola Valenzuela
Genres:Poetry
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – UA Bookstore, Main Floor
Description:Iconic Indigenous poets Simon J. Ortiz and Ofelia Zepeda discuss their poetic journeys.
Title:Distinctively Arizona
Location:UA Library/Special Collections
Date/Time:Sunday, 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Panelists:Virgil Hancock III, Tom Holm, Tom Zoellner
Moderators:Mark Athitakis
Genres:Southwest Books of the Year
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – Integrated Learning Center
Description:Iconic Indigenous poets Simon J. Ortiz and Ofelia Zepeda discuss their poetic journeys.

4:00 PM

Title:Discovering Arizona
Location:Student Union Santa Rita
Date/Time:Sunday, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Panelists:Chels Knorr, Roger Naylor, Tom Zoellner
Moderators:Kelly Vaughn
Genres:Memoir / Essays / Creative Nonfiction, Nature / Environment
Signing Area:Sales & Signing Area – UA BookStore Tent
Description:Are you interested in exploring the Grand Canyon State? These three authors have been there and done that. What is more, they love talking about it, and will be happy to recommend their favorite places to hike and explore.

For the full festival schedule, click here.

2024 AWP Conference: Discounts, New Books, and More

February 5, 2024

We are thrilled to be attending the 2024 AWP Conference & Bookfair in Kansas City, Missouri, this week! From February 7 to 10, find us at booth #821 to browse our latest titles and meet with editor Elizabeth Wilder, who oversees our two award-winning series, Camino del Sol and Sun Tracks.

If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our booth, we’ve got you covered: use AZAWP24 for 35% off all titles through 3/9/24.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? To learn more about publishing with us, click here.

New & Featured Poetry, Fiction, and Nonfiction Titles

Winner of the 2023 Ambroggio Prize of the Academy of American Poets

Aflame with desire, the eye conjures, dreams, invents itself, sees what it wants. The eye sees what it is able to see. Ojo en celo / Eye in Heat brings into sharp relief the limits of our gaze. It shows us what it is to escape the mirror and move beyond mirages. Margarita Pintado Burgos invites us to ponder the impasse while showing us ways to see better, to break the habit of lying, and to confront images along with language.

In Diego Báez’s debut collection, Yaguareté White, English, Spanish, and Guaraní encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar. The son of a Paraguayan father and a mother from Pennsylvania, Báez grew up in central Illinois as one of the only brown kids on the block—but that didn’t keep him from feeling like a gringo on family visits to Paraguay. Exploring this contradiction as it weaves through experiences of language, self, and place, Báez revels in showing up the absurdities of empire and chafes at the limits of patrimony, but he always reserves his most trenchant irony for the gaze he turns on himself.

Elegiac and powerful, Ancient Light uses lyric, narrative, and concrete poems to give voice to some of the most pressing ecological and social issues of our time. With vision and resilience, Kimberly Blaeser’s poetry layers together past, present, and futures. Against a backdrop of pandemic loss and injustice, MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), hidden graves at Native American boarding schools, and destructive environmental practices, Blaeser’s innovative poems trace pathways of kinship, healing, and renewal. With an Anishinaabe sensibility, her words and images invoke an ancient belonging and voice the deep relatedness she experiences in her familiar watery regions of Minnesota.

Light As Light is acclaimed poet Simon J. Ortiz’s first collection in twenty years. The poems in this volume celebrate the wonders and joy of love in the present while also looking back with both humorous and serious reflections on youth and the stories, scenes, people, and places that shape a person’s life. Light As Light brims with giddy, wistful long-distance love poems that offer a dialogue between the speaker and his beloved. Written in Ortiz’s signature conversational style, this volume claims poetry for everyday life. The collection also includes prayer poems written for the speaker’s son; poems that retell traditional Acoma stories and history; and poems that engage environmental, political, and social justice issues—making for a well-rounded collection that blends the playful and the profound.

When Language Broke Open collects the creative offerings of forty-five queer and trans Black writers of Latin American descent who use poetry, prose, and visual art to illustrate Blackness as a geopolitical experience that is always changing. Telling stories of Black Latinidades, this anthology centers the multifaceted realities of the LGBTQ community. By exploring themes of memory, care, and futurity, these contributions expand understandings of Blackness in Latin America, the Caribbean, and their U.S.-based diasporas. The works collected in this anthology encompass a multitude of genres—including poetry, autobiography, short stories, diaries, visual art, and a graphic memoir—and feature the voices of established writers alongside emerging voices.

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, two guardedly neighboring families have plunged headlong into a harrowing week. Rose Marie DuPre, wife and mother, has abandoned her family. On the doorstep of the Gonzales home, long-lost rebel Inez appears. As Rose Marie’s husband, Huck (manager of a maquiladora), and Inez’s brother, Jerry (a college professor), struggle separately with the new shape of their worlds, Lourdes, the Mexican maid who works in both homes, finds herself entangled in the lives of her employers, even as she grapples with a teenage daughter who only has eyes for el otro lado—life, American style. All That Rises is a story in which mysteries are unraveled, odd alliances are forged, and the boundaries between lives blur in destiny-changing ways—all in a place where the physical border between two countries is as palpable as it is porous, and the legacies of history are never far away.

Featured Series

Camino del Sol was established in 1994 by writer and poet Ray Gonzalez. As one of the first publishers to spotlight poetry, fiction, and essays from both emerging and established voices in Latinx literature, the University of Arizona Press and its critically acclaimed Camino del Sol series have provided a literary home for distinguished writers such as Juan Felipe Herrera, Carmen Giménez Smith, Luis Alberto Urrea, Richard Blanco, Alberto Ríos, Pat Mora, Tim Z. Hernandez, Emmy Pérez, and Francisco X. Alarcón.

Sun Tracks was one of the first publishing programs to focus exclusively on the creative works of Native Americans. Launched in 1971, the series has included more than eighty volumes of poetry, prose, art, and photography by such distinguished artists as Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Simon J. Ortiz, Carter Revard, and Luci Tapahonso.

For questions or to submit a proposal to any of these series, please contact Elizabeth Wilder, EWilder@uapress.arizona.edu.

Celebrating “Light As Light”: Photos from Simon J. Ortiz’s Poetry Reading

February 1, 2024

Our wonderful Tucson community came out on January 30, to celebrate the publication of Simon J. Ortiz’s first collection of poems in 20 years, Light As Light. Hosted by the University of Arizona’s Special Collections, we had the privilege of hearing Simon read from his poems. Afterward, Ortiz discussed language, literature, and sovereignty in a conversation with Ofelia Zepeda. The event was sponsored by The University of Arizona Press, the University Libraries Special Collections, and the University of Arizona Poetry Center. Special thanks to everyone who came out to support our authors!

Enjoy the photos below for a recap of the event:

Simon J. Ortiz introducing himself in Keres and English at the University of Arizona Library’s Special Collections Reading Room.
Author Simon J. Ortiz reading from his first book in 20 years, Light as Light (University of Arizona Press, 2024)
Simon Ortiz and Ofelia Zepeda in conversation about poetry, place, the power of language, Indigenous literature, and sovereignty. As Ortiz observed during the discussion, “More language, more knowledge.”
Simon Ortiz and Ofelia Zepeda answering questions (and receiving praise) from the audience.
Simon Ortiz signing copies of Light as Light for Tucson community members.
A long line of patient attendees waited to get their books signed and meet the authors. In the background are materials from the Special Collections exhibit, “Sanctuary: Who Belongs Here? The Search for Homeland on the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1848 to Today,” on exhibit until August 9, 2024.

About the book:

Light As Light is acclaimed poet Simon J. Ortiz’s first collection in twenty years. The poems in this volume celebrate the wonders and joy of love in the present while also looking back with both humorous and serious reflections on youth and the stories, scenes, people, and places that shape a person’s life. Light As Light brims with giddy, wistful long-distance love poems that offer a dialogue between the speaker and his beloved. Written in Ortiz’s signature conversational style, this volume claims poetry for everyday life as the poems find the speaker on a morning run, burnt out from academic responsibilities, missing his beloved, reflecting on sobriety, walking the dog, and pondering the act of poem making. The collection also includes prayer poems written for the speaker’s son; poems that retell traditional Acoma stories and history; and poems that engage environmental, political, and social justice issues—making for a well-rounded collection that blends the playful and the profound.

Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo) is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and storyteller, and a retired Regents Professor of English and American Indian Studies at Arizona State University. Ortiz is the author of Out There SomewhereMen on the Moon: Collected Short StoriesAfter and Before the LightningWoven Stone, and from Sand Creek. He is also the editor of Beyond the Reach of Time and Change: Native American Reflections on the Frank A. Rinehart Photograph Collection and Speaking for the Generations: Native Writers on Writing, as well as the author of the children’s book, The Good Rainbow Road. In 1982, Ortiz won a Pushcart Prize for from Sand Creek. He is also the recipient of the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Writer’s Award, the New Mexico Humanities Council Humanitarian Award, the National Endowment for the Arts Discovery Award, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, and he was an Honored Poet at the 1981 White House Salute to Poetry. In 1993, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers (the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers) and the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas.

2023 Southwest Book Award Winners

January 24, 2024

We are thrilled to announce that two of our books were recently selected as 2023 Southwest Book Award winners! Nuclear Nuevo México by Myrriah Gómez and Rim to River: Looking into the Heart of Arizona by Tom Zoellner have both been selected by the Border Regional Library Association, along with four other books. See the full list of 2023 winning titles at the BRLA website.

The Border Regional Library Association (BRLA) “is an organization founded in 1966 for the promotion of library service and librarianship in the El Paso/Las Cruces/Juárez Metroplex. Current membership includes over 100 Librarians, Paraprofessionals, Media Specialists, Library Friends and Trustees from all types of libraries in the Tri-State area of Trans-Pecos Texas, Southern New Mexico and Northern Chihuahua.”

About the books:

Contrary to previous works that suppress Nuevomexicana/o presence throughout U.S. nuclear history, Nuclear Nuevo México focuses on recovering the voices and stories that have been lost or ignored in the telling of this history. By recuperating these narratives, Myrriah Gómez tells a new story of New Mexico, one in which the nuclear history is not separate from the collective colonial history of Nuevo México but instead demonstrates how earlier eras of settler colonialism laid the foundation for nuclear colonialism in New Mexico.

Gómez examines the experiences of Nuevomexicanas/os who have been impacted by the nuclear industrial complex, both the weapons industry and the commercial industry. Gómez argues that Los Alamos was created as a racist project that targeted poor and working-class Nuevomexicana/o farming families, along with their Pueblo neighbors, to create a nuclear empire. The resulting imperialism has left a legacy of disease and distress throughout New Mexico that continues today.

Tom Zoellner walked across the length of Arizona to come to terms with his home state. But the trip revealed more mountains behind the mountains.

Rim to River is the story of this extraordinary journey through redrock country, down canyons, up mesas, and across desert plains to the obscure valley in Mexico that gave the state its enigmatic name. The trek is interspersed with incisive essays that pick apart the distinctive cultural landscape of Arizona: the wine-colored pinnacles and complex spirituality of Navajoland, the mind-numbing stucco suburbs, desperate border crossings, legislative skullduggery, extreme politics, billion-dollar copper ventures, dehydrating rivers, retirement kingdoms, old-time foodways, ghosts of old wars, honky-tonk dreamers, murder mysteries, and magical Grand Canyon reveries.

Congratulations, Myrriah and Tom!

Five Questions for Margarita Pintado Burgos

January 23, 2024

Ojo en Celo / Eye in Heat, winner of the 2023 Ambroggio Prize of the Academy of American Poets, is a collection that challenges the limits of our gaze. It shows us what it is to escape the mirror and move beyond mirages. Margarita Pintado Burgos invites us to ponder the impasse while showing us ways to see better, to break the habit of lying, and to confront images along with language.

We recently had a chance to delve further into the book, asking the author about her inspiration, the translation process, and more.

What inspired you to write this collection?

What inspired me to bring these poems together under Ojo en celo / Eye in Heat, (a collection that includes poems from three previous books, and new poems) was the desire to understand myself and my poetic expression better throughout time, to share with others those findings about who I am as an artist, mother, daughter, friend, lover, etc., and to try to make something beautiful, something honest, somehow restorative, hopeful. I wanted to trace a zone in my poetics, go deeper into that zone from which a considerable part of who I am as a poet emerges. I began writing poetry soon after leaving Puerto Rico, which meant leaving family, friends, pets, sounds, smells, the landscape…I was departing from myself (in a sense), and I was very aware of that. What moved me to write poetry in the first place was, I think, a sense of displacement, and a desire to belong. I realized language was a place I could belong to. That discovery filled me with hope.  

What was it like working with Alejandra Quintana Arocho to create the English translations?

I loved working with Alejandra. She is cool and relaxed but also very responsible, organized, mature, and receptive to my ideas. You know, it is different when you are translating a writer who is bilingual, like I am. It can be either frustrating or fulfilling for the translator. Alejandra is super bright and confident, so it was definitively fulfilling. I learned a lot with her, and I hope she learned too about the whole process. We enjoyed getting into deep conversations trying to find the perfect sound and meaning, without losing the cultural reference or linguistic twist, etc. I would describe her and our approach as conservative, with a twist here and there. Conservative, but exciting. Alejandra’s translations attempted to be as close as possible to the original language, choosing words that resemble meaning and sound, respecting the syntax, the word choice, the mood. She is a creative translator who is not trying to replace the poet. So, she uses her creativity to solve problems, not to change the poem. She can really listen to a poem. That’s huge. I have worked with other translators who are kind of deaf to the poem. They can read the words, they can understand the words, but they don’t get the whispers, the silence of the poem. Alejandra does. That, I repeat, is huge. Some poems were a real challenge because I use a lot of repetition and alliteration, and words that are open to more than one interpretation. Trying to convey all of that was like trying to solve a puzzle. But Alejandra is great at solving puzzles, so we never really struggle too much, I don’t think. I remember we took our time deciding on how to translate the title of the poem “Espantar unos pájaros”/“Shooing Some Birds.” We felt that “espantar” was such a serious word compared to “shooing,” but we decided that it really captured what I was trying to express, which is shooing (literal and metaphorical) birds. Also, there is the poem, “Censura”/”Censorship,” that ends with different verses in each language. I suggested it to Alejandra, and she just gave me a huge smile. The Spanish version reads, “Sólo pido/ que el halcón que a veces me visita/ no me niegue,” while the English one reads, “I only ask/ for the hawk that sometimes visits me/ not to unfriend me.” There is a bit of a play in the poem with social media and the whole idea of being cancelled, so we felt it was the right choice.

The idea of observing, watching, seeing is central to this book—but I love how it is almost always a reciprocal act: a watcher being watched, an observer being observed. I’m thinking of your wonderful poem, “The Contortionist,” which ends the speaker’s narrative with a meditative move inwards, the eye turning back on itself. Has this always been a prominent aesthetic concern of your work, or did it emerge for this collection?  

I love this question. Yes, seeing is central to this book. I was referring to a zone in my poetics before, and that zone is heavily invested in what you are bringing up here: watching the world, having that gaze returned to you, and looking at yourself with the same critical eye you have used to evaluate the world. The desire to see is the desire to understand and to be critical, to move beyond the appearance, to recognize that our perception might be wrong, to consider that a scene or event can be observed from many places. Ojo en Celo / Eye in Heat, among other things, delves into the desire to see also what remains hidden. After finishing that poem, “Ojo en celo,” which I chose as the title for the collection, I felt that I had found a way to explain, to understand and to approach my poetic universe. Observing the world and imagining how the world stares back at me has been a constant in my work. I believe that moving from the island of Puerto Rico to the U.S. made me a more contemplative person, and more sensitive to how people see/perceive me. Also, I think being a poet is being a witness, so the act of watching, bearing witness, is central. We are here to listen, to pay attention to the world, and to keep discovering who we are in the process. I think the poem “The Contortionist” is a perfect example of that reciprocity, about the desire to find myself in others, and to love them, in a way. I was living in this tiny town in Arkansas when a circus came to town. In this town there was a Walmart, a few gas stations and like twenty churches. So, the circus was a big deal. I was feeling very deprived from beauty those days and seeing the performer that day, this small woman from Mongolia contort herself in the middle of nowhere… it was too much for me. I wrote the poem in my head right there. I felt that she and I were One. Both displaced, both exposed, and having to perform for others (having to fit). And I understand that we are all “performing,” but perhaps this feeling is accentuated when you are in a foreign country. 

Achy Obejas, who selected your book for the Ambroggio Prize, writes that the speaker is “both attracted to and repelled by the world.” Are there particular social, political, or personal events or circumstances that you can point to as contributing to this ambivalence?

That took me by surprise. I think Achy nailed it, but that surprised me. Of course, I can see that ambivalence, or tension everywhere, but “repelled” seemed to me like a strong word at first. I think because I am a contemplative poet (an observer) who is critical of the world and of herself, I keep trying to find a place in the world (Achy also mentioned this) knowing that perhaps that place will remain elusive. But I keep trying because I know that I am bound to find beauty and meaning in the journey. I wouldn’t describe it as a love-hate relationship, is more about just being in the world with your eyes wide open. The world is in a love-hate relationship with itself, sort of speak. I am just observing. And participating, of course. About the personal circumstances, well, I am who I am: a Puerto Rican woman who left her country and found out that returning is much harder than expected because there are not enough opportunities there for Puerto Ricans who want to contribute directly to their country. I am openly bitter about the political and economic situation of the island, and I blame both colonialism and corrupt Puerto Ricans in power. For people like me (people from colonized nations) the political and the personal are inseparable, although in my poetry politics emerge almost as a subtext, it does make its way, but it is not at the center of my poetics. I am proud of being Puerto Rican. I am proud of my language, and I am committed to continue writing in Spanish and to celebrate my heritage and my culture with hope, always trying to find new ways to express the beauty and complexity of that place I call home.  

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on a poetry book called Failing to Assimilate that explores the good and the bad, the gains and the losses inherent in the process of assimilation. It is a book about what’s accomplished when one fails to “successfully” assimilate to a culture, a country, a language, a family, new roles (job, motherhood, etc.). I am still thinking about it, but the poems are coming, and I feel very excited about it. I am also working with Alejandra on the translation of my book Una muchacha que se parece a mí/ A Girl Who Looks Like Me, and working on Distropika, a poetry website I co-direct, among other projects I am keeping to myself for now.

***
Margarita Pintado Burgos holds a PhD in Spanish from Emory University. The author of Ficción de venado (2012), Una muchacha que se parece a mí (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña Award, 2016), and Simultánea, la marea (2022), Pintado is also a Mellon Foundation Letras Boricuas Fellow and a full professor of language and literature at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. She co-directs the poetry website Distrópika.

2024 Southwest Books of the Year

January 18, 2024

It’s always exciting when University of Arizona Press authors are recognized for their work, but it’s especially meaningful to know that our books resonate with local readers in Tucson and the wider Southwest.

Each year, the Pima County Public Library releases their Southwest Books of the Year list, honoring “titles published during the calendar year that are about Southwest subjects, or are set in the Southwest.”

“The Southwest Books of the Year panel of reviewers—subject specialists and voracious consumers of Southwest literature all—are pleased to offer up their personal favorite titles of the year, complete with brief reviews to whet your appetite and leave you wanting more. Books selected by two or more panelists become Southwest Books of the Year Top Picks, our designation for the best of the best. Their choices are published in our annual publication, Southwest Books of the Year.”

Below, read about our books that were selected for 2024, or visit the Pima County Public Library website to see the full list.


Southwest Book of the Year – Top 10

Light As Light is acclaimed poet Simon J. Ortiz’s first collection in twenty years. The poems in this volume celebrate the wonders and joy of love in the present while also looking back with both humorous and serious reflections on youth and the stories, scenes, people, and places that shape a person’s life. Written in Ortiz’s signature conversational style, this volume claims poetry for everyday life as the poems find the speaker on a morning run, burnt out from academic responsibilities, missing his beloved, reflecting on sobriety, walking the dog, and pondering the act of poem making, making for a well-rounded collection that blends the playful and the profound.

Tom Zoellner walked across the length of Arizona to come to terms with his home state. But the trip revealed more mountains behind the mountains. In Rim to RiverZoellner does for Arizona what Larry McMurtry did for Texas in In a Narrow Grave and what Wallace Stegner did for Utah in Mormon Country: paint an enduring portrait of a misunderstood American state. An indictment, a love letter, and a homecoming story all at once.


Other University of Arizona Press Southwest Book of the Year Picks

The stunning photographs in Desert Jewels allow us to appreciate the spectacular range of color and form cactus flowers have to offer. For the cactus enthusiast, the book offers a comprehensive collection of high-quality flower photographs unlike any other. The photographs cover more than 250 cactus species organized by genus. The book starts with an introduction by John P. Schaefer that is both autobiographical and informative, offering a glimpse into his process for capturing these elusive desert gems, resulting in photographs so beautiful they were featured as a book of stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service.

In this delightful biography, we gain insight into a time when there were few women establishing full-time careers in anthropology, archaeology, or museums. Shelby Tisdale successfully combines Marjorie F. Lambert’s voice from extensive interviews with her own to take us on a thought-provoking journey into how Lambert created a successful and satisfying professional career and personal life in a place she loved (the American Southwest) while doing what she loved. Women’s voices have long been absent throughout history, and No Place for a Lady adds to the growing literature on feminist archaeology.

Sabino Canyon, a desert canyon in the American Southwest near Tucson, Arizona, is enjoyed yearly by thousands of city residents as well as visitors from around the world. Picturing Sabino tells the story of the canyon’s transformation from a barely known oasis, miles from a small nineteenth-century town, into an immensely popular recreation area on the edge of a modern metropolis. Covering a century of change, from 1885 to 1985, David Wentworth Lazaroff rejoices in the canyon’s natural beauty and also relates the ups and downs of its protection and enjoyment.

In Sonoran Desert Journeys ecologist Theodore H. Fleming discusses two remarkable journeys. First, Fleming offers a brief history of our intellectual and technical journey over the past three centuries to understand the evolution of life on Earth. Next, he applies those techniques on a journey of discovery about the evolution and natural history of some of the Sonoran Desert’s most iconic animals and plants. Fleming details the daily lives of a variety of reptiles, birds, mammals, and plants, describing their basic natural and evolutionary histories and addressing intriguing issues associated with their lifestyles and how they cope with a changing climate. Finally, Fleming discusses the complexity of Sonoran Desert conservation.

book cover with a photo of riparian garden in the American southwest

Bringing Home the Wild follows a two-decade journey in ecologically guided gardening on a four-acre irrigated parcel in Phoenix, Arizona, from the perspective of a retired botanist and her science historian partner. Through humor and playful use of language, Juliet C. Stromberg not only introduces the plants who are feeding them, buffering the climate, and elevating their moods but also acknowledges the animals and fungi who are pollinating the plants and recycling the waste. Some of the plants featured are indigenous to the American Southwest, while others are part of the biocultural heritage of the cityscape. This book makes the case for valuing inclusive biodiversity and for respectful interactions with all wild creatures, regardless of their historical origin.

Congratulations to all!

Five Questions for Diego Báez

January 18, 2024

In his stunning debut collection, Yaguareté White, Diego Báez undertakes a lyrical exploration of Paraguayan American identity and what it means to see through a colored whiteness in all of its tangled contradictions. We recently had a chance to talk with Diego about his inspiration, the symbolism of the titular yaguareté (jaguar), and why nostalgia might be a shared part of the Paraguayan American experience.

What inspired you to write this collection?

One inspiration for writing Yaguareté White is the desire to share stories I hadn’t seen or heard before. For all the influential authors of Xicano and Mexican, puertorriqueño, Salvadorean, Dominican, Columbian, and Cuban heritages, I’ve not encountered a single Paraguayan American author. But that’s not surprising. Of the roughly 63 million Latinx people in the U.S., only 25,000 are Paraguayan American. So it’s not necessarily that we’re underrepresented; it’s that my people comprise a statistically infinitesimal portion of the population. Perhaps it’s not surprising we haven’t produced many poets, novelists, or journalists. Or rather, it’s not surprising that publishers in the U.S. haven’t recognized Paraguayan-American writers, as yet. Perhaps my book can serve as one small step toward people like me seeing themselves in American letters.

Allison Escoto wrote that the poems in this collection share “a consistent tone of longing, nostalgia, and searching.” Can you talk about where that nostalgia comes from, or how it functions in the book?

I so appreciate Escoto’s insight, because I think “nostalgia” is exactly the right descriptor for the measure of pain that attends my memories of Paraguay. Growing up, my family flew down every few years to stay at the farm mi abuelo y abuela inhabited until their respective deaths in 2012 and 2019 (QEPD). Every time we boarded that first flight from O’Hare, I felt the faint sense of discomfort that joins the uncertainty of international travel. But that sensation always faded as the snowy terrain of Illinois disappeared beneath the clouds, and my brothers and I slept on the floor of the jet from Miami, only to arrive in sun-scorched Asunción the next day, sleepy and cautious, but embraced immediately by tíos and tías and our rambunctious primos, all of whom made us feel at home for the month we’d usually stay in Paraguay. So much of the book is informed by those journeys, and by the more profound, lingering heartache that tends to sting upon returning stateside.

It’s an experience most Paraguayans in this country share: flight. Distance and topography prevent Paraguayans from undertaking the journey overland, so many fly over. This is obviously a position of material privilege relative to those who migrate over sea and by land, or even others who must fly under emergency circumstances or conditions of duress. It’s odd to occupy this position of relative privilege, while also failing to see those stories reflected in mainstream Latinx and literary cultures in the U.S. I’m not sure whether this compounds the pain, contributes to a sense of nostalgia, or simply adds another dimension to an already gnarly, complicated relation.

In Yaguareté White, place, race, and language converge in the symbol of the jaguar. Has this always been an important symbol in your work, or did it emerge particularly for this book?

The jaguar didn’t really emerge until a later draft of the manuscript. I had originally called the book, “Valleys Full of Jaguars,” taken from a line in Argentine author César Aira’s 1981 novel Ema, la cautiva (trans. 2016). I had intended the title to be ironic, since I had never seen a jaguar in Paraguay, nor, to my knowledge, do they regularly inhabit much of the country at all. But jaguars do occupy a central role in Guarani mythology, a cosmos I did not grow up with, and one that I’ve really only learned about online. I hope this tension surfaces in the poems, between the things we access through family or heritage, and the things the internet teaches us about ourselves.

The book is also interested in language, and the word “Yaguareté” itself is notable for its suffix, “-eté,” which means “real or true” (an origin noted also by C. S. Giscombe in the aftermatter of Negro Mountain). It’s difficult for me to separate preoccupations with language and linguistic acquisition from questions I hope the book confronts around authenticity and identity: what stories belong to a people? Are they mine to tell? What must remain off limits? It feels fitting to see that uncertainty embodied in the titular figure of the jaguar.

Many of the poems in this collection are “hybrid” in the sense that they’re between forms, entering into prose or inventing their own structures, as in “Chestnut People,” which is symmetrical on the page, or “Punchline” where there are two lines of prose literally punched out of the middle of the verse. Why is this formal hybridity important to this collection?

Racial, ethnic, and linguistic hybridities are central to the identities of the book’s primary speakers and, of course, for myself, so it felt necessary for the poems to manage those variables, as well. I can’t be alone in loving the creative possibilities generated by linear and syllabic limits. Of course, I learned about iambic pentameter and Shakespearean sonnets in school, but I’ll be forever indebted to Rachel Hadas, a former professor of mine, who ran a workshop at Rutgers that required us to experiment with different forms every week. I learned a lot about my own personal preferences, but also about the liberties poets can take with any given prescribed form. Lately, I find poetic forms (and derivations therefrom) to be crucially useful when I want to begin something new. It helps me get started, especially when faced with the white, wide-open maw of an empty page ready to devour every key I punch or, worse, to spit nothing back.

What are you working on now?

I’ve been unexpectedly invested in Formula 1 racing since 2021, when Lewis Hamilton was robbed of his 8th world drivers championship. Even as a new fan, I felt personally wronged by the manipulated result of that last race in Abu Dhabi. It’s silly, but also real? I’m exacting revenge by writing a chapbook of poems about F1, which ought to just about balance the scales.

I’m also working on Season 2 of “Unique Niche,” a monthly book review column I write for Letras Latinas Blog 2 that focuses on contemporary books of poetry in translation, about translanguaging, or related to transcultural subjects. The editors, Laura Villareal and Brent Ameneyro, are seriously invested in covering Latinx poetry, and I’m looking forward to continuing our work together.

I’m also excited for the publication of Library of America’s anthology, Latino Poetry: Places We Call Home, which will include the title poem from Yaguareté White. There will be celebrations all across the country in Fall 2024 and Spring 2025 to coincide with the anthology’s release, and I look forward to those events!

***
Diego Báez is a writer, educator, and abolitionist. He is the recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, the Surge Institute, and the Poetry Foundation’s Incubator for Community-Engaged Poets. His writing has appeared in Freeman’s, The Rumpus, Harriet Books, and The Georgia Review. He lives in Chicago and teaches at the City Colleges.

Five Questions for Kimberly Blaeser

January 11, 2024

Ancient Light by Kimberly Blaeser uses lyric, narrative, and concrete poems to give voice to some of the most pressing ecological and social issues of our time. With vision and resilience, Kimberly Blaeser’s poetry layers together past, present, and futures. Against a backdrop of pandemic loss and injustice, MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women), hidden graves at Native American boarding schools, and destructive environmental practices, Blaeser’s innovative poems trace pathways of kinship, healing, and renewal. They celebrate the solace of natural spaces through sense-laden geo-poetry and picto-poems.

What inspired you to write this collection?

Because I grew up “off the grid” on White Earth Reservation, my perspective or world view has often not run parallel with contemporary beliefs. Because the lens through which we view the world arises partly from cultural influences, I sometimes see things in a different light—measure it against another value system. I have written, for example, about a “cosmology of nibi,” a cosmology of water.

The more the functioning of the current systems in power have faltered or failed, the more my awareness of older stories, traditional knowledge, as well as Anishinaabe beliefs, understandings, and ways of being has seemed to assert itself. The current paths look more and more like dead ends or like they will lead to continued exploitation and ultimate destruction of our planet as well as to deterioration of our spiritual health. Many people realize we need a new model.

I began to think of the imprint of Anishinaabe teachings as “ancient light,” as wisdom that can help to illuminate the current situation and serve as a method for navigating new challenges.

The phrase itself arose when I was working on the title poem and the picto-poem “Waaban: ancient light enters.” Both feature a great blue heron and arise out of a pair of lengthy encounters with herons. In one, my son and I paused while canoeing, mesmerized as the heron landed and lifted off dramatically, skewered and feasted on fish, and flew elongated against the setting sun. In another encounter I observed a heron panting and backlit by the sun, its long tongue visible through the thin membrane of its neck. Each of these felt like stop-time moments, but remained “flat” in the photos I had made of the encounters. I realized we regularly enhance our seeing with our bank of understanding. The moments for me felt linked to Anishinaabe stories of birds as messengers, felt illuminated by stories of the crane clan. I worked with layers of text and image to help suggest the larger context. As I added woodland beadwork for the sky and snippets of language into the image, I further solidified my notion of “ancient light” as alive in our everyday experiences and began to write and create with that focus in the back of my mind.

How did the themes of MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) and hidden graves at Native American boarding schools inform the poems in this collection?

Each of these contemporary situations arise out of a possessive mindset, a colonial perspective that claims “ownership” and the right to manipulate, consume, destroy. The power dynamic such a system represents permeates other aspects of our society—may stand behind much of the environmental destruction, for example. Taken together, I think the poems indict settler colonialism as a system. They ask: How do we survive colonization? How do we resist? More importantly, they ask: How can we recover and flourish? They ask this not only for Indigenous people, but for all human beings and more than human beings.

Ancient Light includes pieces of your artwork. Would you tell us more about how your art and your poetry work together in the collection?

Working within and between mediums feels like my adult playground. Of course, Indigenous creative work comes out of a tradition of intermingled arts—dance, beadwork, weaving, song poems, drums, etc. In contemporary literature, the work of many Indigenous writers often spills across genres and artistic forms. For a long time, I have made photos and written in several genres, I have created ekphrastic poetry in response to other people’s art or, if truth be known, in response to the art in nature. For example, I have one piece which I entitled “The Lineation of Water.” It demonstrates my long-held belief that we exist in an environment filled with many kinds of communication (with many kinds of poems) and we can learn to “read” the other languages around us.

I spend a good deal of time out of doors in natural areas, often kayaking in the waterways near our cabin which is adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The many transformational moments I have experienced in nature have over the years been cast in art as both photographic and poetic images. They began to blend and inform one another. I might have a moving photo and write a poem in concert with that or vice versa. Then, inspired by Anishinaabe pictographs and Native American Ledger art, I started experimenting with layers of text and image. I leaned into palimpsest as a form, and began to create what I call Picto-Poems.

Although different pieces work differently—some ekphrastically in pairs, some as a single layered picto-poem, I continue to play with creating intersections of meaning through layers of text and image. One image in the book, a silhouette of a Green Heron, felt like a poem itself. It moved me in the way poetry does as it pushes you beyond language into experience (like haiku). I think a lot about gesture in poetry and silence that vibrates with possibility. Both poetry and photos can bring us to the edge of the known and invite us or push us into the unknown. That particular moment and later the photo had that impact on me. I experimented with ways to match that energy in words, to match the delicate lines of the bird. I turn to suggestive concrete poetry in the process. In the poem, I use the word “trace,” and I think that word suits both visual and verbal renderings—suits each vision.

What is the connection between being an Anishinaabe or environmental activist and a poet?

For me, poetry has dual roles to play—to be beautiful as language, as art; and to do something in the world. I talk about it as both affective and effective. I am aware not everyone holds this belief about poetry or art, but in Indigenous traditions our arts play a role. They were not and are not only beautiful or merely decorative. Songs are used for healing or protection as well as celebration. We wear intricately embroidered clothing, dance on “priceless” beaded moccasins. The process of making poetry/art or using art is often tied to ceremonial or subsistence elements of culture, often arises in community (think, for example, of harvest festivals that involve song or dance).

In contemporary circumstances that celebration, protection, or healing I mention as among the roles or impacts of song poems, might extend to our environment—to water bodies, animal relatives, etc. In a culture based in animacy and reciprocity, we use our gifts responsibly when we use them for the earth community to which we belong.

That philosophical system may seem naïve or stereotypic, but in my day-to-day life I do use my writing, photos, and picto-poems frequently in my activist or environmental work. We need poetry/art because it is an act of attention and can become an agent of change. When we awaken someone to the experience of an alive world that may be new to them, we plant a seed. Seeing differently may be the first step toward acting differently. In the ideal scenario, successfully rendering in lyric a particularly impactful natural scene, image, moment changes both writer and reader.

On a yet more practical level, I literally fold my creative work into my activist work. For example, I am a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed against the United States to protect the BWCAW from potential copper mining. The official declaration I wrote actually includes passages extracted from creative works—since that art arises out of the same ethic of reciprocity, kinship, and sustainability.

For me, one other important aspect of creative activism, especially Indigenous environmental activism, involves the use of Anishinaabemowin, the Ojibwe language. Because the language carries important teaching—environmental, spiritual, and subsistence teaching (among others)—using the language in poetry can also carry that Traditional Indigenous Knowledge into the world at a time our planet desperately needs it. Through the #LanguageBack focus initiative in the nonprofit I founded (IN-NA-PO, Indigenous Nations Poets), we recognize the way language learning and teaching through poetry supports our survivance as Indigenous peoples and protectors of the planet.

What is your next book or creative project?

I have several projects I am excited about. Although I have been less prolific in fiction and creative nonfiction, I do write and publish both. I am very close to completing a short fiction collection—I am in the arranging, revising stage. I am also more slowly at work a memoir, gathering flash memoir pieces that I can weave into a full volume with other kinds of text and images (including letters, boarding school documents, etc.).

Of course, I also have another poetry project in the works, too. I won’t say too much lest it slip away in the telling, but I have a foundation of poems and phrase my focus this way: “What If We Are Not Broken By Our Histories.” Finally (and with excitement) I am working on an art exhibit (which may become the seeds for a book) which will include photos, poems, and picto-poems. In the wings, I have a tentative editing project.

I’m taking bets on which of these will surface first!

***
Kimberly Blaeser, former Wisconsin Poet Laureate and founding director of In-Na-Po, Indigenous Nations Poets, is a writer, photographer, and scholar. Her poetry collections include Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance. Recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas, Blaeser is an Anishinaabe activist and environmentalist enrolled at White Earth Nation. She is a professor emerita at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and an Institute of American Indian Arts MFA faculty member.

January 9, 2024

In Woven from the Center: Native Basketry in the Southwest, author Diane Dittemore presents breathtaking basketry from some of the greatest weavers in the Southwest. Today, Dittemore has provided us with field notes and insights into her work.

My first encounter with Southwestern basketry was a Tohono O’odham basket I grew up with, one my grandmother Minnie Harper kept on her dresser and used to hold letters. I never thought to ask her where she got it, but it likely dates to the 1920s when she was living in Trinidad, Colorado.

Tohono O’odham “letter holder” basket of my grandmother’s (left) and two Comcaac (Seri) baskets collected in 1977 while conducting fieldwork in Desemboque, Sonora.

I began serious study of Native art in graduate school for anthropology and museum studies at the University of Denver beginning in 1975. The Native American Arts and Industries class instructor was Richard Conn, renowned Curator of Indian Art at the Denver Art Museum. The Native Arts floor at DAM was our classroom, my first “fieldwork” site, albeit in a domesticated space largely absent images of the people responsible for the works displayed. For the class, we were tasked with drawing selected pottery, basketry, weavings, and beadwork on display. This was an excellent means of studying Native cultural arts, although my artistic skills were and still are wanting! In a foreshadowing of my eventual professional life’s work, I rendered a Pima (Akimel O’odham) jar.

Drawing from class assignment to draw Native arts on display at Denver Art Museum

In 1977, I conducted my first actual fieldwork in Mexico for a master’s thesis researching one-stringed fiddles made by Comcaac (Seri) of Sonora’s west coast.  My thesis topic ended up a comparison of Seri and Western Apache fiddles. While concentrating on musical traditions and conducting fieldwork in the Comcaac village of Desemboque, I also purchased several baskets and learned from weavers about materials, technology, and cultural contexts.

My field partner, Seth Schindler, who was researching for his PhD dissertation on Comcaac material culture, later became my husband. Nothing like having a first date consist of weeks on end camped on the beach, sharing a tent much to the disapproval of a few Comcaac women.

I began work as curator of the ethnology collections at the Arizona State Museum in 1979. Included in these collections are over 4000 examples of basketry from all over the world but primarily from the American Southwest and Northwest Mexico. This collection offers limitless opportunities for museum-based research. 

Diane (on ladder) with former Curator of Collections, Jan Bell, in old basket storeroom, c. 1980. Photographer, Helga Teiwes.
A very pregnant Diane (left) discussing basket she is purchasing for ASM with trading post operator Joyce Montgomery at Peridot Trading Post, San Carlos Apache Reservation, Arizona, February 23, 1985. Photographer, Helga Teiwes. (ASM 64897) . (Daughter Anna was born May 18, 1985!).

In the 1980s and early 1990s I set out with museum photographer Helga Teiwes to document O’odham and Western Apache basket weavers. We took trips to the Apache reservations of San Carlos and Ft. Apache, and to the Pima (Akimel O’odham) Gila River Indian Community.

Diane with San Carlos Apache basketry matriarch Cecilia Henry, learning about her weaving techniques, April 18-19, 1990. Photographer, Helga Teiwes (ASM c-20843).
Diane discussing basketry materials and techniques with Katherine Brown, San Carlos Apache Reservation, Arizona. April 18-19, 1990.  Photographer, Helga Teiwes (ASM 84090).
Diane taking a close look at a basketry tus, or water bottle, prior to its being coated with piñon pitch to make it water tight, with Minnie Narcisco, Cibecue, Ft. Apache Reservation, Arizona, May 16-17, 1984. Photographer, Helga Teiwes (ASM 64817).

My first publication, in American Indian Art Magazine, focused upon unique Akimel O’odham (Pima) baskets decorated with glass beads. By this time, the weavers at Gila River (of which there were very few) were no longer incorporating beads, so fieldwork was a very limited component of this research.

First basketry publication in Winter 1986 American Indian Art Magazine.

The 1990 fieldwork at the San Carlos Apache Reservation was conducted in part to talk to weavers and other culture bearers about certain eccentric marks on early 20th century coiled basketry, to determine whether they might have special significance. This resulted in a 1998 publication with Museum Conservator Nancy Odegaard, Eccentric Marks on Western Apache Coiled Basketry.

I co-authored another American Indian Art Magazine article, Anonymous Was a Weaver: In Search of Turn-of-the-Century Western Apache/Yavapai Basketry Artists (Summer 1999). At this time there were no Apache or Yavapai weavers still making the gargantuan ollas that were the subject of this article, so the fieldwork involved visiting sister institutions.

In 2010, with ASM’s basketry collection given the designation as an American Treasure through the federal Save America’s Treasures program, planning commenced for a permanent ASM basket exhibit that came to be called Woven through Time: American Treasures of Southwest Native Basketry and Fiber Art. I served as the lead curator for this exhibit, which opened in 2017. We commenced a major initiative to acquire examples of work by contemporary basket weavers, in order to  show visitors to Woven through Time that the millennia-old tradition continues to the present. With museum photographer Jannelle Weakly, we traveled to weavers’ homes, and to galleries and art fairs to purchase baskets and photograph the makers.

Jilli Oyenque, Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (San Juan) basket weaver holding willow wicker basket Diane purchased for ASM at Santa Fe Indian Market, August 2012. Photographer, Jannelle Weakly (SWIA_2012_p33).

ASM secured the services of AZPM to create a video for the Woven through Time gallery about the continued importance of basketry among Arizona’s Native communities. We recorded weavers from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community as they gathered willow and cattail basketry materials.  Of course, the time to collect these materials is in July!  So, on a day in 2016 when the high was expected to be 114 degrees, we met the weavers and video graphed their efforts.

Diane interviewing basket teacher Alice Manuel of Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community for inclusion in a gallery video, July 16, 2016. Photographer, Jannelle Weakly (ASM 2016-325-image287).

I began serious work on the basket book, Woven from the Center during a 2013 sabbatical, envisioning it as a companion to the exhibit Woven through Time: American Treasures of Native Basketry and Fiber Arts.  After numerous delays, involving weathering the scourge of Covid with attendant museum closures and other challenges, I submitted the manuscript in 2022.

A major goal of Woven from the Center: Native Basketry in the Southwest, in addition to sharing the Arizona State Museum’s unparalleled collection of Southwest Native basketry, is to bring the weavers—past and present—out of anonymity and give them full acknowledgment as keepers of traditions that continue to have deep resonance within their respective tribal communities.

***

Diane Dittemore is the Associate Curator of Ethnological Collections at the Arizona State Museum, an anthropology museum at the University of Arizona.  For forty-five years, she has curated, interpreted, and written about ASM’s peerless collection that is focused on historic and contemporary works made by Indigenous people of the American Southwest and Mexico.

Winter is Poetry Season!

December 18, 2023

Celebrate winter with four new collections of poetry from UA Press. We publish two veteran poets, the Ambroggio Prize winner, and one poet’s first collection. May this poetry bring light and warmth to close out 2023, and begin the new year brightly.

Light As Light brims with giddy, wistful long-distance love poems that offer a dialogue between the speaker and his beloved. Simon Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo) writes in conversational style; and this volume claims poetry for everyday life as the poems find the speaker on a morning run, burnt out from academic responsibilities, missing his beloved, reflecting on sobriety, walking the dog, and pondering the act of poem making. Celebrate on January 30, 2024, with Ortiz as he reads and discusses his poetry on the University of Arizona campus. Click here for details.

Kimberly Blaeser, former Wisconsin Poet Laureate and founding director of In-Na-Po, Indigenous Nations Poets, is a writer, photographer, and scholar. In her new collection, Ancient Light, she uses uses lyric, narrative, and concrete poems to give voice to some of the most pressing ecological and social issues of our time. Blaeser’s innovative poems trace pathways of kinship, healing, and renewal. They celebrate the solace of natural spaces through sense-laden geo-poetry and picto-poems.

Ojo en Celo / Eye in Heat, by Margarita Pintado Burgos (Author) and Alejandra Quintana Arocho (Translator), is the Winner of the 2023 Ambroggio Prize of the Academy of American Poets. With devastating clarity, Pintado Burgos’s poems, presented in both Spanish and English, give voice to the world within and beyond sight: the plants, the trees, the birds, the ocean waves, the fruit forgotten in the kitchen, the house’s furniture. Inspired by the poet’s homeland in Puerto Rico, light takes on new dimensions to expose, manipulate, destroy, and nourish.

In his first published collection Yaguareté White, Diego Báez writes in English, Spanish, and Guaraní. The languages encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar. The son of a Paraguayan father and a mother from Pennsylvania, Baéz grew up in central Illinois as one of the only brown kids on the block—but that didn’t keep him from feeling like a gringo on family visits to Paraguay. Exploring this contradiction as it weaves through experiences of language, self, and place, Baéz revels in showing up the absurdities of empire and chafes at the limits of patrimony, but he always reserves his most trenchant irony for the gaze he turns on himself.

Excerpt from “Ordinary Injustice”

December 12, 2023

Ordinary Injustice by Alfredo Mirandé is the unique and riveting story of a young Latino student, Juan Rulfo, with no previous criminal record involved in a domestic violence dispute that quickly morphs into a complex case with ten felonies, multiple enhancements, a “No Bail” order, and a potential life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Building from author Alfredo Mirandé’s earlier work Rascuache Lawyer, the account is told by “The Professor,” who led a pro bono rascuache legal defense team comprising the professor, a retired prosecutor, and student interns, working without a budget, office, paralegals, investigators, or support staff. The book is a must-read for anyone interested in race, gender, and criminal injustice and will appeal not only to law scholars and social scientists but to lay readers interested in ethnographic field research, Latinx communities, and racial disparities in the legal system. Read an excerpt from the book’s Introduction below.

Ordinary Injustice is an in-depth ethnographic account of what should have been a routine, simple misdemeanor case involving a young Latino doctoral student, Juan Rulfo, with no previous criminal record who was ultimately charged with multiple felonies stemming from a toxic, romantic relationship. Incredibly, a routine domestic dispute morphed into a complex life case with multiple enhancements, a “No Bail” order, and the defendant initially facing a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Unlike books focusing on high profile celebrity cases like the OJ Simpson trial, or of people wrongly convicted of serious, violent, sensationalized crimes, this book is about the ordinary, yet systemic and endemic injustices experienced by Latinos and people of Color at the hands of the criminal [in]justice system in the United States. The book offers an in-depth ethnographic account of the case written by Juan’s lawyer, “The Professor,” a sociologist pro bono attorney, that follows the case and carefully chronicles the injustices and systemic racism experienced by his client in criminal court from the complaint, investigation, arrest, preliminary hearing, pre-trial motions, to final disposition. The result is a compelling story told from the perspective of the client and his legal defense team; The Professor, and co-counsel, Raphael Guerra, a crafty seasoned trial lawyer and retired Deputy District Attorney, and a cadre of Latina student interns who provided valuable input and support.

The murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and other unjustified high profile police killings have triggered massive protests, signaling the emergence of an international Black Lives Matter Movement (BLM) and increased concern not only with the unauthorized use of deadly force by police but the mass incarceration of Black and Latino defendants. Recent protests seeking radical reforms, have pointed to systemic racism at every stage of the criminal justice system, from policing to pre-trial processes, sentencing, treatment within correctional facilities, and even re-entry (Sawyer 2020). Because research has focused largely on the experiences of Black defendants, generally adopting a Black/White binary view of race in the U.S., there is a need for more research and scholarship on racial and economic disparities in the criminal justice system experienced by Latinos and other groups, particularly bottom-up. in-depth, personal, ethnographic accounts.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 35 percent of state prisoners are White, 39 percent Black, and 21 percent Hispanic or Latino, and in twelve states more than half of the prison population is African American. Although ethnicity data are less reliable than data on race, the Hispanic population in state prison is as high as 61 percent in New Mexico and 42 percent in California (Nellis 2016). And in an additional seven states, at least one in five inmates is Hispanic. Latinos are disproportionately incarcerated at a rate that is 1.4 greater than the rate for Whites, and surprisingly these discrepancies are especially high in states like Massachusetts (2.3:1); Connecticut (2.9:1); Pennsylvania 3.3:1) and New York (3.3:1) (Nellis 2016).

Esther Belin Named Durango’s Poet Laureate

December 7, 2023

The City of Durango, Colorado, named Esther Belin as its first-ever Poet Laureate. She has lived in Durango since 1997, and has published two poetry books: From the Belly of My Beauty and Of Cartography. Belin is also one of the editors of The Diné Reader: An Anthology of Navajo Literature.

High school student Zoe Golden was named the Rising Poet Laureate. Starting January 1, 2024, the Poets Laureate will provide a constant presence of poetry at community events. A poetry column in Durango’s newspaper, The Telegraph, and poetry installations on city buses will contribute to that presence, to “bring the magic of poetry to everyday life,” according to a press release from the Durango Poet Laureate Program.

Durango Public Library Supervisor Daisy Grice said, “We are so excited to see the poets in action starting next year. We think there will be an aura of more poetry around Durango, hopefully fostering a sense of creativity and beauty.”

Congratulations Esther!

Five Questions for Alan Pelaez Lopez

December 5, 2023

When Language Broke Open, An Anthology of Queer and Trans Black Writers of Latin American Descent collects the creative offerings of forty-five queer and trans Black writers of Latin American descent who use poetry, prose, and visual art to illustrate Blackness as a geopolitical experience that is always changing. Telling stories of Black Latinidades, this anthology edited by Alan Pelaez Lopez, centers the multifaceted realities of the LGBTQ community.

By exploring themes of memory, care, and futurity, these contributions expand understandings of Blackness in Latin America, the Caribbean, and their U.S.-based diasporas. The volume offers up three central questions: How do queer and/or trans Black writers of Latin American descent address memory? What are the textures of caring, being cared for, and accepting care as Black queer and/or trans people of Latin American descent? And how do queer and trans embodiments help us understand and/or question the past and the present, and construct a Black, queer, and trans future?

What first sparked your interest to bring writers together for this anthology?

In the United States, there is a narrative that Black people from/ in/ with heritage from Latin America do not know that they are Black, or that they reject their Blackness. This is false. Black Latinxs, Black Latin Americans, Black Antilleans, and African writers in Latin America and the Antilles each understand their experience through the unique legal, cultural, and political reality of the regions they currently live in. I first envisioned a volume that demonstrated the nuances, similarities, and radical departures that exist across the Black of Latin American descent diaspora. This collection is one that does not explain Black Latinidades but instead attends to what I think are pillars of Black queer and trans life: memory, care, and futures. 

How did living in Mexico City inform the way you edited this volume? 

I was sick and in medical treatment while editing When Language Broke Open and questions of trans* and Black futurities kept lingering in my mind, especially as I was actively witnessing the rise of anti-trans feminist organizing in CDMX [Mexico City] alongside constant news reports of Black migrants presenting themselves at the US-Mexico and Mexico-Guatemala borders. Witnessing these material realities helped me form questions for contributors during the editing process that I would not have been able to craft otherwise. While When Language Broke Open primarily includes contributions from writers based in the settler United States, the anthology contributes to migration studies, border studies, and trans* feminist studies in unique and crucial ways

Mexico City also helped me contextualize why the volume is necessary: In the introduction to When Language Broke Open, I outline being racially profiled in my own country of birth and having to guarantee local police that I am indeed Mexican despite my Blackness. This constant interaction with the nation-state made me realize that Black Latin Americans are often treated as foreigners and/or irregular migrants in our countries of birth, and when we do leave our countries, we become doubly displaced, which is a theme that evolves as readers read about the migratory journeys from contributors with roots in South America, Central America, North America, and the Antilles. The volume does not, however, solely critique our countries of birth for this displacement. Instead, the volume critically analyses settler colonialism, capitalism, ableism, trans* misogyny, and Indigenous and Black erasure as forces that shape our different experiences across the hemisphere.

Why did you include a variety of genres in this anthology? 

While putting the call for submissions together, I was interested in narratives that explored queer and trans* Blackness in the everyday, not only through “memorable events” such as coming out of the closet, experiencing racial or gender violence, etc. Expanding the genres felt like the only way to get to the quotidian experiences of–for example–watching a hip-hop YouTube video, washing one’s hair, blowing out a candle, and watching the sunset (all of which can be found in the volume).  I am quite moved by the way in which contributors used visual images throughout the collection: some added photographs of themselves, others of family members, and there is one series of paintings and one graphic memoir. When we read across the presented visual images, letters, and the various forms of fragmentation and redaction that appear in When Language Broke Open, readers encounter a complex narrative of how race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and culture inform the radical Black imagination.

The volume repeatedly uses the phrase “queer and trans Black writers of Latin American descent,” can you explain what this means in relation to the word “Afro-Latina/o/x”? 

One of the harder editorial decisions I had to grapple with was encountering the refusal within myself to lean on an already existing grammar and allow the contributors to lead me to new theories and frameworks. Many of the contributors were vocal about their racialized Black experience, some rejected the notion of being “Afro-Latinx” due to the ways in which the word has been used to exclude countries like Haiti, Belize, and others; some refuse “Afro-Latinx” so that readers wouldn’t assume “mixed race”; and some refused it in order to speak of African migrants in Latin America and the Antilles who have found kinship amongst Black Latin Americans. “Queer and trans Black writers of Latin American descent” is a framework that understands queer and trans* Black people as existing throughout the hemisphere while embodying different legal, social, cultural, spiritual, and historical experiences of Blackness. “[O]f Latin American descent” points to Latin America as a part of our lives while not landlocking us solely to Latin America. Through this language, we insist on multiple diasporic formations. The language in the volume is akin to collage practice: we cut what we know, reassemble our pieces, and in the fragmentations, make ourselves anew.

What is your next book or creative project?

I am working on a theoretical poetry collection titled trans*imagination that addresses the mechanisms of surveillance and criminalization that the heterosexual-cisgender gaze perpetuates against trans* migrants in the United States and Mexico. The work is informed by 10+ years of community organizing with undocumented trans* migrants who have been held in migrant detention centers and/or federal prisons. In the collection, I examine the prison as a container of the imagination and argue that we (trans* migrants) are targets of the criminal justice system for being hyper-imaginative subjects who transgress settler time and settler laws with our visions of the future and our practices of kinship-making.

***
Alan Pelaez Lopez is an Afro-Indigenous poet and installation and adornment artist from Oaxaca, Mexico. Their work attends to the realities of undocumented migrants in the United States, the Black condition in Latin America, and the transgender imagination. They are an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis.

Open Arizona Adds 26 New Titles

November 30, 2023

The University of Arizona Press is pleased to announce that 26 titles have been added to Open Arizona. The titles are available Open Access for download or can be read online. These new additions bring our total OA titles available in Open Arizona to 125 items!

Now available:

Persistence of Good Living
For the Indigenous A’uwẽ (Xavante) people in the tropical savannas of Brazil, special forms of intimate and antagonistic social relations, camaraderie, suffering, and engagement with the environment are fundamental aspects of community well-being. In this work, the author transparently presents ethnographic insights from long-term anthropological fieldwork in two A’uwẽ communities, addressing how distinctive constructions of age organization contribute to social well-being in an era of major ecological, economic, and sociocultural change.

Once Upon the Permafrost
Once Upon the Permafrost is a longitudinal climate ethnography about “knowing” a specific culture and the ecosystem that culture physically and spiritually depends on in the twenty-first-century context of climate change. Through careful integration of contemporary narratives, on-site observations, and document analysis, Susan Alexandra Crate shows how local understandings of change and the vernacular knowledge systems they are founded on provide critical information for interdisciplinary collaboration and effective policy prescriptions.

Decolonizing “Prehistory”
Decolonizing “Prehistory” critically examines and challenges the paradoxical role that modern historical-archaeological scholarship plays in adding legitimacy to, but also delegitimizing, contemporary colonialist practices. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this volume empowers Indigenous voices and offers a nuanced understanding of the American deep past.

Transcontinental Dialogues
Transcontinental Dialogues presents innovative discussion, argument, and insight into the interactions between anthropologists and social researchers—both Indigenous and allies—as they negotiate together the terrain of the imposition of ongoing colonialism over Indigenous lives across three countries. The essays explore how scholars can recalibrate their moral, political, and intellectual actions to meet the obligations flowing from the decolonial alliances.

Latin American Immigration Ethics
Latin American Immigration Ethics advances philosophical conversations and debates about immigration by theorizing migration from the Latin American and Latinx context.

See the complete collection of new and recently added titles.

About Open Arizona
Open Arizona is a collection of open-access University of Arizona Press titles made available through the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as well as other sources of support. The scholarship, histories, and approaches in the selected titles emphasize the significance of the southwestern United States in a multitude of disciplines and fields, as well as the fields in which the University of Arizona Press excels in publishing.

Alma García Featured on Texas Standard News Show

November 29, 2023

Alma García was featured on the Texas Standard News Show and spoke about her debut novel, All That Rises. In the interview, she spoke about her inspiration for the book, her personal ties to El Paso and Albuquerque, key themes in her book, and how she makes the story come alive.

The inspiration from the story came from a character that she wrote about in short story 20 years ago, a Mexican-American working class gardener.

“And once I wrote the story and it was published and it had received some attention, I felt like ‘oh, I can’t quite let go of this character. I am interested in spinning a world around him.’ And I already understood that El Paso was sort of the background of where he was in his world. But as I began to spin a world around him, I began to understand that there was something bigger happening here,” she said.

One of the key themes in her book is “that history repeats itself no matter how many times we think humanity has surely learned its lesson,” said García.

Another key theme she would like readers to take away is “the idea of what borders mean in a larger sense. I mean, a border is a place that both divides and joins in. It’s a geopolitical gesture.”

If you would like to listen or read the full interview click here.

About the book:

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, two guardedly neighboring families have plunged headlong into a harrowing week. Rose Marie DuPre, wife and mother, has abandoned her family. On the doorstep of the Gonzales home, long-lost rebel Inez appears. As Rose Marie’s husband, Huck (manager of a maquiladora), and Inez’s brother, Jerry (a college professor), struggle separately with the new shape of their worlds, Lourdes, the Mexican maid who works in both homes, finds herself entangled in the lives of her employers, even as she grapples with a teenage daughter who only has eyes for el otro lado—life, American style.

Excerpt from “Hottest of the Hotspots”

November 21, 2023

Continually recognized as one of the “hottest” of all the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the island of Madagascar has become ground zero for the most intensive market-based conservation interventions on Earth.

Hottest of the Hotspots by Benjamin Neimark details the rollout of market conservation programs, including the finding drugs from nature—or “bioprospecting”—biodiversity offsetting, and the selling of blue carbon credits from mangroves. It documents the tensions that exist at the local level, as many of these programs incorporate populations highly dependent on the same biodiversity now turned into global commodities for purposes of saving it. Proponents of market conservation mobilize groups of ecologically precarious workers, or the local “eco-precariat,” who do the hidden work of collecting and counting species, monitoring and enforcing the vital biodiversity used in everything from drug discovery to carbon sequestration and large mining company offsets.

Providing a voice for those community workers many times left out of environmental policy discussions, this volume proposes critiques that aim to build better conservation interventions with perspectives of the local eco-precariat. Read an excerpt from the book below.

In the late 1980s, the famed biologist Norman Myers published a series of articles that drastically modified the global conservation map. Calling attention to locations with unusually high concentrations of species endemism found nowhere else on Earth, and areas facing exceptional threats of species extinction, Myers argued that these “hotspots” should be accorded the highest priority for protection. Myers’ original article identified 10 hotspots for protection. Two years later, he expanded his list to 18. By the year 2000, it had grown to 25, and by 2004, 34 hotspots had been proposed for special attention. Yet throughout this period of hotspot proliferation – one site in particular – the island of Madagascar, was continually recognized as one of the ‘hottest’ of all the hotspots.

It is easy to see conservationists’ attraction to Madagascar. Split off from the supercontinent Gondwana roughly 160 million years ago, Madagascar is the fourth largest island and the world’s largest oceanic island. Due to its convergent evolutionary history and unique biogeography, it is endowed with some of the most unique flora and fauna in the world. It is not only conservationists who have taken note of the value of Madagascar’s unique biodiversity, however. For years, thousands of plants, amphibians, insects, marine animals and microorganisms have been identified, collected and transported off the island for use in the discovery and development of new drugs, crops, chemicals and biofuels. Plant parts and insects are extracted out of the high, humid forests of the east; succulents are gathered in the western dry-spiny forests; and soft coral sponges are found on the northern reefs. The unique flora and fauna have distinctive biological traits and exceptional chemical properties, highly attractive to make new natural products, including drugs, biofuels and industrial products. It is in this context that they, like Norman Myers, place a special value on Madagascar’s nature.

The systematic search, screening, collecting and commercial development of valuable genetic and biological resources, is sometimes called “bioprospecting”. As the term suggests, bioprospectors, similar to those who search underground for gold or semi-precious stones, are also on an exploration mission – to locate, test, isolate, and extract the distinctive chemical scaffolding concealed under layers of cellular tissue and transformed by years of evolutionary history.

November 20, 2023

We were thrilled to see so many authors and editors stop by our booth at the joint conference of the American Anthropological Association and the Canadian Anthropology Society in Toronto this year! If you weren’t able to visit our booth, there’s still time to order the books we had on display. Get 35% off with discount code AZAAA23 at checkout in our website shopping cart until 12/19/23.

Check out the photos of the event below!

A quiet moment before the exhibit hall opened on the first day of the conference.

Look at all those books! So many new Anthropology titles to display.

University of Arizona Press Senior Editor, Allyson Carter, standing beside Randall H. McGuire with his book, The Border and Its Bodies.

Maximilian Viatori with his books, The Unequal Ocean and Coastal Lives.

Thanks to everyone who came by to say hello, browse books, and talk with our staff. See you next year!

Excerpt from “Central American Migrations in the Twenty-First Century”

November 18, 2023

The reality of Central American migrations is broad, diverse, multidirectional, and uncertain. It also offers hope, resistance, affection, solidarity, and a sense of community for a region that has one of the highest rates of human displacement in the world.

Central American Migrations in the Twenty-First Century edited by Mauricio EspinozaMiroslava Arely Rosales Vásquezand Ignacio Sarmiento tackles head-on the way Central America has been portrayed as a region profoundly marked by the migration of its people. Through an intersectional approach, this volume demonstrates how the migration experience is complex and affected by gender, age, language, ethnicity, social class, migratory status, and other variables. Contributors carefully examine a broad range of topics, including forced migration, deportation and outsourcing, intraregional displacements, the role of social media, and the representations of human mobility in performance, film, and literature. The volume establishes a productive dialogue between humanities and social sciences scholars, and it paves the way for fruitful future discussions on the region’s complex migratory processes. Read an excerpt from the book’s Introduction below.

In July 2021, the name of a young athlete was heard by every living Guatemalan with WIFI access or a TV: Luis Grijalva. A 22-year-old undocumented Guatemalan immigrant in the United States, Grijalva participated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. On August 6, he became the first Guatemalan to run in the track and field 5K final, where he ultimately finished in 12th place and established a new Guatemalan record. Grijalva came to the United States at the age of one, when his parents decided to leave Guatemala City and––irregularly––migrate to New York. After a couple of years, the family relocated to Fairfield, California, where the father worked at a carwash and at a furniture company. In 2012, Grijalva became a beneficiary of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows undocumented young immigrants to legally study and work in the United States. Thanks to this program and his talent, Grijalva was admitted with a full scholarship in Northern Arizona University in 2018. In June 2021, at the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championship held in Eugene, Oregon, Grijalva secured a spot in the Olympic Games, becoming the last athlete to join Team Guatemala. Nevertheless, qualifying for the Olympic Games was not the hardest challenge––his participation was in jeopardy due to his undocumented status. Like any other undocumented immigrant, Grijalva would be able to leave the country at the cost of having his entrance to the United States prohibited for ten years. Grijalva paid more than $1,000 to file a special petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and obtain a permit that would allow him to re-enter the country after participating in the Olympics Games. After several anxious weeks of waiting, on July 27, his petition was ultimately accepted and Grijalva made history in Japan.

Grijalva’s story brings together some of the numerous difficulties faced by the 3.8 million Central Americans living in the United States—1.9 million of whom are believed to be in this country without papers (Babich and Batalova). For example, his legal permanence in the country where he has lived his entire life exclusively depends on the existence of the DACA program, which was in jeopardy when former president Donald Trump tried to cancel it during his first year in office. Fortunately for Grijalva and the other hundreds of thousands of DACA beneficiaries, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that the president did not have legal authority to rescind the program (Totemberg 2020). However, while Grijalva is able to work and study in the United States as long as DACA— which does not offer any path to residency or citizenship—is in effect, his parents are at constant risk of deportation.

Not all stories are the same for the more than 5 million migrants from the isthmus living (with or without documents) around the world. Privileged Central Americans also face forced displacement from their home countries—and not all end up in the United States. Two well-known recent cases are Nicaraguan authors Sergio Ramírez and Gioconda Belli. In September 2021, Ramírez (the 2017 Cervantes Prize winner and Nicaraguan vice president during the Sandinista government between 1985 and 1990) announced on social media that he had been forced into a second exile as a result of his open opposition to the oppressive Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo regime in his home country. At the time of this writing (2023), the eighty-year-old man was living in Spain, dealing with the hardships of his new reality (DW 2021). In one interview (given in Costa Rica, where he first fled), the writer addressed the heartbreak that this situation has caused him and which has affected thousands of his compatriots since the violently repressed protests against the current Nicaraguan government took place starting April 2018: “I am one of the 40,000 Nicaraguans exiled in Costa Rica, and I represent them because I have a voice that is heard, but exile is very hard. My house, my books collected during my entire life are there, and the idea that I may never find myself in that place of refuge that I have had for my writing is also very hard” (Santacecilia 2021; our translation). A similar situation has been faced by poet and novelist Gioconda Belli, also a former Sandinista militant, who in October 2021, at the age of seventy-two, was forced to abandon her home country (Barranco 2021). Her poem “No tengo dónde vivir” (I don’t have a place to live) reflects the anguish of having left everything behind (Belli 2021). In February 2023, Belli, Ramírez, and ninety-two other people were stripped of their Nicaraguan nationality by Ortega’s regime.

Belli’s and Ramírez’s experiences are far from being the only ones among Central American authors and creators. Throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century, many people in the world of arts and letters have suffered exile from taking part in political struggles to confront authoritarian governments, or they have left because of a lack of scholarships and financial support to survive and devote themselves completely to their artistic endeavors or as a result of a precarious cultural infrastructure in their home countries.

Contributors
Guillermo Acuña
Andrew Bentley
Fiore Bran-Aragón
Tiffanie Clark
Mauricio Espinoza
Hilary Goodfriend
Leda Carolina Lozier
Judith Martínez
Alicia V. Nuñez
Miroslava Arely Rosales Vásquez
Manuel Sánchez Cabrera
Ignacio Sarmiento
Gracia Silva
Carolina Simbaña González
María Victoria Véliz

***

Mauricio Espinoza is a poet, translator, and researcher from Costa Rica. He is an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American cultural studies at the University of Cincinnati. Miroslava Arely Rosales Vásquez is a PhD student in literature at Bergische Universität Wuppertal, Germany. Ignacio Sarmiento is an assistant professor of Spanish and Latin American history at the State University of New York–Fredonia whose research focuses on postwar Central America and the Central American diaspora.

Excerpt from “From the Skin”

November 15, 2023

In From the Skin edited by Jerome Jeffery Clark and Elise Boxer with foreword by Nick Estes, contributors describe how they apply the theories and concepts of Indigenous studies to their communities, programs, and organizations. These individuals reflect on and describe the ways the discipline has informed and influenced their community programs and actions. They show the ways these efforts advance disciplinary theories, methodologies, and praxes. Their chapters cover topics that include librarianship, health programs, community organizing, knowledge recovery, youth programming, and gendered violence. Through their examples, the contributors show how they negotiate their peoples’ knowledge systems with knowledge produced in Indigenous studies programs, demonstrating how they understand the relationship between their people, their nations, and academia. We share an excerpt from the book’s Introduction below.

From the Skin: Defending Indigenous Nations Using Theory and Praxis originates from conversations at the 2016 American Indian Studies Association (AISA) conference held at Arizona State University. The membership met to consider the theme “Native Leadership in Community Building.” Each year the conference concludes with an association business meeting where new board members and the president are nominated and voted on. Once the new board is selected, they decide on the conference location for the next year. We both remember that year for separate conversations. The first conversation had to do with organizational direction and the nomination and election process. The board and membership discussed ways the organization could grow and the areas in which we should put our focus. The membership broadly recognized that the AISA could do more to formalize structure and establish new protocols, so the board established committees to research non-profit status and the adoption of bylaws. Conference attendees then nominated new board members and a president.

The second conversation among J. Jeffery Clark, Eric Hardy, Madison Fulton, and Waquin Preston happened after the business meeting ended. They all listened and participated in the business meeting discussions, offering their professional skills and knowledge to help the organization. Their post-business meeting conversation was about more than offering their abilities because they discussed the organization’s direction and their specific place within it and the field more broadly. They had all attended association meetings throughout their undergraduate studies, sometimes to present but other times to hear panels and to be in community. As graduates of Indigenous Studies programs, some of them had moved on to professional careers, while others enrolled in masters’ programs. They found themselves at a crossroads, recognizing that their work in Indigenous Studies was not visible because they weren’t academic professionals. But they valued and applied the scholarship and intellectual conversations that shaped their thinking and informed their community work. They asked: What is our place in this association? What is our place in the discipline? Does our work in the community have a place? Is our work taken seriously? They knew the worthiness of their work, which they felt deserved the same consideration as scholarship produced by professional academics. Because they applied disciplinary theories and concepts in their work, they knew there was room for their efforts. At that moment, though, they felt like their presence and efforts were underappreciated. At the root of their conversation and questions are matters of belonging, disciplinary scope, academic connections to community, legibility of community intellect and practices, and what counts as Indigenous Studies.

We recount these conversations and questions because this book holds space for former Indigenous students to display the ways they apply and develop Indigenous Studies in community work. If any students of Indigenous Studies have ever asked: What contributions do my practices make? What are my intellectual contributions? Where does my work belong? The response is this project, which is a testament to the creativity, commitment, and intellect of Indigenous students in the discipline. This edited collection features practitioners and thinkers of Indigenous Studies actively working with nonprofits, grassroots organizations, and academic institutions, all of these contexts represent the distinct ways to apply disciplinary knowledge. The collection of essays illustrates how the contributors apply the discipline in community contexts to recover, revitalize, and assert Indigenous knowledge systems. These individuals reflect upon and elucidate the ways the discipline has informed and influenced their community programs and actions, and it also shows the ways these efforts advance disciplinary theories, methodologies, and praxes.

The authors represent nine disciplinary undergraduate and graduate programs that include Arizona State University, University of New Mexico, Fort Lewis College, and the University of California Los Angeles, among others. The authors in this volume work with Indigenous Nations located in the political boundaries of the United States, but the intellectual labor of global Indigenous scholars informs their efforts. A similar project could have included contributors from other countries, but we limited our contributors to the US context for the simple reason of project manageability. Our process of selecting authors was to make a general call to our networks. We do not represent all Indigenous Nations from the US. We selected authors to ensure they covered a range of topics (gender, youth, education, health) and places (university, community, non-profit).

In the following sections, we discuss disciplinary origins and principles to contextualize our contributors’ locations within Indigenous Studies. Primarily, we focus on longstanding debates around the relationship between our discipline and Indigenous communities and nations. We then propose and define the term practitioner theorist to demarcate how the contributors fit in our discipline and intellectual practices and why we must pay attention to how they apply concepts and theories in their communities. We present their work in three sections: Animating Embodied Knowledge, Unsettling Institutions and Making Community, and Making Good Relations Now and Beyond. Although each chapter could fit under multiple sections, we decided on their placements to emphasize key topics and themes in their work and because we saw them in conversation with contributors they’re grouped with.

Contributors
Elise Boxer
Randi Lynn Boucher-Giago
Shawn Brigman
J. Jeffery Clark
Nick Estes
Eric Hardy
Shalene Joseph
Jennifer Marley
Brittani R. Orona
Alexander Soto

Arizona Bookstores Celebrate University Press Week, Nov. 13 – 17

November 14, 2023

Thank you to Bright Side Bookshop in Flagstaff, Antigone Books in Tucson, and the University of Arizona Bookstore for highlighting University of Arizona Press books this week! They are part of a national independent bookstore campaign to celebrate University Press Week, November 13 – 17, 2023.

The Association of University Presses‘s theme for this year’s University Press Week is ”Speak UP.” See the complete list of SpeakUP books here. The SpeakUP list of 103 publications represent the many areas in which university presses and their authors #Speak UP. Below are a few photos from Arizona bookstores that show the range of University of Arizona Press books.

Photos from University of Arizona bookstore above show our latest books in borderlands studies, Chicano/Chicana studies, Indigenous studies, best-selling poetry, and desert natural history books.

Bright Side Bookshop’s UA Press display includes this year’s popular Rim to River, the classic Science Be Damned, along with the recently published Nihikéyah, Navajo Homeland and Becoming Hopi, A History.

Antigone Bookstore in Tucson celebrates University Press Week with UA Press books, including Raven’s Echo and Cardinal in My Window with a Mask on Its Beak.

2023 AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting: Discounts, New Books, and More

November 13, 2023

We are thrilled to be participating in the 2023 AAA/CASCA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Ontario this week! November 15-19, find us at booth #211 to browse our latest anthropology titles and meet with our Senior Editor, Allyson Carter.

If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our booth, we’ve got you covered: use AZAAA23 for 35% off all titles through 12/19/23.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? To learn more about publishing with us, click here.

New & Featured Anthropology Titles

In Persistence of Good Living: A’uwe Life Cycles and Well-Being in the Central Brazilian Cerrados, anthropologist James R. Welch transparently presents ethnographic insights from his long-term fieldwork in two A’uwẽ communities. He addresses how distinctive constructions of age organization contribute to social well-being in an era of major ecological, economic, and sociocultural change. Welch shows how A’uwẽ perspectives on the human life cycle help define ethnic identity, promote cultural resilience, and encourage the betterment of youth.

Through careful analysis, Welch shows how contemporary traditional peoples can foster enthusiasm for service to family and community amid dominant cultures that prioritize individual well-being.

Urban Indigeneities: Being Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century is the first book to look at urban Indigenous peoples globally and present the urban Indigenous experience—not as the exception but as the norm. Edited by Dana Brablec and Andrew Canessa, the contributing essays draw on a wide range of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, architecture, land economy, and area studies, and are written by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars. The analysis looks at Indigenous people across the world and draws on examples not usually considered within the study of indigeneity, such as Fiji, Japan, and Russia.

Based on a decade of ethnographic and archival research in Peru, The Unequal Ocean: Living with Environmental Change along the Peruvian Coast reveals how prevailing representations of the ocean obscure racialized disparities and the ways that different people experience the impacts of the climate crisis.

Maximilian Viatori analyzes a multitude of timely topics, including waves and coastal development, the circulation of ocean waste, El Niño warming events, and the extraction of jumbo squid. This book also addresses expanding scholarly interest in the world’s oceans as sites for thinking about social inequities, environmental politics, and multispecies relationships.

Urban life has long intrigued Indigenous Amazonians, who regard cities as the locus of both extraordinary power and danger. Modern and ancient cities alike have thus become models for the representation of extreme alterity under the guise of supernatural enchanted cities. In Urban Imaginaries in Native Amazonia: Tales of Alterity, Power, and Defiance, editors Fernando Santos-Granero and Emanuele Fabiano seek to analyze how these ambiguous urban imaginaries—complex representations that function as cognitive tools and blueprints for social action—express a singular view of cosmopolitical relations, how they inform and shape forest-city interactions, and the history of how they came into existence.

The Carbon Calculation examines how climate science, the policy world, and neoliberalism have mutually informed each other to define the problem of climate change as one of “market failure”—precluding alternatives to market-based solutions.

Raquel Rodrigues Machaqueiro critically highlights the ways in which politics has reinforced a scientific focus on one possible solution to the problem of climate change—namely those that largely absolve the industrialized world from undertaking politically painful transformations in its own economic model.

Continually recognized as one of the “hottest” of all the world’s biodiversity hotspots, the island of Madagascar has become ground zero for the most intensive market-based conservation interventions on Earth. Hottest of the Hotspots: The Rise of Eco-precarious Conservation Labor in Madagascar details the rollout of market conservation programs, including the finding of drugs from nature—or “bioprospecting”—biodiversity offsetting, and the selling of blue carbon credits from mangroves. It documents the tensions that exist at the local level, as many of these programs incorporate populations highly dependent on the same biodiversity now turned into global commodities for purposes of saving it. Providing a voice for those community workers many times left out of environmental policy discussions, Benjamin Neimark proposes critiques that aim to build better conservation interventions with perspectives of the local eco-precariat.

Challenging traditional and long-standing understandings, Our Hidden Landscapes: Indigenous Stone Ceremonial Sites in Eastern North America provides an important new lens for interpreting stone structures that had previously been attributed to settler colonialism. Instead, the contributors to this volume argue that these locations are sacred Indigenous sites.

Editors Lucianne Lavin and Elaine Thomas introduce readers to eastern North America’s Indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes (CSLs)—sacred sites whose principal identifying characteristics are built stone structures that cluster within specific physical landscapes, presenting these often unrecognized sites as significant cultural landscapes in need of protection and preservation.

Featured Series

Amerind Studies in Anthropology is a series that publishes the results of the Amerind Seminars, annual professional symposia hosted by the Amerind Foundation in Dragoon, Arizona, and cosponsored by the Society for American Archaeology (SAA). Series titles that emerge from these symposia focus on timely topics like the analysis of regional archaeological sites, current issues in methodology and theory, and sweeping discussions of world phenomena such as warfare and cultural settlement patterns.

The Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona is a peer-reviewed monograph series sponsored by the School of Anthropology. Established in 1959, the series publishes archaeological and ethnographic papers that use contemporary method and theory to investigate problems of anthropological importance in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and related areas.

Critical Green Engagements: Investigating the Green Economy and Its Alternatives is a series that critically engages with the growing global advocacy of the “green economy” model for environmental stewardship and puts forth alternatives to discourses that dominate “green” practices. The series explores how different advocates, bystanders, and opponents engage with the changes envisaged by policy directives and environmental visions.

Native Peoples of the Americas is an ambitious series whose scope ranges from North to South America and includes Middle America and the Caribbean. Each volume takes unique methodological approaches—archaeological, ethnographic, ecological, and/or ethno-historical—to frame cultural regions. Volumes cover select theoretical approaches that link regions, such as Native responses to conquest and the imposition of authority, environmental degradation, loss of Native lands, and the appropriation of Native knowledge and cosmologies.

Biodiversity in small spaces is a series that provides short, to-the-point books that re-examine the conservation of biodiversity in small places and focus on the interplay of memory, identity, and affect in determining what matters, and thus what stays, thereby shaping the fabric of biodiversity in the present and, ultimately, the future.

Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies anchors intellectual work within an Indigenous framework that reflects Native-centered concerns and objectives. Series titles expand and deepen discussions about Indigenous people beyond nation-state boundaries, and complicate existing notions of Indigenous identity.

The Archaeology of Indigenous-Colonial Interactions in the Americas is a series that highlights leading current research and scholarship focused on Indigenous-colonial processes and engagement throughout all regions of the Americas. The series builds on the success of its predecessor, The Archaeology of Colonialism in Native North America.

Global Change/Global Health: Revealing Critical Interactions Between Social and Environmental Processes is a new series for scholarly monographs that treat global change and human health as interconnected phenomena. The goals of the series are to advance scholarship across the social and health sciences, contribute to public debates, and inform public policies about the human dimensions of global change.

For questions or to submit a proposal to any of these series, please contact Allyson Carter, acarter@uapress.arizona.edu.

Elizabeth Henson Essay in “The Brooklyn Rail”

November 10, 2023

Elizabeth Henson, author of Agrarian Revolt in the Sierra of Chihuahua, 1959–1965, writes about the Sojourner Truth Organization in The Brooklyn Rail. In her essay titled “When We Win, We Lose: The Story of a Run-Away Shop,” Henson details a critical event during her years as an activist and member of the Sojourner Truth Organization from the early 1970s to 1983. Similar to her book about the history of revolt and activism in Chihuahua, Mexico, the essay reveals her personal history of activism in the labor movement in Chicago.

She writes:

In the spring of 1976, Val Klink and I formed a legal collective downtown with Kingsley Clarke from the Sojourner Truth Organization (STO), the revolutionary communist group that we were close to. . . . South Chicago was grimy, with blocks of bungalows, menudo on weekends, and a thrift store opposite the bank. It was an espresso-free zone, but the train connected it to Hyde Park and downtown. In segregated Chicago, South Chicago was the one working-class district where Black, Mexican, and white folks lived more or less together. Our clients had real estate problems, contract disputes, and custody battles, a litany of tedious and intractable difficulties, exacerbated by the massive layoffs of the mid-1970s. Many had been employed by local steel mills.

Read the entire essay here.

About Agrarian Revolt in the Sierra of Chihuahua, 1959–1965:

The early 1960s are remembered for the emergence of new radical movements influenced by the Cuban Revolution. One such protest movement rose in the Mexican state of Chihuahua. With large timber companies moving in on the forested sierra highlands, campesinos and rancheros did not sit by as their lands and livelihoods were threatened. Continuing a long history of agrarian movements and local traditions of armed self-defense, they organized and demanded agrarian rights.

Thousands of students joined the campesino protests in long-distance marches, land invasions, and direct actions that transcended political parties and marked the participants’ emergence as political subjects.

Excerpt from “Ready Player Juan”

November 8, 2023

Written for all gaming enthusiasts, Ready Player Juan by Carlos Gabriel Kelly González fuses Latinx studies and video game studies to document how Latinx masculinities are portrayed in high-budget action-adventure video games, inviting Latinxs and others to insert their experiences into games made by an industry that fails to see them.

The book employs an intersectional approach through performance theory, border studies, and lived experience to analyze the designed identity “Player Juan.” Player Juan manifests in video game representations through a discourse of criminality that sets expectations of who and what Latinxs can be and do. Developing an original approach to video game experiences, the author theorizes video games as border crossings, and defines a new concept—digital mestizaje—that pushes players, readers, and scholars to deploy a Latinx way of seeing and that calls on researchers to consider a digital object’s constructive as well as destructive qualities. Read an excerpt from the book below.

In the past decade, I have taken to thinking more deeply and critically about video games, which has been my longest running and most beloved entertainment choice. Video games, just the words bring me joy and a possible connection to others— “you play video games?” A ‘Yes’ (a more common answer as the years have passed) always fills me with energy, excitement to know what this person plays and what games they love, or what console they play on, “oh PC, so cool!” I mean whatever people are playing on, I am pumped to hear their stories.
Games are full of stories, whether from the game’s narrative or from the people recounting a moment from their gameplay experiences. I once learned about an amazing game from a former student at a youth summer camp where I taught. The student chatted me up about all the games they played when at home. With excitement he pointed to a game’s alternate and shifting storylines, how cool it was that you could be three different people, and how there were consequences beyond what he was used to all in studio Quantic Dream’s Detroit: Become Human. I was also impressed by its story and how personal decisions left me asking what if I had chosen differently? Was there another way? The storytelling in video games compels me to play, to think about the game even when I should be doing other things; I revel in the stories video games provide.
Like the young boy at the camp, I didn’t know one could study video games beyond making them. I thought playing and enjoying games was all there was for me. I came to know this only because I was in a PhD program, which makes me think of how many people from other marginalized groups do not know or have the access they need to study video games? When you think about the low number of Latinxs in gaming production or in games’ representations, it isn’t surprising to see very little about Latinxs or games that continually stereotype us when that’s all we see in media. Then add the fact video games have always been an expensive hobby. The PlayStation 5 (PS5) is currently $750 in Brazil (2021, July), that’s over $250 more than the $500 US retail price. Or what about the 16-year-old Max Hayden buying and reselling PS5s for a total profit of over $1.7 million dollars? Video games and the new consoles are expensive and for the most part, because of the pandemic you are lucky to get one. All this to say that I have been fortunate in my access to the worlds made possible by video game creators and I consider it a privilege to be able to study, play, and love these stories.
We are living in a boom period for video games, in every sense of it. The attention to gaming has led to streaming favorite players, to esports competition, to websites dedicated to critiques and reviews, to next generation consoles, to more films and TV series about video games, to Twitter updates on where you can snag a next gen console; video games are it right now. Before I started to get into this research, I used to think video games had to prove they were worthy of attention or study, etc. This stance was a way for me to answer the criticism of video games being a waste of time, to study and examine the games I love to show people what was up! Yet, video games are worthy, and this idea runs less circles around me than before. However, I am plagued by yet another concern, this one more critical to unlocking the full potential of the stories I love in video games. In the face of this undeniable and infinite growth video games continue to lack diversity, especially when it comes to more completely capturing the extent of non-White peoples’ humanity. We just don’t see many stories not centering whiteness.
Video game storytelling has the potential to be boundless, to create what our other media cannot achieve, and yet we continue to see the same characters and the same stereotypes. Without diversity how can video games aspire to technology’s boundless possibilities? I’m reminded of Christopher González’s Permissible Narratives and how he writes about the limits experienced by Latinxs who were publishing their stories. He investigates how the early success of Latinx narratives set limits on the types of Latinx storytelling, creating a phenomenon of what was or is deemed permissible, which was/is based on audiences’ receptions to what stories they thought were authentic Latinx stories. He writes that “the earliest Latino/a authors were already attempting to break from a priori expectations of what types of narratives they could create; what they lacked was narrative permissibility from their audiences” (González 177). We continue to see this in the way Latinxs are represented in video games, with not much being permissible beyond the stereotypes involving White protagonists and Latinx side characters—if we even make it that far into the script.
Game production in the US (and globally) needs a more well-rounded dialogue that makes space for marginalized peoples, and no Naughty Dog Studios (creator of Last of us Two), you don’t just throw in a Latinx character and expect us to be like, “cool, cool, you did it!” I love that game, but it tokenizes people of color and treats us like horror movie characters where we have a role and then we do not, usually by brutal death. This role given to marginalized groups is usually in the service of expanding upon the protagonists’ story, just like Manny in Last of us Two. Thus, as consumers of games and producers of games we need to recognize that with the growing popularity and the immense storytelling power of video games comes responsibility— yes; Uncle Ben/Aunt May telling Spidey with great power. . . you know the rest.
Video games can and do provide a multitude of experiences that work on us physically, mentally, and emotionally. Again, which is why it is so critical to be more inclusive instead of recreating the same White male lead with a slightly modified 5’o clock shadow. When it comes to Latinxs, we really don’t exist in the same ways that White characters do. In fact, Latinx masculinities (in mostly male bodies) exist only in stereotypes, and I can only name three playable Latina characters in the last 20 years: Isabella Keyes, Christie Monteiro, and Sombra. Notable here, Sombra was only added after the launch of Overwatch, again pointing to how Latinxs are afterthoughts. How is this possible when according to Pew Research, Latinxs are considered the fastest growing group of people to identify as gamers? (Pew). Latinxs are continually underrepresented as marginalized peoples in all our media even though we make up the most sizeable portion of non-gringo peoples in the US. This erasure, this ignoring, this way of seeing worlds without Latinxs just can’t stand anymore. As gamers, as people, as heavy consumers of video games (the highest consumers of video games) Latinxs deserve better.

Photos from Alma García’s Book Launch in Seattle

November 8, 2023

Alma García, celebrated her debut novel All That Rises at two Seattle bookstores. Although originally from Texas and New Mexico, García now makes her home in the Pacific Northwest. She launched her novel at Secret Garden Books where she used to work as a bookseller. Her “OG” booksellers surprised her at the celebration. Everyone enjoyed music by Jenny&Birch and Los Flacos. Next up, Kristen Millares interviewed García at Elliott Bay Book Company. Seattle is a great town for authors and readers!

If you live in Texas or New Mexico, Alma García is coming your way:

Nov. 10: Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center in San Antonio

Nov. 11: Texas Book Festival in Austin

Nov. 14 Búho Books in Brownsville

Nov. 16 Daniel Chacón Talks with Alma García in El Paso

Nov. 17 Bookworks in Albuquerque

Readers with the book and Alma García reading at Secret Garden Books. Los Flacos and Jenny&Birch brought the book launch rhythm.

At Elliot Bay Book Company, readers celebrated the debut novelist. Kristen Millares (on the right in red) interviewed Alma García, then the author read from All That Rises.

About the book:

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, two guardedly neighboring families have plunged headlong into a harrowing week. Rose Marie DuPre, wife and mother, has abandoned her family. On the doorstep of the Gonzales home, long-lost rebel Inez appears. As Rose Marie’s husband, Huck (manager of a maquiladora), and Inez’s brother, Jerry (a college professor), struggle separately with the new shape of their worlds, Lourdes, the Mexican maid who works in both homes, finds herself entangled in the lives of her employers, even as she grapples with a teenage daughter who only has eyes for el otro lado—life, American style.

A Yavapai Night to Remember: Presenting to Carlos Montezuma’s Ancestral Community

November 7, 2023                                    

By David Martínez

Every aspect of my experience writing My Heart Is Bound Up with Them: How Carlos Montezuma Became the Voice of a Generation has been profoundly rewarding and fulfilling. From delving into the treasures of the Carlos Montezuma Archival Collection in ASU’s Hayden Library to first holding the book in my hands, I felt a genuine satisfaction with the work I created and an immense amount of gratitude for everyone who has helped along the way. However, now that the book is out, the focus is more on the historic figure at the center of my book than it is on me as researcher and author. As an Indigenous scholar and public intellectual, a unique experience in my professional career is sharing my work with Indigenous communities. Of particular importance is the opportunity to speak with an historic figure’s living descendants. On the evening of October 5, 2023, I had the honor of telling members of Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation what I had written about their revered ancestor, Wassaja, also known as Carlos Montezuma. It was a night I will always remember.

         While many today think of the Wekopa Resort and Casino complex when they think of Fort McDowell, for others the lands along the Verde River are the ancestral Yavapai homeland. For my Akimel O’odham ancestors, however, the Yavapai were o’ob, which is how we say “enemy” in our ne’oki, our O’odham language. In turn, the Yavapai called us jo’go ha’na. Nonetheless, as Arizona Territory was building its economy for the purpose of being admitted into the Union as the forty-eighth state, which it did in 1912, local business interests in the Verde Valley coveted Yavapai land and water. Toward that end, they convinced the Office of Indian Affairs under Commissioner Cato Sells to take steps at relocating the Yavapai from Fort McDowell to the Salt River Pima-Maricopa reservation. Needless to say, neither tribe was pleased with this proposition. Fortunately, someone arrived, a protector, who would fight the Indian Office, advocate for their rights, and avert an economic catastrophe and a humanitarian crisis. His Yavapai relatives knew him as Wassaja and always addressed him in their copious letters as “Dear Cousin.” The rest of the country, including my O’odham ancestors, knew him as Carlos Montezuma, the author of “Let My People Go” (1915). What Montezuma did for Salt River, not to mention the Gila River reservation, which would have also felt the impact of the Yavapai forced removal, was the story that I wanted to tell at Fort McDowell.

               When Clissene Lewis, director of the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation Museum & Cultural Center, invited me to present, it was at the behest of Irasema Coronado, director of ASU’s School of Transborder Studies, where I have a joint appointment (with American Indian Studies). Clissene, in addition to other Yavapai community leaders, were given signed copies shortly after the book’s release this past February. So, it was no surprise that Clissene was anxious to organize an event. She had read the book already and had written to me to share her favorable opinion. The only restriction with respect to the event was limiting it to Fort McDowell community members. Irasema and I were amenable to this request. Fort McDowell wanted this to be just for them. Consequently, my wife Sharon and I drove from our home in Tempe to the Fort McDowell Recreation Center, which contains a ballroom and theater stage. A sign inside called this venue the “Large Room.”

               While the recreation center, which stands near the museum, isn’t that far away from the casino and resort complex, it feels a world apart. The facility was decorated for Halloween and the workout room, gymnasium, pool, and other rooms were busy with Yavapai children and adults. Clissene was waiting for us in the Large Room. Having arrived early, Sharon and I were introduced to the small team of community members that were there to help make the night’s event run smoothly. I wish I could recall all of their names. But the night turned into a whirlwind. Not long before 6 pm, the room began to fill. Before I knew it, Clissene was greeting the audience. She then asked an elder to say a prayer and bless the refreshments. People ate and visited, all the while laughing and having a pleasant time. A few minutes later, it was time to begin.

               After thanking Clissene for her warm introduction, I began telling my Yavapai audience why their ancestor, Wassaja, was so important to my people as well. I showed them the ooshikbina, the calendar sticks, which recounted how my O’odham ancestors at Salt River and Blackwater villages remembered young Wassaja as Hejel-wi’ikam, or “Left Alone,” when he was captured by O’odham scouts, who were working for the US Army during the late 1860s. I told them what the Indian Office wanted to do to Yavapai; how their rights were disregarded and their well-being ignored, all in the name of progress. Significantly, I shared with them my feelings when Montezuma showed compassion for the O’odham, even though they were the ones that stole him and sent him into exile from his homeland. In fact, as Anna Moore Shaw related in A Pima Past, Montezuma once visited Sacaton Village on the Gila River reservation, where he asked to meet his captors. According to oral history, Wassaja’s captors, now elderly, were apprehensive about meeting the young boy who was now a man. Yet, when Montezuma met one of these former scouts, he shook his hand and thanked him for saving him from the devastating conditions that his Yavapai family had to endure in the aftermath of the Army’s invasion. My story concluded with an account from Yavapai oral history, which said that not long before Montezuma passed away in January 1923, he was taken to Skeleton Cave, the site of an 1872 massacre that shattered the community. Ancestral remains were being recovered. However, even after fifty years, the cave walls still showed the blood stains. Montezuma wept. My presentation concluded with a reverential silence, which I honored by saying that whatever one may think about Montezuma’s political legacy—he was a friend to Carlisle Indian School founder Richard Pratt and a strong proponent of abolishing the Indian Office—no one should ever doubt that Montezuma loved his people.

               In conclusion, as people applauded, a little girl, about seven years old, came rushing up to the stage. When she gestured to me that she wanted to say something, I leaned forward so I could hear her. “Can I have your autograph?” Needless to say, I was delighted. At the same time, I noticed that she wasn’t holding anything. Clissene had purchased books for community members, however, I didn’t expect a little girl to be among my readers. “What did you want me to sign?” I asked her. “I don’t know. But my grandmother said that we could get your autograph.” Naturally, like a typical college professor, I had a pen and yellow pad with me, complete with my lecture notes. I then led her to the table where Sharon was sitting. While writing a thank you note to my young autograph seeker, others began lining up to get their books signed. One at a time, they told me their names, expressed appreciation for my lecture, and asked me an assortment of questions about my book, Montezuma, and me. Among the attendees was the Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation president, Bernadine Burnette; the vice president, Paul J Russell; and the treasurer, Pansy P Thomas. Only on my own reservation have I felt so moved and honored. Thank you all.

***
David Martínez is professor of American Indian and Transborder studies at Arizona State University and is enrolled in the Gila River Indian Community. He is the author of My Heart Is Bound Up with Them: How Carlos Montezuma Became the Voice of a Generation, Life of the Indigenous Mind: Vine Deloria Jr. and the Birth of the Red Power Movement, and Dakota Philosopher: Charles Eastman and American Indian Thought.

Anthony Macías on Latinopia Cinema

November 3, 2023

Anthony Macías, author of Chicano-Chicana Americana: Pop Culture Pluralism Starring Anthony Quinn, Katy Jurado, Robert Beltran, and Lupe Ontiveros, was interviewed on Latinopia.com. In the short video, he talks about how the actors subtly transformed American culture through film imagery. He explains about two actors featured in the book: “When I was telling people about the book, I was shocked that they had no idea who Anthony Quinn is. And he has been in hundreds of movies, co-starring with all these Academy Award winners. He’s a four-time Academy Award winner and people haven’t heard of him! And then Katy Jurado—I wasn’t aware of her other than her groundbreaking, legendary role in ‘High Noon.’ She was bigger in the golden age of Mexican cinema than in the classic Hollywood studio system.”

About Chicano-Chicana Americana:

Each biographical chapter analyzes an underappreciated actor, revealing their artistic contributions to U.S. common culture. Their long-shot careers tell a tale of players taking action with agency and fighting for screen time and equal opportunity despite disadvantages and differential treatment in Hollywood. These dynamic and complex individuals altered cinematic representations—and audience expectations—by surpassing stereotypes.

The book explores American national character by showing how ethnic Mexicans attained social and cultural status through fair, open competition without a radical realignment of political or economic structures. Their creative achievements demanded dignity and earned respect. Macías argues that these performances demonstrated a pop culture pluralism that subtly changed mainstream America, transforming it from the mythological past of the Wild West to the speculative future of science fiction.

When Language Broke Open Makes #SpeakUp List

November 2, 2023

To celebrate University Press Week (November 12-17, 2023), the Association of University Presses created a list of “103 University Press Publications that #SpeakUp”. Selected by member presses to celebrate UP Week 2023, these 103 publications represent the many areas in which university presses and their authors #Speak UP. We are happy to announce that When Language Broke Open: An Anthology of Queer and Trans Black Writers of Latin American Descent, edited by Alan Pelaez Lopez, is on the list.

When Language Broke Open collects the creative offerings of forty-five queer and trans Black writers of Latin American descent who use poetry, prose, and visual art to illustrate Blackness as a geopolitical experience that is always changing. Telling stories of Black Latinidades, this anthology centers the multifaceted realities of the LGBTQ community.

Alan Pelaez Lopez is an Afro-Indigenous poet and installation and adornment artist from Oaxaca, Mexico. Their work attends to the realities of undocumented migrants in the United States, the Black condition in Latin America, and the transgender imagination. Their poetry collection, Intergalactic Travels: poems from a fugitive alien, was a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Award. They are an assistant professor at the University of California, Davis.

November 2, 2023

We were thrilled to see so many authors and editors stop by our booth at the Western History Association Conference in Los Angeles in October. If you weren’t able to stop by, there’s still time to order our western history titles. For 30% off and free shipping in the continental U.S., use discount code AZWHA23 at checkout in our website shopping cart. The discount ends 11/28/23.

Yvette Saavedra and Vanessa Fonseca-Chavez with their books. They are also editors for our new series BorderVisions.

Author Doug Hurt speaks with Editor-in-Chief Kristen Buckles.

Co-Editor Elise Boxer with her new book!

José Alamillo (center) speaks with Arizona Crossroads series editors Katherine Morrissey (left) and Eric Meeks (right).

Author Nancy Marie Mithlo speaks with Kristen Buckles.

Yvette Saavedra (Pitzer) and Publicity Manager Mary Reynolds (Pomona) realize they are both Claremont Colleges graduates. Go Sagehens!

Aldama, Lomelí & Gómez Winners for 2023 International Latino Book Awards

November 1, 2023

Francisco Lomeli, a smiling man with white hair and glasses, posing beside his book and an award
Photo credit: Paul Meyers / UC Santa Barbara

We are pleased to announce that two of our books were recently selected as winners for the 2023 International Latino Book Awards. Juan Felipe Herrera: Migrant, Activist, Poet Laureate, edited by Francisco A. Lomelí and Osiris Aníbal Gómez, won a gold medal in the “Best Biography” category.  Latinx TV in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Frederick Luis Aldama won a bronze medal in the “Best Academic Themed Book, College Level – English” category.

In their remarks about Juan Felipe Herrera: Migrant, Activist, Poet Laureate, the judges complimented the book’s inclusion of “19 writers’ diverse thoughts about the works and life of a national treasure.” Commenting on Latinx TV in the Twenty-First Century, the judges wrote that the book “would make an interesting documentary. Very interesting to read about the growth and nurturing of the development of Latina/o actors.”

The International Latino Book Awards recognize excellence in literature, honoring books written in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with the goal of “growing the awareness for books written by, for and about Latinos.”

International Latino Book Awards event group photo

About the authors:

Frederick Luis Aldama, also known as Professor Latinx, is the Jacob & Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Adjunct Professor and Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University. He is the award-winning author of more than forty-eight books, including the bilingual children’s books The Adventures of Chupacabra Charlie and With Papá. He is editor or co-editor of nine academic press book series, including Latinographix, which publishes Latinx comics. He is the creator of the first documentary on the history of Latinx superheroes and the founder and director of UT Austin’s Latinx Pop Lab.

Francisco A. Lomelí is professor emeritus and distinguished professor of Chicano/a studies and Latin American literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published extensively on Mexican, Chilean, Argentine, and Chicano/a literatures, as well as multiple reference works in the field of Chicano/a studies.

Osiris Aníbal Gómez is an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His areas of expertise include contemporary Indigenous literatures of Mexico, Mexican literature, Chicano/a literature, and translation studies. His work explores the condition, aesthetics, and social justice possibilities of bilingual Indigenous and Chicanx writers.

Congratulations to all!

Excerpt from “Construction of Maya Space”

November 1, 2023

Construction of Maya Space, edited by Thomas H. Guderjan and Jennifer P. Mathews, sheds new light on how Maya society may have shaped—and been shaped by—the constructed environment. Moving beyond the towering pyramids and temples often associated with Maya spaces, this volume focuses on how those in power used features such as walls, roads, rails, and symbolic boundaries to control those without power, and how the powerless pushed back.

Through fifteen engaging chapters, contributors examine the construction of spatial features by ancient, historic, and contemporary Maya elite and non-elite peoples to understand how they used spaces differently. Through cutting-edge methodologies and case studies, chapters consider how and why Maya people connected and divided the spaces they used daily in their homes, in their public centers, in their sacred places such as caves, and across their regions to inform us about the mental constructs they used to create their lives and cultures of the past. Read an excerpt from the book’s Introduction below.

The purpose of this volume is to examine the construction of spatial features by ancient, historic, and contemporary Maya people of Mesoamerica. As humans such as Maya peoples encounter spaces like a tropical landscape, they modify them to meet their social and economic needs. They built towering pyramids around public plazas and constructed vast networks of ditched fields to produce food and other agricultural products, however, much of the focus of this volume goes beyond these spaces. Instead, we consider how and why Maya people of the ancient past and more recent present connected and divided the spaces they used daily in their homes, in their public centers, in their sacred places, and across their regions. How does the evidence of walls, roads, rails, and boundary markers that they left on today’s archaeological landscape inform us about the mental constructs they used to create their lives and cultures of the past?

This theoretical approach is essentially a Taylorian view – one that believes that we can understand the behaviors that caused and created the archaeological data and then, by extension, inform us about their defining mental constructs (Taylor 1948). Like Walt Taylor himself, we may never fully reach that final goal. However, we challenged ourselves and our colleagues to reexamine how and why walls, roads and other features can both connect and divide space. At first blush, the idea that “walls divide” or “roads connect” sounds simplistic. However, as the papers in this volume demonstrate, the answers to our questions are complex and nuanced. To arrive where we wanted this study to end involves deconstructing archaeological data, both temporally and in terms of the behavior that created those data. We believe we have made strides in our own understanding and hope to share them in this volume by thinking about how our notion of Maya landscapes, placemaking, and memory work have evolved.

Contributors
Elias Alcocer Puerto
Alejandra Alonso Olvera
Traci Ardren
Jaime J. Awe
Alejandra Badillo Sánchez
Nicolas C. Barth
Grace Lloyd Bascopé
Adolpho Iván Batún-Alpuche
Elizabeth Beckner
M. Kathryn Brown
Bernadette Cap
Miguel Covarrubias Reyna
Juan Fernandez Diaz
Alberto G. Flores Colin
Thomas H. Guderjan
C. Colleen Hanratty
Héctor Hernández Álvarez
Scott R. Hutson
Joshua J. Kwoka
Whitney Lytle
Aline Magnoni
Jennifer P. Mathews
Stephanie J. Miller
Shawn G. Morton
Holley Moyes
Shannon Plank
Dominique Rissolo
Patrick Rohrer
Carmen Rojas Sandoval
Justine M. Shaw
J. Gregory Smith
Travis W. Stanton
Karl A. Taube
Daniel Vallejo-Cáliz

Brandy McDougall Is Keynote Speaker at Schools of the Future Conference

October 31, 2023

Brandy Nālani McDougall will speak at the The Schools of the Future Conference (SOTF Conference) on November 16, 1 -2 p.m., in Honolulu. In her keynote presentation, she will share her poems and poems by other Hawaiʻi poets, as well as reflections on her experience as both a haumana (student) and as a kumu (teacher) within Hawaiʻi school systems.

McDougall, the author of  Aina Hanau/Birth Land and Finding Meaning, (Kanaka ‘Ōiwi) is a poet, scholar, mother, and aloha ‘āina from Aʻapueo, Maui, and now living with her ʻohana in Kalaepōhaku, Oʻahu. She is director of the Mānoa Center for the Humanities and Civic Engagement and an associate professor of Indigenous studies in the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s American Studies Department.

The SOTF Conference explores a wide-range of topics and ideas related to best and emerging practices in education. The annual conference is the largest event of its nature in Hawai’i and serves as an opportunity for teachers and administrators, across Hawaii’s public, private and charter schools, to reflect upon how to better serve children. The conference is produced annually in partnership with the Hawai’i State Department of Education, the Hawai’i Association of Independent Schools, the Hawai’i Community Foundation and the Hawai’i Society for Technology in Education.

National Book, Jacket, and Journal Show at UA Press

October 27, 2023

The University of Arizona Press will host this year’s Association of University Presses 58th annual Book, Jacket, and Journal Show, Nov. 13 – Dec. 23, 2023. The show coincides with the 10th anniversary University Press Week, Nov. 13 – 17. One winning design above is from Princeton University Press Designer Chris Ferrante and The Original Bambi, The Story of a Life in the Forest, by Felix Salten, illustrated by Alenka Sottler.

The show will recognize, honor, and celebrate the work of design and production professionals in university publishing.

“There is so much knowledge and creativity in this community,” said Wendy McMillen, Production and Design Manager at the University of Notre Dame Press, who, along with Mindy Basinger Hill, Art Director at the University of Washington Press, co-chaired this year’s Book, Jacket, and Journal Show Committee. “The AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show gets better every year!”

Open to AUPresses member publishers worldwide, this year’s competition attracted 488 submissions, published during 2022 in these categories:

  • Scholarly typographic books
  • Scholarly illustrated books
  • Trade typographic books
  • Trade illustrated books
  • Poetry and literature books
  • Reference books
  • Journals
  • Jackets and covers (of books and journals)

Come check out the winners at the UA Press office, 5th Floor of the Main Library, University of Arizona.

Excerpt from “Nihikéyah, Navajo Homeland”

This anthology of essays edited by Lloyd L. Lee offers perspectives of the Navajo homeland, nihikéyah, highlighting Diné examinations and understandings of the land.

While various books have investigated Native American reservations and homelands, this book is from Diné individuals’ experiences, observations, and examinations. Poets, writers, and scholars frame their thoughts on four key questions: What are the thoughts/perspectives on nihikéyah/Navajo homeland? What challenges does nihikéyah face in the coming generations, and what should all peoples know about nihikéyah? And how can nihikéyah build a strong and positive Navajo Nation for the rest of this century and beyond? Below read an excerpt from the book.

Over 400,000 people are enrolled Navajo Nation citizens and over 150,000 live on the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Nation land base is 27,413 square miles, larger than ten of the fifty states in the United States of America.  While the Navajo Treaty of 1868 established an original reservation, Diné people always regard their homeland in relation to their six sacred mountains.  This homeland is referred to as Níhi Kéyah.  Níhi kéyah means the land the people live and walk upon called home. The Diyin Dine’é (Holy People) created níhi kéyah for the people and instructed them to live within its space.  For this book, the term níhi kéyah will be used to refer to Navajo land and the homeland.

Níhi kéyah is the world to Diné people.  While many Native Nations and communities have been separated from their original homeland through forced removal and live elsewhere, Diné people continue to live on their original homeland even though some of the land is not designated as part of the reservation. 

Níhi kéyah is more than a commodity and property for the people, it is their foundation and hózhǫ́ǫgo iiná (beauty way of life).  Níhi kéyah is a physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual existence for the people. Níhi kéyah is the core of what it means to be human and Diné.  Níhi kéyah’s energy and spirit are reflected in the creation scripture, journey narratives, matrix, and way of life. 

In this book, the eight contributors categorized in the cardinal directions will focus on níhi kéyah’s spirit and the challenges the homeland faces including climate change, oppression, bureaucracy, and the western legal system.  The contributors’ examinations, analyses, and/or reflections display a distinct Diné or Navajo matrix.  While many non-Diné or non-Navajo have written about the land, philosophy, history, and so many other topics on the Navajo Nation, each of the contributors in this book are Diné, grew up or live on the Navajo Nation, and have observed and/or experienced in their lifetime what they are writing about for the reading audience.  Their written words embody níhi kéyah, the love, and concerns each has for their homeland.  

We start with a general description of a part of the Navajo creation narratives to provide context to níhi kéyah.  The stories come from the book Navajo History Volume I compiled by the Navajo Curriculum Center, edited by Ethelou Yazzie, and published by Rough Rock Press in 1971 and Mike Mitchell’s Origins of the Diné published in 2001 by the Navajo Studies and Curriculum Center at the Rough Rock Community School.  Other versions of these narratives exist and each one, including this generalized version, are all accurate. The texts used to discuss the creation narratives have long been thought of by Navajo people and scholars as some of the most reliable sources on Diné baa hane’ (Navajo history).

Contributors
Mario Atencio
Shawn Attakai
Wendy Shelly Greyeyes
Rex Lee Jim
Manny Loley
Jonathan Perry
Jake Skeets
Jennifer Jackson Wheeler

2023 Arizona Historic Preservation Conference: Discounts, Featured Books, and More

October 23, 2023

We are thrilled to be participating in the 2023 Arizona Historic Preservation Conference this week! This year, the conference will be held October 25-28 right here in Tucson, Arizona. View the full schedule here.

One more reason to attend is a chance to hear keynote speaker, Lydia Otero, who has written extensively on urban space, place, and history. We’ll have extra copies of Otero’s La Calle: Spatial Conflicts and Urban Renewal in a Southwest City at our booth!

If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our booth, we’ve got you covered: use AZHPC23 for 35% off all titles through 11/28/23.

New & Featured History Titles

Becoming Hopi is a comprehensive look at the history of the people of the Hopi Mesas as it has never been told before. The Hopi Tribe is one of the most intensively studied Indigenous groups in the world. Most popular accounts of Hopi history romanticize Hopi society as “timeless.” The archaeological record and accounts from Hopi people paint a much more dynamic picture, full of migrations, gatherings, and dispersals of people; a search for the center place; and the struggle to reconcile different cultural and religious traditions. Becoming Hopi weaves together evidence from archaeology, oral tradition, historical records, and ethnography to reconstruct the full story of the Hopi Mesas, rejecting the colonial divide between “prehistory” and “history.”

Diverting the Gila, the sequel to David H. DeJong’s 2009 Stealing the Gila, continues to tell the story of the forerunner to the San Carlos Irrigation Project and the Gila River Indian Community’s struggle to regain access to their water. DeJong explores the complex web of tension, distrust, and political maneuvering to divide and divert the scarce waters of the Gila River.

On March 1, 1966, the voters of Tucson approved the Pueblo Center Redevelopment Project—Arizona’s first major urban renewal project—which targeted the most densely populated eighty acres in the state. For close to one hundred years, tucsonenses had created their own spatial reality in the historical, predominantly Mexican American heart of the city, an area most called “la calle.” Here, amid small retail and service shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, they openly lived and celebrated their culture. To make way for the Pueblo Center’s new buildings, city officials proceeded to displace la calle’s residents and to demolish their ethnically diverse neighborhoods, which, contends Lydia Otero, challenged the spatial and cultural assumptions of postwar modernity, suburbia, and urban planning.

La Calle examines conflicting claims to urban space, place, and history as advanced by two opposing historic preservationist groups: the La Placita Committee and the Tucson Heritage Foundation. She gives voice to those who lived in, experienced, or remembered this contested area, and analyzes the historical narratives promoted by Anglo American elites in the service of tourism and cultural dominance.

In the first half of the twentieth century, the canyons and mesas of the Southwest beckoned and the burgeoning field of archaeology thrived. Among those who heeded the call, Marjorie Ferguson Lambert became one of only a handful of women who left their imprint on the study of southwestern archaeology and anthropology. In No Place for a Lady, Shelby Tisdale successfully combines Lambert’s voice from extensive interviews with her own to take us on a thought-provoking journey into how Lambert created a successful and satisfying professional career and personal life in a place she loved (the American Southwest) while doing what she loved.

Western History Association 2023: Discounts, New Books, and More

October 23, 2023

We are thrilled to be participating in the 2023 Western History Association meeting in Los Angeles, California this week! Find us near the exhibit hall entrance at booth #201 to browse our latest history titles and meet with our Editor-in-Chief, Kristen Buckles.

If you can’t attend this year, or if you need an extra copy of a book you discover at our booth, we’ve got you covered: use AZWHA23 for 30% off all titles through 11/28/23.

Are you an author or editor? Do you have a project that would be a great fit for The University of Arizona Press? To learn more about publishing with us, click here.

New & Featured History Titles

In From the Skin, contributors demonstrate the real-world application of Indigenous theory to the work they do in their own communities and how this work is driven by urgency, responsibility, and justice—work that is from the skin.

Editors J. Jeffery Clark and Elise Boxer propose and develop the term practitioner-theorist to describe how the contributors theorize and practice knowledge within and between their nations and academia. The practitioner-theorists of this volume envision and labor toward decolonial futures where Indigenous peoples and nations exist on their own terms.

In the Arms of the Saguaros shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their images have fulfilled attention-getting needs and expectations. Through text and lavish images, author William L. Bird Jr. explores the saguaro’s growth into a western icon from the early days of the American railroad to the years bracketing World War II, when Sun Belt boosterism hit its zenith and proponents of tourism succeed in moving the saguaro to the center of the promotional frame.

While various books have investigated Native American reservations and homelands, Nihikéyah is from Diné individuals’ experiences, observations, and examinations. Lloyd L. Lee gathers poets, writers, and scholars who frame their thoughts on four key questions: What are the thoughts/perspectives on nihikéyah/Navajo homeland? What challenges does nihikéyah face in the coming generations, and what should all peoples know about nihikéyah? And how can nihikéyah build a strong and positive Navajo Nation for the rest of this century and beyond?

Where We Belong dispels the harmful myth that Native people are unfit stewards of their sacred places. In this comparative work, Daisy Ocampo brings together the stories of two peoples and places in North America, establishing Indigenous preservation practices as sustaining approaches to the caretaking of the land that embody ecological sustainability, spiritual landscapes, and community well-being.

Celebrating more than forty years of creative writing by Chicana author Margarita Cota-Cárdenas, La Plonqui includes critical essays, reflections, interviews, and previously unpublished writing by the author herself to document the lifelong craft and legacy of a pioneering writer in the field. Editors Jesús Rosales and Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez affirm Margarita Cota-Cárdenas’s significant role in shaping the field of Chicana literature and emphasize the importance of honoring a celebrated author who wrote a majority of her works in Spanish—one of the few Chicana writers to do so.

A comprehensive new work, Carbon Sovereignty offers a deep dive into the complex inner workings of energy shift in the Navajo Nation. Geographer Andrew Curley, a member of the Navajo Nation, examines the history of coal development within the Navajo Nation, including why some Diné supported coal and the consequences of doing so. He explains the Navajo Nation’s strategic choices to use the coal industry to support its sovereignty as a path forward in the face of ongoing colonialism.

Chicano-Chicana Americana is a cultural history of Mexican Americans in film, television, and theater. Through biographical sketches of performers such as Anthony Quinn, Katy Jurado, Robert Beltran, and Lupe Ontiveros, this work asserts Mexican Americans’ proper place in the national narratives of our collective imaginary. Conveying a multicentered, polycultural America, Anthony Macías shows us intriguing performers in bit parts who steal the scene and redefine what it means to be American.

Featured Series

We are excited to be adding new titles to our BorderVisions, Arizona Crossroads, Modern American West, and Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies series this year! Learn more below.

BorderVisions, edited by Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez and Yvette J. Saavedra, engages the U.S.-Mexico borderlands’ dynamic histories and cultures and expands our understanding of the borderlands beyond a site of geopolitical inquiry. We are especially interested in books that address the complexities and richness of borderlands experiences at different historical, cultural, and sociopolitical moments. Watch a recording of the series launch for BorderVisions here.

Arizona Crossroads, edited by Anita Huizar-Hernández, Eric V. Meeks, and Katherine G. Morrissey, is a series in collaboration with the Arizona Historical Society that explores the history of peoples and cultures, events and struggles, ideas and practices in the place we know today as Arizona. We are open to a variety of book formats: monographs, multi-authored works, and edited collections, as well as broader more synthetic works. Interdisciplinary projects that engage the past are encouraged.

Critical Issues in Indigenous Studies, edited by Jeffrey P. Shepherd and Myla Vicenti Carpio, anchors intellectual work within an Indigenous framework that reflects Native-centered concerns and objectives. Series titles expand and deepen discussions about Indigenous people beyond nation-state boundaries, and complicate existing notions of Indigenous identity. The series editors are especially interested in works that analyze colonization, land dispossession, and oppression while foregrounding Indigenous peoples’ resistance to these processes.

Modern American West, edited by Flannery Burke and Andrew G. Kirk, seeks to advance scholarly and public understanding of the rich history of the twentieth-century American West by publishing creative works of research and synthesis. Volumes in the series are distinguished by both original research and careful analysis of existing secondary literature. The series editors seek single- or co-authored works that identify new directions for scholarship and develop new interpretive frameworks, while also providing comprehensive introductions to particular topics.

For questions or to submit a proposal to any of these series, please contact Kristen Buckles, kbuckles@uapress.arizona.edu.

Alma García Essay in “Poets & Writers”

October 20, 2023

“Poets & Writers,”  the nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers, invited 5 over 50 authors to write essays for the November/December 2023 magazine. One of them is Alma García, author of All That Rises. In the introduction, the editor says, “These first-time authors, who range from their early fifties to early seventies, remind us that time, and its inevitable passage, is a gift that enriches our personal and literary lives and that age can make us both robust and nimble, ready to persevere, to put words on the page.”

García explains her writing journey from short stories to journalism to debut novel. She writes:

Writing a book over a very long time is sometimes a deadly enterprise. Ideas drift. The end point disappears. A lack of urgency can overtake you. You might find yourself appalled when you pass your own characters in age. You become aware of your own mortality, of the soul-sucking thought that your best creative years already might be behind you.

But if you listen quietly, sometimes you’ll hear the truth of your own creative being whispering in your ear.

Read her beautiful essay here.

About the book:

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, two guardedly neighboring families have plunged headlong into a harrowing week. Rose Marie DuPre, wife and mother, has abandoned her family. On the doorstep of the Gonzales home, long-lost rebel Inez appears. As Rose Marie’s husband, Huck (manager of a maquiladora), and Inez’s brother, Jerry (a college professor), struggle separately with the new shape of their worlds, Lourdes, the Mexican maid who works in both homes, finds herself entangled in the lives of her employers, even as she grapples with a teenage daughter who only has eyes for el otro lado—life, American style.

David Yetman on ‘Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán’

October 19, 2023

In the new book Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán, authors David Yetman and Alberto Búrquez provide an accessible and photographic view of the culture, history, and environment of an extraordinary region of southern Mexico. The Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán are lauded by botanists for their spectacular plant life—they contain the densest columnar cacti forests in the world. Recent archaeological excavations reveal them also to be a formative Mesoamerican site as well. So singular is this region that it is home to the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The authors have been traveling to the area for two decades. Today, David Yetman answers a few questions about their newest collaboration:

What inspired you to collaborate on this work?

Alberto and I gained familiarity with Sonora via different routes, he as a Sonoran-born Cambridge-trained ecologist, I as a wandering desert rat trained in philosohy. We met at a field research school in Alamos, Sonora, sponsored by Tucson Audubon Society in, I believe, 1993 and immediately discovered our shared interests. We also realized rather quickly that our areas of interest complemented each other. Two years later we initiated a study of buffelgrass ecology in the small town of Tecoripa in eastern Sonora. During meeting key members of the community, we learned that representatives of the Mexican department of land reform were in the town discussing with townspeople the prospect of converting their cooperatively owned lands to private. We at once realized this was a historic moment in Sonora and spent the next year following the privatization procedures and interviewing the landowners involved. We published an article with our findings in 1997. In 2003 Alberto joined me in filming an episode of The Desert Speaks in the valleys called Cuicatlán in northern Oaxaca and Tehuacán in adjacent southern Puebla. We realized then that we had been pulled into a region with uncanny resemblance to the Sonoran Desert. We also realized that we enjoyed working together. Some twenty trips to that area later, we have published the book.

The plants in the region are so varied and so unusual that Mexico has designated it as a biosphere reserve, and UNESCO has followed, designating it a World Heritage Site. Why is the area so singular?

The valley’s peculiar location as connected desert valleys among several mountain ranges in the tropics has given rise to a bewildering variety of ecological zones or habitats, notably a desert environment where lusher vegetation would be expected. Those unusual conditions and a climate more or less stable for millions of years have combined to produce an astonishing array of desert plants, especially columnar cacti, many of which occur nowhere else. The high degree of endemism within the valleys means that it is the place to study these species and the evolutionary processes that promotes widespread speciation. At the same time, the region has seen the evolution of peoples of many different ethnicities. We long ago that discovered that they have stories to relate that complement the high diversity of the valleys.

The Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán also have a long human history. What are a few of the ways that visitors to the area today can see the continuity of human experience?

The archaeological sites within the valleys have not received the attention they merit, so visitors often must discover their location and history on their own. Alberto and I have presented four of these and their developmental history in a way that will assist visitors in locating and visiting these sites. One such site is Purrón Dam, which was the largest dam in the Americas two thousand years ago, but today not even located on maps. Another is the astonishing site of Cerro Quiotepec, located in an extraordinarily scenic hilltop far above where the two valleys converge and form a profound canyon. It is a highly developed site that was occupied for six hundred years before the Zapotec builders abandoned it in about 300 CE. At the same time the valleys’ varied resources have brought together at least eight different indigenous groups. They have established the human history of the valleys, with connections throughout Mesoamerica. Many towns in the valleys retain their indigenous identity.

What is your next project?

We have repeatedly discussed the importance of returning to Tecoripa after nearly thirty years to see what changes have occurred in the town’s social and economic structure because of the move from cooperatively owned to privately-owned land. We also have many places of ecological and social significance that we would like to visit, study, and describe. We have separate careers, but we remain close friends with a tacit agreement that soon we must find another area to visit, study, discuss, and describe. Sonora has a wealth of ecological and cultural surprises, all within a day’s drive of Tucson, less yet from Hermosillo, where Alberto lives. It is only a matter of time.

***
David Yetman is distinguished outreach faculty and a research social scientist at the Southwest Center of the University of Arizona, where he has worked since 1992. His research specialties include the peoples and ecology of northwest Mexico and the southwestern United States. Yetman has a PhD in philosophy and is author of numerous books and articles, including Sonora: An Intimate Geography, Natural Landmarks of Arizona, and The Saguaro Cactus: A Natural History. Yetman is the former host of the PBS series The Desert Speaks and current host and co-producer of the PBS travel/adventure series, In the Americas with David Yetman.

Alberto Búrquez works as a researcher at the Instituto de Ecología, Department of Ecology of Biodiversity, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. He is a co-author (with David Yetman) of The Saguaro Cactus.

Excerpt from “Our Hidden Landscapes”

Challenging traditional and long-standing understandings, this volume provides an important new lens for interpreting stone structures that had previously been attributed to settler colonialism. Instead, the contributors to this volume argue that these locations are sacred Indigenous sites.

This volume introduces readers to eastern North America’s Indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes (CSLs)—sacred sites whose principal identifying characteristics are built stone structures that cluster within specific physical landscapes. Our Hidden Landscapes edited by Lucianne Lavin and Elaine Thomas presents these often unrecognized sites as significant cultural landscapes in need of protection and preservation.

In this book, Native American authors provide perspectives on the cultural meaning and significance of CSLs and their characteristics, while professional archaeologists and anthropologists provide a variety of approaches for better understanding, protecting, and preserving them. The chapters present overwhelming evidence in the form of oral tradition, historic documentation, ethnographies, and archaeological research that these important sites created and used by Indigenous peoples are deserving of protection.

This work enables archaeologists, historians, conservationists, foresters, and members of the general public to recognize these important ritual sites. Read an excerpt from the book’s Introduction below.

The purpose of this book is to introduce readers to Indigenous ceremonial stone landscapes in Eastern North America — sacred sites whose principal identifying characteristics are stone cultural features (stone groupings) in a variety of designs that cluster within specific physical landscapes. Such sacred sites have been known and used for thousands of years throughout the Americas; some are still being used today, especially in South and Central America and the North American West. Professional archaeologists working in these regions routinely acknowledge their existence (e.g., Morgan et al. 2014, Reeves and Kennedy 2017; see also Thrane, this volume). This is not always the case for Eastern North America, particularly the Northeast, where such sites are often misidentified and destroyed.

Indigenous-Built Stone Structures and their Early Recordation by Euro-Americans

 The designed stone groupings in the form of mounds, rows, enclosures, niches, above-ground and subterranean chambers, perched boulders, split stones, standing stones, and other stone creations are often aligned with astronomic events such as the sunrises and sunsets of the winter or summer solstices, annual meteor showers, certain constellations, cycles of the moon, and other cosmic phenomena. In turn, celestial events are known historically to be associated with – and often are the catalyst for – traditional, annual Native American religious rituals and festivals. For example, anthropologist Dr. Frank G. Speck’s eyewitness account of the Cayuga Iroquois Mid-Winter Festival reported that the eight-day ceremony began five days after the constellation Pleiades was directly overhead at sunset following the first new moon in January (Speck 1949:49). Often the designed stones are in the form of animals, particularly turtles and serpents, which play significant roles in Native American creation stories, folklore, and spiritual practices (Simmons 1986).

Seventeenth, 18th, and 19th century English and Dutch settlers described seeing Native peoples east of the Mississippi create and use these sacred stone landscapes. Some significant examples are the 17th century accounts of Indigenous stone monuments, in the Chesapeake Bay area by English explorer John Smith of Pocahontas fame (called pawcorances by the local tribal peoples), and in the Carolina Piedmont by German explorer John Lederer (King and Strickland, this volume), and the 18th century Journal of Reverend John Sergeant, particularly his Nov. 3, 1734 entry describing a huge stone memorial mound in Great Barrington, Massachusetts actively being visited by Mohican tribal members (Hopkins 1753: 24). Sergeant was the first minister to the Mohican Indian tribe in their main village, which is now Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In the 19th century, the anonymous author of “A Description of Mashpee, in the County of Barnstable” described local Natives building and using stone monuments (Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, written in 1802 and cited by Simmons, 1986: 253). The Indigenous community of Mashpee is located in eastern Massachusetts on what is now known as Cape Cod. In 1907 Frank Speck visited Mashpee and was told by elderly Wampanoag informants that the roadside monuments were spirit-lodges, where tribal members left offerings to the spirits of the dead (Simmons 1986: 254).

Likewise, the spiritual significance of built stone structures was conveyed by Native American leaders and informants to other Euro-American researchers, and subsequently published in the late 19th-21st century anthropological literature. Some of these ceremonial sites continue in use today. Primary documents, like those previously cited, that describe and/or support (through accounts of Indigenous worldview and spirituality) Indigenous creation and use of ritual stone features are not uncommon, and most are easily available to researchers online or through library loan. To make this point, we list a small, additional selection from that body of available literature: Philip L. Barbour (1986), The Complete Works of Captain John Smith, 1580-1631; Joseph Bruchac (1993), The Native American Sweat Lodge: History and Legends; Thor Conway (1993), Painted Dreams: Native American Rock Art; Frank Glynn (1973), “Excavation of the Pilot’s Point Stone Heaps;” Doug Harris and Paul Robinson (2015), “The Ancient Ceremonial Landscape and King Philip’s War: Battlefields of Nipsachuck”; Diamond Jenness (1935), The Ojibwa Indians of Parry Island, Their Social and Religious Life; Charles Leland (1884), The Algonquin Legends of New England; James Mooney (1900), Myths of the Cherokees; Robert E. Ritzenthaler and Pat Ritzenthaler (1970), The Woodland Indians of the Western Great Lakes; Elaine Thomas (2015), “Maintaining the Integrity of the Homeland: Recognizing and Re-Awakening the Memory of Forgotten Places through Mohegan Archaeology.”

Contributors
Nohham Rolf Cachat-Schilling
Robert DeFosses
James Gage
Mary Gage
Doug Harris
Julia A. King
Lucianne Lavin
Johannes (Jannie) H. N. Loubser
Frederick W. Martin
Norman Muller
Charity Moore Norton
Paul A. Robinson
Laurie W. Rush
Scott M. Strickland
Elaine Thomas
Kathleen Patricia Thrane
Matthew Victor Weiss

OSIRIS-REx Celebration in Downtown Tucson

October 16, 2023

On October 14, author Dante Lauretta hosted an “Orbits and Elixirs Celebration” for contributors and supporters of the NASA OSIRIS-REx Mission, at the Don Martini Bar on top of the Rialto Theater in downtown Tucson. Lauretta and Mayor Regina Romero spoke; they talked about the sample return mission, the work of the mirror lab for the Giant Magellan Telescope, and the opening of the Center for Astrobiology.  UA Press Director Kathryn Conrad and Editor Allyson Carter joined in the celebration, along with UA Lunar Planetary Laboratory Director Mark Marley. Below are photos from the event.

About the book: Bennu 3-D, Anatomy of an Asteroid, is the world’s first complete (and stereoscopic) atlas of an asteroid, is the result of a unique collaboration between OSIRIS-REx mission leader Dante Lauretta and Brian May’s London Stereoscopic Company. Lauretta’s colleagues include Carina Bennett, Kenneth Coles, and Cat Wolner, as well as Brian May and Claudia Manzoni, who became part of the ultimately successful effort to find a safe landing site for sampling. The text details the data collected by the mission so far, and the stereo images have been meticulously created by Manzoni and May from original images collected by the OSIRIS-REx cameras.

Dante Lauretta speaks about the mission to Bennu and back.

Allyson Carter, Dante Lauretta, and Kathryn Conrad

Slide show celebrating all University of Arizona space and astronomy accomplishments.

Tucson Mayor Regina Romero congratulates the OSIRIS-REx team on a successful mission.

October 12, 2023

In Bringing Home the Wild, A Riparian Garden in a Southwest City, author Julie Stromberg demonstrates how ecologically guided gardening develops a sense of place, restores connections to nature, and brings joy and meaning to our lives. When living in a large sprawling city, one may feel disconnected and adrift. Finding ways to belong and have positive effects is challenging. Today, Stromberg has provided us with field notes and insights into her work.

For three decades of my life, I was a professor at Arizona State University. During that time, I made many field trips to rivers of the American Southwest and published many research papers about the ecological relationships of riparian plants. These studies increased our understanding of the ways in which human activities alter riparian plant communities and informed the efforts of those who were working to restore them.

A riparian ecosystem in the mountains of Arizona
Author relaxing in a ratama (Parkinsonia aculeata)

Once I retired, my engagement with riparian biota became more personal. My attention turned to the forests and shrublands my partner and I were tending on a patch of abandoned farmland we had purchased near the Salt River. Revitalizing our own patch of green has been deeply satisfying. I love engaging with trees not just as study organisms, but as partners and even as friends. Ecosystem restoration has been called, somewhat dismissively, glorified gardening. I am proud to be a gardener. I firmly believe that urban gardeners, collectively, can do much to help tackle the pressing issues of our time. Our ecosystem garden is a multitasker. For one, we have a working food forest of velvet mesquite, a tree which once covered much of the area that is now Phoenix. Agroecosystems such as these are a sustainable alternative to industrialized agriculture.

Second, by tending a bioproductive climate garden, we help mitigate the rising air temperatures in the city and offset a share of our own carbon emissions. Connecting with the plants who sequester the carbon is an important first step in undertaking climate action.

Third, our patch of green provides habitat for birds, mammals, and other wildlife whose numbers are in decline. Pollinators, herbivores, predators, and decomposers all thrive in our ecosystem garden: all have roles to play. The diversity of life in our garden has astounded me.

Finally, our garden provides ecotherapy. Anxiety is high among many urban dwellers, but the colors, sounds, smells, and patterns of the flora and fauna keep us calm and hopeful. Ecotherapy is a powerful force, especially when the greenery embraces you right as you step outside the door.

I wrote this book to inspire and guide others. I hope that our joyful experiences in urban ecosystem gardening will tempt others to deepen their connection to the natural world and nurture life-filled bounty in their own backyards. I hope more urban dwellers will unplug from the digital world, for a bit, and put on their gardening gloves. When we connect strongly to a place and feel as if we are part of the local ecosystem, we are more likely to take actions that benefit us all.

***

Julie Stromberg is a professor emeritus at Arizona State University and a plant ecologist who specializes in wetland and riparian ecosystems of the American Southwest. For the past thirty years, she has studied plant population and community dynamics and vegetation-hydrology interactions. The author of more than a hundred peer-reviewed publications, Stromberg continues to write about plants while also tending a riparian forest garden in the city.

2024 Ambroggio Prize Submissions Open Now

October 10, 2023

Norma E. Cantú, editor of Chicana Portraits: Critical Biographies of Twelve Chicana Writers, is the judge of the 2024 Academy of American Poets Ambroggio Prize.

The Ambroggio Prize is a $1,000 publication prize given for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winning manuscript is published by the University of Arizona Press. Established in 2017, it is the only annual award of its kind in the United States that honors American poets whose first language is Spanish.

The 2023 prize winner was Margarita Pintado Burgos for Ojo en Celo /Eye in Heat.

Submissions for the 2024 Ambroggio Prize will be accepted from September 15, 2023 to February 15, 2024. 

Chicana Portraits is an innovative collection pairs portraits with critical biographies of twelve key Chicana writers, offering an engaging look at their work, contributions to the field, and major achievements. Artist Raquel Valle-Sentíes’s portraits bring visual dimension, while essays delve deeply into the authors’ lives for details that inform their literary, artistic, feminist, and political trajectories and sensibilities.

Norma E. Cantú is a scholar-activist who currently serves as the Norine R. and T. Frank Murchison Professor of the Humanities at Trinity University. She is founder and director of the Society for the Study of Gloria Anzaldúa. She has published fiction, poetry, and personal essays in a number of publications.

Five Questions for Alma García

October 10, 2023


Alma García’s debut novel All That Rises is about secrets, lies, border politics, and discovering where you belong—within a family, as well as in the world beyond. It is a novel for the times we live in, set in a place many people know only from the news.

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, two guardedly neighboring families have plunged headlong into a harrowing week. Rose Marie DuPre, wife and mother, has abandoned her family. On the doorstep of the Gonzales home, long-lost rebel Inez appears. As Rose Marie’s husband, Huck (manager of a maquiladora), and Inez’s brother, Jerry (a college professor), struggle separately with the new shape of their worlds, Lourdes, the Mexican maid who works in both homes, finds herself entangled in the lives of her employers, even as she grapples with a teenage daughter who only has eyes for el otro lado—life, American style.

What first sparked your interest in telling this story?

All That Rises started its life almost twenty-five years ago as a single short story—my first published story, as it so happens. It won a debut writer’s award. I was floored.         

Fearing that this might be the only writing success I might ever have, I set out to keep the protagonist of this story alive. And so, I began a collection of linked stories that took place in the neighborhood and amongst the neighbors of this protagonist: a young Mexican-American gardener grappling with the loss of his complicated father. Semi-consciously, I understood this neighborhood to be located in El Paso, Texas, where I grew up, though this setting remained quietly in the background.

Little did I know that this was to be the start of an epic journey, in which—owing to a variety of major life transitions and the fact that it was eventually made clear to me that the manuscript wasn’t working as a collection of linked stories—the book would be transformed, over another decade and a half, into a full-blown novel. As I completely re-envisioned the story I meant to tell, centering different characters and entangling their families with one another, I discovered that the characters had become a part of something far larger: the history of El Paso itself, which is inextricably bound up in the cultures, legacies, geography, and the ever-evolving politics of the borderlands. What I also discovered was that I had been writing this book because I wanted to tell stories about the kinds of people I grew up with—people with their feet in more than one culture, whose lives I hadn’t seen much of on the page.

How has your relationship to the Southwest and the U.S./Mexico border changed over time?

I lived the first part of my life in El Paso, and later, in Albuquerque. My extended family still lives in the El Paso area and has roots in the area that go back for many generations. With a few exceptions, I have gone back to visit for most of the years of my life.

Of course, it’s a different world there now than it was when I was growing up in the 1970s and 80s. In those days, as was common, my family thought nothing of crossing the border to buy groceries or go to dinner; my older relatives would go over to get their hair done or for dental work, and of course, then as now, many families (though not mine) are split between El Paso and across the border in Ciudad Juárez. That’s to say, it was fairly free-flowing and easy to go back and forth; the two cities felt very much like two sides of the same coin. Sadly, a number of realities in recent years have chilled that dynamic—safety issues south of the border, the new complexities of mass migration and the politicization that surrounds it; a horrific act of home-grown terrorism in 2019 that demonstrated how white nationalism can force its way even into a Mexican American-majority border city.

But as much as things have changed, there is also much that remains deeply familiar to me. During the years I spent writing this book, as the city transformed from a mere blip beneath the radar of the national consciousness to a place that became the epicenter of the news again and again, I felt even more urgency to portray it with all the depth and complexity that is its due, and to reflect its inhabitants back to the world in a way that centers their humanity—even when that sense of humanity is complicated.

In any case, it might be ironic that I wasn’t able to write this novel until I moved away from the border itself. I’ve lived in Seattle since 2001, and it was only here—in the cool, dark, misty, green Pacific Northwest—that I was able to separate myself enough from the world that I came from in order to reflect upon it, to truly see it for what it is, to be able to re-enter it in my memory and in my imagination—at least until the next time that I physically returned to it. There’s plenty I miss about this world. For sure, there are days I miss being in a place where I never have to tell anyone how to spell or pronounce my name.

Do you think family dynamics are an ideal way to reflect border issues?

It might be more accurate to say that, on the border, border issues are frequently reflected in family dynamics. There are the literal realities of those whose families are split between two cities and two countries, of course, and the cultural legacies that anyone with a family history in the area inherits (and often passes on in complex ways). Heritage itself is a fraught concept, especially as who or what people understand themselves to be is sometimes at odds with a family’s beliefs or perceptions or records. Add to this brew the fact that the border is always about duality—where you “belong,” and where you do not belong. From there, it’s not a very big leap to start asking yourself where you belong within your own family, and how that determines where you belong in the world beyond.

The border is also a powerful metaphor, and this metaphor can manifest itself in the psychological and emotional borders people create between themselves. When people become entangled with one another—whether by accident or intention or geographical location or by blood relation—the boundaries between them sometimes blur in unexpected ways. Where does one person’s world end and another’s begin? Who is “us” and who is “them”? 

The political issues facing the border today are many, as you reference above, and the book also brushes up against a number of related phenomena unique to this area, including Border Patrol culture, the economic inequality exacerbated by the American-owned maquiladora system in Ciudad Juárez, and the prosaic struggles of domestic workers whose well-being depends on access to the American side of the border. Yet with the many up-to-the-moment social urgencies and emergencies issues you could draw upon, the novel is set in 2005 and 2006, rather than the present day. What’s behind this choice?

There are two reasons for this. One was practical: Originally, this book was set in the present, whatever “the present” means when you’re writing a book over a very long period of time. But the current events, politics, and even the landmarks of the city changed so much over the years, it became impossible to keep up. The world was evolving—and continues to evolve—rapidly, and I needed a fixed point from which to examine it.

The second is a reason that proved to be far more thematically meaningful. The mid-2000s marked a period of time in which the border first began to noticeably tighten, but it was still a deeply different world than the one we find ourselves in today. You can trace the development of our current affairs to this time; had we but known, we could have seen a lot coming. As one character puts it, “The problem with history is that by the time you realize it’s repeating itself, it’s already happened.” I think the book offers a fair amount to unpack around that notion—especially in a time when what happens at the Texas/Mexico border has implications far beyond the borderlands themselves.

Do you have an idea for your next novel or other project that you would like to share?

I can only provide you with a hint, because what’s new in my writing world is currently evolving as well, wildly and deeply. Suffice it to say that there is likely to be intrigue surrounding secret identities; the unholy trio of fact, fiction and fake news; and the shape-shifting world of ethnic impostors. Suffice it to say that the story might be set in a place just slightly further north than this one, but I am still keeping one foot in a place I recognize as home.

***

Alma García is a writer whose award-winning short fiction has appeared in Narrative Magazine and most recently in phoebe and the anthology Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century. This is her first novel.

Myrriah Gómez Speaks at ASU Science and Mathematics Colloquium

October 9, 2023

Myrriah Gómez, author of Nuclear Nuevo México, was a guest speaker at the Science and Mathematics Colloquium series presented by the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts at Arizona State University.

“In her book and through her public outreach, she is bringing to light the long-term impacts of the nuclear industrial complex, emphasizing what she sees as the five tenets of nuclear colonialism: intergenerational trauma; disease and death; contamination; secrecy and obscurity; and environmental racism. Gómez argued that a combination of these injustices continue to plague Nuevomexicano communities,” Sona Patel Srinarayana wrote in an ASU News article about the series.

About Nuclear Nuevo México:

Contrary to previous works that suppress Nuevomexicana/o presence throughout U.S. nuclear history, Nuclear Nuevo México focuses on recovering the voices and stories that have been lost or ignored in the telling of this history. By recuperating these narratives, Myrriah Gómez tells a new story of New Mexico, one in which the nuclear history is not separate from the collective colonial history of Nuevo México but instead demonstrates how earlier eras of settler colonialism laid the foundation for nuclear colonialism in New Mexico.

Gómez examines the experiences of Nuevomexicanas/os who have been impacted by the nuclear industrial complex, both the weapons industry and the commercial industry. Gómez argues that Los Alamos was created as a racist project that targeted poor and working-class Nuevomexicana/o farming families, along with their Pueblo neighbors, to create a nuclear empire. The resulting imperialism has left a legacy of disease and distress throughout New Mexico that continues today.

Five Questions for William L. Bird Jr.

October 7, 2023

An essential—and monumental—member of the Sonoran Desert ecosystem, the saguaro cactus has become the quintessential icon of the American West.

In the Arms of the Saguaros by William L. Bird Jr., shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their images have fulfilled attention-getting needs and expectations. Through text and lavish images, this work explores the saguaro’s growth into a western icon from the early days of the American railroad to the years bracketing World War II, when Sun Belt boosterism hit its zenith and proponents of tourism succeed in moving the saguaro to the center of the promotional frame.

What first sparked your interest to write this book?

I trained as a historian at the University of Arizona, so you can probably understand how the saguaro came to lodge in my head as an impressionable student from the east. Pictures of people posing with saguaros have a certain timeless quality. Most of the pictures of—let’s call them social saguaros—bridge no distance between person and plant. People posing with saguaros sometimes reach out and touch them, but actually it’s the other way around. These special plants touch us.

What was the first image of a saguaro that inspired you to personally own this image?

I found a dog-eared copy of a 1950s Arizona annual magazine in a used bookstore in Washington, D.C. shortly after returning home from my studies in Tucson in 1975. The magazine’s cover pictures a western wear model wearing a saw-tooth pocket shirt and a cowboy hat, with her folded arms resting on the curve of a spineless saguaro arm. I kept this thing for years. I was lucky enough to find a clean copy and made it my frontispiece.

Sometimes saguaro images are misplaced—What is the place farthest from the Sonoran Desert that a saguaro has been used to represent?

The saguaro’s success as a far-flung western symbol lies in the assumptions that people have picked up about its habitat, most of them mistaken. And this is where the fun begins. Transplanted saguaros popped up throughout the west and beyond after the railroad came to Tucson in 1880. At first there were so-called Arizona gardens in California and track side displays that the Southern Pacific railroad mounted at select passenger stations. Saguaros and other native plants rode the rails to the era’s world’s fairs. Out-of-habitat transplants might cheat death for a summer or for a little while longer in the care of a botanical garden. The New York Botanical Garden, the Missouri Botanical Garden (Shaw’s Garden) and Pittsburgh’s Phipps Botanical Garden all had them. Their pictures circulated in the press. With the first rush of conspicuous transplants and publicity about them, you might be excused for thinking that they grow anywhere.   

Why are saguaros so interesting to people from around the world?

The saguaro joined the travel industry’s toolkit of symbols freely associated with the American West. Historically southwestern tourism’s fun-in-the-sun sales message has featured freshly starched western wear, horseback rides, campfires, bathing suits, swimming pools and saguaros, whose welcoming arms wave you in, closer and closer. This anthropomorphic quality may be the basis of the saguaro’s success as a symbol, which though ephemeral, is nevertheless powerful. And this is pretty much where we are today in fashion, art and craft.

What is your next book or research project?

I am working on a couple of publication projects with the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, that focus upon the development of graphic identities in the American Southwest. One is a book-length illustrated history of Tucson’s Cabat-Gill Advertising Agency, which among other things pioneered in early television production. Another is a short piece on stylized linen postcard images picturing downtown Tucson and their acceptance as actualities.

***
William L. Bird Jr. is a curator emeritus of the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. His interests lie at the intersection of politics, popular culture, and the history of visual display.

Excerpt from “Chicana Portraits”

Chicana Portraits edited by Norma Elia Cantú pairs portraits with critical biographies of twelve key Chicana writers, offering an engaging look at their work, contributions to the field, and major achievements.

Artist Raquel Valle-Sentíes’s portraits bring visual dimension, while essays delve deeply into the authors’ lives for details that inform their literary, artistic, feminist, and political trajectories and sensibilities. The collection brilliantly intersects artistic visual and literary cultural productions, allowing complex themes to emerge, such as the fragility of life, sexism and misogyny, Chicana agency and forging one’s own path, the struggles of becoming a writer and battling self-doubt, economic instability, and political engagement and activism.

Arranged chronologically by birth order of the authors, the book can be read cover to cover for a genealogical overview, or scholars and general readers can easily jump in at any point and read about an individual author, regardless of the chronology.

Biographies included in this work include Raquel Valle-Sentíes, Angela de Hoyos, Montserrat Fontes, Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Norma E. Cantú, Denise Elia Chávez, Carmen Tafolla, Cherríe Moraga, Ana Castillo, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Sandra Cisneros, and Demetria Martínez. Read an excerpt from the book below.

It is a balmy May evening in Laredo, Texas, in 2001 when we gather in el Café del Barrio, a small café/bookstore that the artist and poet Raquel Valle-Sentíes owns and operates out of her Victorian-era home on Matamoros Street. At this particular gathering, we are celebrating the writers from Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas, and Laredo, Texas, who are attending the IV Letras en el Borde (Letters on the Border) conference. The brainchild of José Luis Velarde and Guillermo Lavín, a couple of writers from Ciudad Victoria, Tamaulipas, the annual transnational event has taken place for several years with support from Texas A&M International University (TAMIU), Laredo Community College(LCC), and the cultural affairs office of the city of Nuevo Laredo under the direction of Héctor Romero Lecanda. Like any other literary festival, Letras en el Borde features writers reading their work and academic papers by critics and scholars; because it is being held in the two Laredos and the organizers want to emphasize the transnational aspects of our region, the conference focuses on border writing. The meal and performances—readings and music—at Café del Barrio are a highlight of the conference.

Our host, Raquel Valle-Sentíes herself, is active in the local literary scene. Her dream of owning a bookstore has come true, and it is all she had hoped it would be. In the 1980s Valle-Sentíes had begun writing poetry and taking art classes at Laredo Community College (now Laredo College) with Martha Fenstermaker. I was then a professor at Laredo State University (now Texas A&M International University), and we—the literatontos, as some jokingly referred to us—were a handful who were keeping Chicanismo alive as we engaged with community projects that addressed the raging problems of the day: immigration, illiteracy, erasure of our history, historic preservation, et cetera. By the 1990s, we had coalesced into a force engaged in important interventions, launching a chapter of Amnesty International to do our work in the migrant detention center run by the private carceral company Corrections Corporation of America and establishing the Refugee Assistance Council to provide legal services to migrants. It was the days of massive migration from Central America due to the United States incursions into that region of the Americas. Many of our members were also involved in the feminist group Las Mujeres, and we hosted an annual women’s conference, Primavera, to promote and recognize the accomplishments of women in our community. I discuss Las Mujeres below as I contextualize the work of Café del Barrio and Raquel Valle-Sentíes.

Contributors
Cordelia E. Barrera
Mary Pat Brady
Norma E. Cantú
María Jesus Castro Dopacio
Carlos Nicolás Flores
Myrriah Gómez
Maria Magdalena Guerra de Charur
Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs
Georgina Guzmán
Cristina Herrera
María Esther Quintana
Eliza Rodríguez y Gibson
Meagan Solomon
Lourdes Torres
Raquel Valle-Sentíes
Jen Yáñez-Alaniz

“Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán” Book Launch

September 26, 2023

David Yetman and Alberto Búrquez celebrated the publication of Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán last night, hosted by the gracious Consulate of Mexico in Tucson, AZ and supported by The Southwest Center. Special thanks to everyone who came out to support our authors!

Enjoy the photos below for a recap of the event:

Alberto Búrquez presents photographs from Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán
David Yetman presents photographs from Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán
A packed house! The consulate staff had to bring in lots of extra chairs
Yetman and Búrquez during the audience Q & A
David Yetman signs copies of his new book during the reception
Lots of book signing!
Thanks to everyone who came out to support our authors

About Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán:

Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán: From Deserts to Clouds provides an accessible and photographic view of the culture, history, and environment of an extraordinary region of southern Mexico. The Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán are lauded by botanists for their spectacular plant life—they contain the densest columnar cacti forests in the world. Recent archaeological excavations reveal them also to be a formative Mesoamerican site as well. So singular is this region that it is home to the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Through firsthand experience and engaging prose, the authors provide a synthesis of the geology, ecology, history, and cultures of the valleys, showing their importance and influence as Mesoamerican arteries for environmental and cultural interchange through Mexico. It also reveals the extraordinary plant life that draws from habitats ranging from deserts to tropical forests.

The authors, both experts in their respective fields, begin with a general description of the geography of the valleys, followed by an introduction to climate and hydrology, a look at the valleys’ often bewildering geology. The book delves into cultural and linguistic backgrounds of the valleys and discusses archaeological sites that that encapsulate the valleys’ fascinating history prior to the arrival of Europeans. The book concludes by describing the flora that makes the region so singular.

Excerpt from “Latinos and Nationhood”

Spanning from the early nineteenth century to today, Latinos and Nationhood by Nicolás Kanellos examines the work of Latino writers who explored the major philosophic and political themes of their day, including the meaning and implementation of democracy, their democratic and cultural rights under U.S. dominion, their growing sense of nationhood, and the challenges of slavery and disenfranchisement of women in a democratic republic that had yet to realize its ideals.

Over the course of two centuries, these Latino or Hispanic intellectuals were natural-born citizens of the United States, immigrants, or political refugees. Many of these intellectuals, whether citizens or not, strove to embrace and enliven such democratic principles as freedom of speech and of the press, the protection of minorities in the Bill of Rights and in subsequent laws, and the protection of linguistic and property rights, among many others, guaranteed by treaties when the United States incorporated their homelands into the Union.

Latinos have resided in North America since before the arrival of the English at Jamestown and Plymouth. They already lived in lands that became English colonies and later the states of the early American Republic; of course, their largest populations dwelled in what became the southern and western United States, Mexico and the Caribbean, most of which would be conquered and/or bought by the expanding United States during the nineteenth century. Whether before or after their incorporation into US territory, the people that would in the future be called “Latinos” or “Hispanics” had a rich intellectual history, having introduced the first written European language, book culture and universities to the hemisphere. They pondered and wrote about all of the cultural and scientific themes that we think of as part of the Western tradition. They continued this rich intellectual activity in the lands that became part of the United States.

Over the course of United States history, Latinos thought about, struggled with and wrote about the major philosophic and political themes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including: 1) the meaning and implementation of democracy, especially through establishment of a liberal republic; 2) their democratic and cultural rights under United States dominion; 3) their growing sense of nationhood; and 4) the particular challenges of slavery and disenfranchisement of women in a democratic republic that had yet to realize its ideals.

From the very outset, Latinos thought about and expressed their opinions, penned and published philosophical, humanistic, scientific and political discussions on all of the major topics that today we consider as part of the national intellectual heritage of the United States. They did so through speeches in the public arena, books and periodicals, and in the classroom; in fact, the earliest schools on the continent were missionary schools run by the Spanish friars, and the earliest imprints and newspapers in the West and Southwest were Spanish-language publications. What follows below and in the chapters of this book are stories about only a few individuals who made an impact on the spread of intellectual thought, these thinkers and activists were not alone in developing, articulating and publishing important ideas; rather, they were members of communities of thinkers, writers and political activists who helped them hone their ideas. Indeed, it would take volumes to adequately chart the full development of Latino thought; thus, this book is just an initial foray into a rich and complex intellectual history. In this foray, I have chosen not to review the thought about identity and nationhood of such well known giants of Latino thought as, for instance José Martí, who was in the vanguard of so many ideas about democracy, race relations and governance. Rather, the first, larger section of this book will be dedicated to presenting the work lesser-known thinkers, most of whose works have been inaccessible until recently. The traditional Anglo- or Euro-centric history of the United States has consistently ignored Latino intellectual history, and especially is unaware of most of the intellectuals to be covered in this book. Today, this intellectual tradition, like that of other ethnic and minority groups, women and LGBTQ+, is key to achieving a full understanding of our development as a democratic nation striving for equity and the realization of its ideals penned in the Constitution and its amendments. In the last three chapters of the book, I take the liberty of inserting my personal reading of three prominent literary figures from the Chicano movement, a movement in which I have served as the most experienced editor/publisher.

The contributions of Latinos to the civilization of the Americas, including what later would become the United States, begin during the period of exploration and colonization and include such legacies of American life as the technologies of farming, ranching, mining and natural resource management, among many others. Most of these accomplishments can be attributed to mestizo culture (mixed European, African and Native American) that arose not only south of today’s border but also in the lands that would become the United States. However, the starting point for this book will properly be the United States shortly after winning its independence from the British Empire and its establishment of a new form of government.

Since the days of the early American Republic, Latino intellectuals have struggled: 1) to export to their countries of origin the democratic ideas learned from the US “founding fathers” and the texts of the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers and the American Constitution; 2) and from the mid nineteenth century onward under US dominion to demand the implementation of these lofty concepts among minorities and the disenfranchised within the boundaries of the American Republic. From the mid-nineteenth century on, Latinos have struggled to define themselves within the American Republic and to understand their relationship with the Hispanic world write large. At first, these intellectuals from throughout the Americas, from as far away as the River Platte and Peru, idealistically flocked to Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston to acquire this knowledge, translate it and smuggle it to the various regions of New Spain; they did so in order to prepare for their independent nationhood, as separate from “the mother country” Spain, and create an ideological foundation on which to establish their own republics. As documented in Chapters 1 and 2, most of these political thinkers were drawn to Philadelphia at the end of the eighteenth and beginning of the nineteenth centuries, not only because it was the cradle of American independence and at that time the capital of the United States, but also because it was home to numerous printers. For competitive fees, these printers made “freedom of the press” a reality for the Spaniards and Spanish American creoles (criollos) whose mission it was to adapt US democratic and republican principles in the political texts they would smuggle into the Caribbean and as far as south as the River Platte.

Excerpt from “La Plonqui”

Celebrating more than forty years of creative writing by Chicana author Margarita Cota-Cárdenas, La Plonqui edited by Jesús Rosales and Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez includes critical essays, reflections, interviews, and previously unpublished writing by the author herself to document the lifelong craft and legacy of a pioneering writer in the field.

Nicknamed “La Plonky” by her family after a made-up childhood song, Cota-Cárdenas grew up in California, taught almost exclusively in Arizona, and produced five major works (two novels and three books of poetry) that offer an expansive literary production spanning from the 1960s to today. Her perspectives on Chicana identity, the Chicanx movement, and the sociopolitical climate of Arizona and the larger U.S.-Mexico border region represent a significant contribution to the larger body of Chicanx literature. Additionally, the volume explores her perspectives on issues of gender, sexuality, and identity related to the Chicanx experience over time.

Divided into three major parts, this collection begins with an introduction, followed by two testimonial essays written by the author herself and a longtime colleague, as well as an interview with the author. The second section contains nine essays by well-established literary critics that analyze Cota-Cárdenas’s literary output within a Chicano Movement literary context and offer new readings of Cota-Cárdenas’s fiction and poetry. The third part presents poetry and fiction from Cota-Cárdenas, including an excerpt from a work in progress. As a whole, the collection aims to affirm Margarita Cota-Cárdenas’s significant role in shaping the field of Chicana literature and emphasizes the importance of honoring a celebrated author who wrote a majority of her works in Spanish—one of the few Chicana writers to do so. Read an excerpt from the book below.

This collection is an open invitation to readers to share in the legacy of Chicana writer Margarita Cota-Cárdenas and to learn more about the impact of her work, which spans more than forty years in the state of Arizona. The authors who graciously contributed essays to this volume have been impacted in profound ways by the carefully crafted words Cota-Cárdenas has placed on paper, often with the assistance of La Malinche, her typewriter. If you ever had the chance to be at a poetry reading or a presentation given by Cota-Cárdenas, there is no doubt that those words shared aloud impacted you—as they did many of the authors in this collection. To know Cota-Cárdenas is to understand the plight of Chicanas/os within a historical and contemporary context. This collection is an act of love that honors the many paths that Cota-Cárdenas has paved to inspire Chicanas/os to find their voice, be fearless in calling out systemic and oppressive structures, and hold ourselves and those around us accountable for the creation of a more just world. Always knowing that la lucha sigue.

Margarita Cota-Cárdenas was born on November 10, 1941, in Heber, California, a small town located approximately five miles northwest of the border city of Calexico. Cota-Cárdenas’s father, Jesús Cota, was born in Cócorit, Sonora, Mexico, and her mother, Margarita Cárdenas de Cota, in Tortugas, New Mexico. Early in their life they both worked as migrant workers throughout the U.S. Southwest, but, tired of the constant movement this type of job required, Cota-Cárdenas’s parents soon decided to settle down in central California, earning their living as labor contractors. This occupational change provided Cota-Cárdenas with a stable living environment that allowed her to benefit from an uninterrupted educational experience, an opportunity uncommon in those days for many migrant families.

Cota-Cárdenas graduated from Orestimba High School in Newman, California, and later from Modesto Junior College. In 1966, she received her BA from California State College, Stanislaus (now California State University, Stanislaus), with a major in Spanish and a minor in English. She promptly continued her graduate studies, earning an MA in 1968 from the University of California, Davis. The PhD took longer to complete, but Cota-Cárdenas eventually received her degree in 1980 from the University of Arizona, specializing in the narrative of Carlos Fuentes. The following year Cota Cárdenas began her professional career teaching Spanish, Latin American, and Chicana/o literature and culture at Arizona State University, in Tempe, until her retirement in 2002.

Cota-Cárdenas is the author of three books of poetry and two novels. In 1976, she published Noches despertando inConciencias, her first book of poetry. This collection was followed by Puppet: A Chicano Novella (1985); Marchitas de mayo (Sones pa’l pueblo) (poetry, 1989); Sanctuaries of the Heart / Santuarios del corazón (novel, 2005); and Poemática inspiración y fiebre: Poesía mechicana y relato (poetry, 2016). Here we wish to offer a brief synopsis and analysis of Cota-Cárdenas’s body of work, representing forty years of literary production.

Contributors
Laura Elena Belmonte
Margarita Cota-Cárdenas
José R. Flores
Vanessa Fonseca-Chávez
Carolyn González
Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs
Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez
Kirsten F. Nigro
Margarita E. Pignataro
Tey Diana Rebolledo
Jesús Rosales
Charles St-Georges
Javier Villarreal

Margarita Pintado Burgos wins 2023 Ambroggio Prize with “Ojo en Celo / Eye in Heat”

September 21, 2023

The Academy of American Poets awarded the 2023 Ambroggio Prize to Margarita Pintado Burgos for Ojo en Celo / Eye in Heat. Alejandra Quintana Arocho translated the collection. The is $1,000 prize is given for a book-length poetry manuscript originally written in Spanish and with an English translation. The winning manuscript is published by the University of Arizona Press, a nationally recognized publisher of award-winning works of emerging and established voices in Latinx and Indigenous literature, as well as groundbreaking scholarship in Latinx and Indigenous studies. Established in 2017, the Ambroggio Prize is the only annual award of its kind in the United States that honors American poets whose first language is Spanish. This year’s judge was Achy Obejas.

Obejas commented on the work: “The phrase ‘eye in heat’ can have a few different meanings. It can refer to a state of intense sexual desire, but it can also refer to a heightened awareness and excitement. Here, the phrase is used to describe the speaker’s state of mind as they try to make sense of the world around them. The speaker is both attracted to and repelled by the world. The poems here capture the poet’s intense desire to find meaning in this paradox.”

Margarita Pintado Burgos, a professor, poet, and essayist, was born on January 16, 1981, in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She was raised in this municipality’s barrios of Cerro Gordo and Braulio Dueño. She studied journalism at the University of Puerto Rico and completed her doctorate in Spanish at Emory University.

Pintado Burgos’ published books include ​​​​​​Simultánea, la marea (Blurb, 2022); Una muchacha que se parece a mí (Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña, 2016), for which she received the poetry award in a contest held by the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture in 2015; and Ficción de venado (la secta de los perros, 2012). With Cuban poet Lorenzo García Vega, Pintado cowrote the experimental novel Ping-Pong Zuihitsu, published by Indiana University Press. She edited the bilingual (Spanish-Portuguese) anthology of García Vega poems, Palabras que repito (Ed. Lumme, 2017). Pintado Burgos’s poems have also been published in multiple anthologies and magazines.

Pintado Burgos is a professor of language and literature at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California. She is also a reviewer for the blog El Roommate and co-director of a poetry space called Distrópika. In 2022, she was named an inaugural Letras Boricuas Fellow by the Flamboyan Foundation.

We are thrilled to be publishing this award-winning collection. Congratulations, Margarita!

University of Arizona Press at 2023 FILUNI Book Fair

We’re excited to share some images from La Feria Internacional del Libro de las Universitarias y de los Universitarios, (FILUNI) 2023!

This year’s book fair was held in late August at the UNAM Center in Mexico City. FILUNI brings together editors, academics, librarians, researchers, professors, and the general public with the goal of supporting international university publishers. Learn more about FILUNI by visiting their website.

Though we weren’t able to attend in person, we’re grateful to the Association of University Presses for displaying our books at the fair!

Below, you’ll see a few of our books on display: Federico: One Man’s Remarkable Journey from Tututepec to L.A. by Federico Jiménez Caballero, edited by Shelby Tisdale; Border Water: The Politics of U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Water Management, 1945–2015 by Stephen P. Mumme; and Where We Belong: Chemehuevi and Caxcan Preservation of Sacred Mountains by Daisy Ocampo.

The flyer tucked inside each book has a list of titles, including the ones you see here, that are available for translation!

New Titles Available for Translation

One of the reasons we love FILUNI is that it helps us connect with translators! Translation rights are currently available for many of our titles. To learn more, or to request a complimentary PDF for review, please contact our subsidiary rights department.

Photo Credit: Kate Kolendo, AUPresses

Shelby Tisdale Presents “No Place for a Lady” at the University of Arizona

September 19, 2023

Shelby Tisdale gave a talk on her recent book, No Place for a Lady, on September 18th, 2023 at the University of Arizona’s ENR2 building. We were delighted to attend this event, which was hosted by the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society. Thanks for including us!

Held in the beautiful ENR2 building on the University of Arizona campus, we were happy to display Shelby Tisdale’s recent No Place for a Lady (2023) and Federico (2021), which she edited.
Shelby Tisdale gave a wonderful presentation on the life and work of Marjorie F. Lambert, the subject of No Place for a Lady.
Thanks to everyone for coming and attending on Zoom!
We love our authors!

About No Place for a Lady:

In the first half of the twentieth century, the canyons and mesas of the Southwest beckoned and the burgeoning field of archaeology thrived. Among those who heeded the call, Marjorie Ferguson Lambert became one of only a handful of women who left their imprint on the study of southwestern archaeology and anthropology.

In this delightful biography, we gain insight into a time when there were few women establishing full-time careers in anthropology, archaeology, or museums. Shelby Tisdale successfully combines Lambert’s voice from extensive interviews with her own to take us on a thought-provoking journey into how Lambert created a successful and satisfying professional career and personal life in a place she loved (the American Southwest) while doing what she loved.

Through Lambert’s life story we gain new insight into the intricacies and politics involved in the development of archaeology and museums in New Mexico and the greater Southwest. We also learn about the obstacles that young women had to maneuver around in the early years of the development of southwestern archaeology as a profession. Tisdale brings into focus one of the long-neglected voices of women in the intellectual history of anthropology and archaeology and highlights how gender roles played out in the past in determining the career paths of young women. She also highlights what has changed and what has not in the twenty-first century.

Women’s voices have long been absent throughout history, and Marjorie Lambert’s story adds to the growing literature on feminist archaeology.

Excerpt from “Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán”

Mexico’s Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán: From Deserts to Clouds by David Yetman and Alberto Búrquez provides an accessible and photographic view of the culture, history, and environment of an extraordinary region of southern Mexico. The Valleys of Cuicatlán and Tehuacán are lauded by botanists for their spectacular plant life—they contain the densest columnar cacti forests in the world. Recent archaeological excavations reveal them also to be a formative Mesoamerican site as well. So singular is this region that it is home to the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán Biosphere Reserve and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Through firsthand experience and engaging prose, the authors provide a synthesis of the geology, ecology, history, and cultures of the valleys, showing their importance and influence as Mesoamerican arteries for environmental and cultural interchange through Mexico. It also reveals the extraordinary plant life that draws from habitats ranging from deserts to tropical forests. Below read an excerpt from the book.

I first traveled through the Valley of Tehuacán in 1969, driving an old Land Rover south en route to the city of Oaxaca. I recall very little of the region, except for a semidesert landscape, unending mountains, interminable curves, and the plodding, smoking diesel trucks crowding the narrow, shoulderless highway. Those trucks, known in Mexico as tórtones, heavy, usually overladen, are seldom seen now. In those days, tórtones clogged the mountain roads, belching black clouds of diesel smoke. Their parking brakes would often fail, so when drivers suffered a flat tire, they would block the wheels with large rocks to keep the monsters from rolling out of control. The tire replaced, the operators would drive away, leaving the large rocks behind for other vehicles to run into. My Land Rover was a good choice for that terrain, for the road was also laden with potholes, cracks, washouts, and landslides.

A modern expressway connecting the cities of Tehuacán and Oaxaca would not be completed until after the turn of the twenty-first century. The road through the Cuicatlán Valley, which connects to the Valley of Tehuacán and leads nearly to Oaxaca, was still a dirt track. It often washed out during the summer rains or was rendered impassable by multiple landslides. If paved, that route would have shortened the trip by a couple of hours.

It was not until the year 2000 that I visited the valleys themselves, walking through the hills and stopping by some of their small towns. By then the roads had been expanded and improved, and graded roads replaced many unimproved tracks. Since that trip I have logged more than twenty visits, discovering sights, peoples, and natural history features I had previously overlooked. Potholes are now fewer. Road-blocking landslides are still a hazard.

Alberto Búrquez joined me on an exploration of the valleys in 2003. He had visited previously as a lecturer in ecology at UNAM, Mexico’s National Autonomous University. He could hardly resist bringing his students to one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. I have often envied the easy access he had in those years to the valleys of Tehuacán and Cuicatlán, only a few hours’ drive from the southern limits of Mexico City, where UNAM is situated.

Alberto and I collaborated on projects throughout the 1990s, focusing on the plants and vegetation of the northwestern Mexican state of Sonora, where he had been born and raised and now held a distinguished post as professor of ecology for UNAM. We had a list of places in Sonora to visit and study, he as an ecologist studying the relationships between plants and animals, I as a philosopher who found Mexico’s natural and cultural history so rich that I abandoned my philosophical musings. On another visit to Oaxaca around 2005, we agreed that it was time for us to collaborate on a book on the valleys we had come to hold in the highest esteem. Though they lie far from the Sonora with which we are familiar, the valleys bear a close ecological resemblance to that state far to the northwest. Out of that easy agreement with my friend came this book.

What would impel us to expend the effort and expense in writing a book about these valleys, so far from our homes in the Sonoran Desert? After all, the first impression visitors experience for much of the year is one of semidesert, drought, and, in places, a parched, often eroded landscape (except after summer rains). Yet unless one is in a hurry to get from Tehuacán to Oaxaca or the reverse, it is difficult not to be impressed by the vegetation and landscapes visible from a vehicle. The combination of cactus forests, plants of unusual shapes and densities, and minor roads leading off into the bush and hills in all directions poses an irresistible draw to anyone with a curiosity about natural and human history. The mountains on either side that engulf the valleys seem to shield mysteries beyond the cliffs and forests that ring the east side and the forbiddingly steep desert slopes on the west. The landscapes away from the cities and viewed up close reveal human occupation deep in antiquity. Churches, ancient as well as new, most of them visible from afar, grace every settlement, be it a village or a town. Place names roll off the tongue, evoking times long before Europeans ordered the prefacing of aboriginal names with the titles of saints, Indigenous names like Alpizagua, Atatlahuca, Altepexi, Atolotitlán, Axuxco, Coxcatlán, Metzontla, Miahuatlán, Nanahuatípam, Tecomavaca, Teotitlán, Zapotitlán, Zinacatepec, and on and on. The modern, urban Mexico of the city of Tehuacán grades quickly into hamlets and villages, where old traditions endure and life proceeds at a slower pace. Sophisticated dwellers from the megapolis of Mexico City find the allure of the valleys as compelling as I do.

The closer we looked, the more extraordinary and complex the valleys became. Dense forests of columnar cacti swathe the hillsides with their color: there are eighteen species of the giants, more than in any similar tract in the world. Within the valleys we find not just unusual vegetation, but also a host of endemic species and strange plants with names like elephant’s foot, mother-in-law’s chair, old man, and (ahem!) ball swellers. The endless varieties and combinations of trees, shrubs, agaves, yuccas, and cacti poke out of cliffs, protrude from tropical forests adjacent to barren deserts, emerge from unexcavated pyramids, lurk in obscure canyons, and hide in oak woodlands and pine forests. The Indigenous peoples of the valleys, at least eight different linguistic groups, persist, some even thriving.

Five Questions for Louis Friedman

September 18, 2023


Humans have always been fascinated by the possibility of extraterrestrial life, often wondering if we are alone in the universe. Alone but Not Lonely, Exploring for Extraterrestrial Life answers those questions. Drawing on nearly fifty years as a leader in planetary exploration, author Louis Friedman brings into focus the subject of extraterrestrial life, separating knowledge from conjecture, fact from fiction, to draw scientific and technical conclusions that answer this enduring question.

What first sparked your interest to write this book?

I was motivated to write this book by the work I was doing with colleagues at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory about using the solar gravity lens to image exoplanets. Magnifying light by 100 billion times with the solar gravity lens would give us the ability to see life on other worlds throughout the galaxy!  The challenge of designing a mission to reach the focus of the solar gravity lens is an exciting one to be working on. It’s hard, but we can do it; as opposed to interstellar flight which is not practical.

Why do you think people are so interested in life beyond planet Earth?

For the whole of human history we have wondered about the nature of life and our place in the Universe.  We wandered through religion and folklore, myths and stories—but now we wonder through science and exploration.  As Carl Sagan used to say, if you are not interested in the question of “are we alone and the nature of life in the Universe,” you must be made of wood. 

Why are you excited about comparative astrobiology? 

Comparative astrobiology will teach us about ourselves and our place in the Universe.  When we eventually find and compare life on other worlds to what has happened here, it will give us insights just as did the discovery of the nature of gravity and that the Earth was not the center of the Universe, but one object among billions of other—that we compare our planet to.  

Why did you, Carl Sagan, and Bruce Murray start the Planetary Society?

In the late 1970s NASA was planning to cease planetary exploration entirely, despite the enormous success and public interest from the Viking and Voyager missions. Sagan and Murray recognized that public interest needed to be expressed and thus we began the development of The Planetary Society as a citizens-based advocacy group promoting exploration of other worlds and the search for extraterrestrial life.  

What is your next research project?

I am following up the subject in this book of exploring exoplanets remotely by use of the solar gravity lens.  I hope to contribute to making a mission to the foci of habitable exoplanets possible in the next decade.  

***
Louis Friedman co-founded the Planetary Society with Carl Sagan and Bruce Murray and was its executive director for thirty years. He has contributed to numerous journals and is the author of Starsailing: Solar Sails and Interstellar Travel, Human Spaceflight: From Mars to the Stars, and Planetary Adventures: From Moscow to Mars.

Texas Book Festival Invites García and Momen

September 15, 2023

Authors Alma García and Mehnaaz Momen have been invited to the Texas Book Festival in Austin, Texas, November 11 -12. García will talk about her debut novel, All That Rises, and Momen will discuss Listening to Laredo, A Border City in a Globalized Age.

The Texas Book Festival (TBF) began with a simple purpose: to bring authors and readers together in a celebration of literature and literacy. Founded in 1995 by Laura Bush (a former librarian and then First Lady of Texas), Mary Margaret Farabee, and a dedicated group of volunteers, the TBF set out to honor Texas authors, promote the joys of reading, and benefit the state’s public libraries. The first Festival took place in November 1996 and is now one of the nation’s premier annual literary events, featuring 300 authors of the year’s best books and drawing 50,000 book lovers. Discover all the 2023 Festival authors.

Congratulations to Alma and Mehnaaz!

About All That Rises:

In the border city of El Paso, Texas, two guardedly neighboring families have plunged headlong into a harrowing week. Rose Marie DuPre, wife and mother, has abandoned her family. On the doorstep of the Gonzales home, long-lost rebel Inez appears. As Rose Marie’s husband, Huck (manager of a maquiladora), and Inez’s brother, Jerry (a college professor), struggle separately with the new shape of their worlds, Lourdes, the Mexican maid who works in both homes, finds herself entangled in the lives of her employers, even as she grapples with a teenage daughter who only has eyes for el otro lado—life, American style.

About Listening to Laredo:

Nestled between Texas and Tamaulipas, Laredo was once a quaint border town, nurturing cultural ties across the border, attracting occasional tourists, and serving as the home of people living there for generations. In a span of mere decades, Laredo has become the largest inland port in the United States and a major hub of global trade. Listening to Laredo is an exploration of how the dizzying forces of change have defined this locale, how they continue to be inscribed and celebrated, and how their effects on the physical landscape have shaped the identity of the city and its people.

Excerpt from “Urban Indigeneities”

Today a majority of Indigenous peoples live in urban areas: they are builders and cleaners, teachers and lawyers, market women and masons, living in towns and cities surrounded by the people and pollution that characterize life for most individuals in the twenty-first century. Despite this basic fact, the vast majority of studies on Indigenous peoples concentrate solely on rural Indigenous populations.

Aiming to highlight these often-overlooked communities, Urban Indigeneities: Being Indigenous in the Twenty-First Century edited by Dana Brablec and Andrew Canessa  is the first book to look at urban Indigenous peoples globally and present the urban Indigenous experience—not as the exception but as the norm. The contributing essays draw on a wide range of disciplines, including sociology, anthropology, architecture, land economy, and area studies, and are written by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars. The analysis looks at Indigenous people across the world and draws on examples not usually considered within the study of indigeneity, such as Fiji, Japan, and Russia.

Indigeneity is often seen as being “authentic” when it is practiced in remote rural areas, but these essays show that a vigorous, vibrant, and meaningful indigeneity can be created in urban spaces too. The book challenges many of the imaginaries and tropes of what constitutes “the Indigenous” and offers perspectives and tools to understand a contemporary Indigenous urban reality. As such, it is a must-read for anyone interested in the real lives of Indigenous people today. Read an excerpt from the book below.

We are all familiar with the image of the Indigenous person in forests or mountains living close to and in harmony with the natural environment, enjoying a traditional lifestyle distant from the realities of a modern world. The reality is that an increasing proportion of Indigenous peoples today live in urban areas (UN Habitat 2010). They are builders and cleaners, teachers and lawyers, market women and masons, living in towns and cities surrounded by the people and pollution that characterize life for most of us in the twenty first century.

Despite this basic reality of contemporary Indigenous life, the vast majority of studies on Indigenous peoples still concentrate on the rural Indigenous. There are a number of reasons for this. Even though Indigenous peoples have lived in cities for centuries and even created some of the largest cities of their era (e.g., Cuzco in Peru, and Tenochtitlan in Mexico), from the time of Rousseau, Hobbes, and Locke, Europeans and their descendants have seen Indigenous peoples as living in a “state of nature” and so were not only blind to an Indigenous history in cities, but even when they did appear in urban spaces, they were considered to be no longer Indigenous by definition. This close association of indigeneity with the wild spaces continues right through to the twenty-first century, where the “authentic” Indigenous subject is deemed to live in the forests and mountains far from urban life and, if not in a state of nature, certainly in harmony with it. To situate so resolutely the Indigenous beyond the urban is not only to ignore history but also to deprive Indigenous peoples of their cultural agency and their ability to create identities in any space they choose. The social sciences in general have been largely complicit in this, although there are some notable exceptions (Howard and Proulx 2011; Furlan 2017; Horn 2019). This book, written by Indigenous and non-Indigenous authors, is the first to look at urban Indigenous peoples globally and to present the urban Indigenous experience not as the exception, but as the norm it is.

Contributors
Aiko Ikemura Amaral
Chris Andersen
Giuliana Borea
Dana Brablec
Andrew Canessa
Sandra del Valle Casals
Stanislav Saas Ksenofontov
Daniela Peluso
Andrey Petrov
Marya Rozanova-Smith
Kate Stevens
Kanako Uzawa

Five Questions for Mehnaaz Momen

September 12, 2023

Nestled between Texas and Mexico, the city of Laredo was a quaint border town, nurturing cultural ties across the river, attracting occasional tourists, and populated with people living there for generations. In Listening to Laredo, Mehnaaz Momen traces Laredo’s history and evolution through the voices of its people. She examines the changing economic and cultural infrastructure of the city, its interdependence with its sister city across the national boundary, and, above all, the resilience of the community as it adapts to and even challenges the national narrative on the border.

Why did you embark on this work?

I moved to Laredo from Cleveland in 2002 because I got a job at Texas A&M International University. I always loved the historic feel of the city and its rich heritage. However, I could not make sense of its urban growth patterns. All the theories I had learnt in my Urban Studies program felt inadequate for the then second-fastest growing city with its core of Spanish plazas, which remained underutilized, and the growing warehouses that surrounded the city. There were no delineable suburbs and yet there was a striking north/south divide. I wanted to study the city through the lenses of urban theory, so I wrote a few articles on Laredo. But it was much later in 2017 that I started working on a book-length manuscript. I was inspired by academic curiosity about the city at first, but after living here for two decades, it feels like an intellectual responsibility to understand the city and share my frame of analysis with a broader audience.

Your approach is very hands-on. You conducted interviews with 75 residents of Laredo. Why did you choose an ethnographic approach for your research?

My original plan was to contrast urban theory with material from the interviews of local residents. Almost as soon as I started the interviews, I knew that the local narratives about the border deserved exclusive attention. The local and national implications of a border region are not only different but often in conflict. When Laredo emerged as the largest inland port of the nation, global trade eclipsed all other frames of viewing the border. In the literary and cultural spheres, as well as in academia, the border has seldom been defined by the people who live in that space. It was fascinating how the different aspects of their stories were connected organically, which allowed me to weave a comprehensive story of Laredo. This is one of the main contributions of my work, namely to bring out the voices from the border to define the problems and possibilities of border cities.

Laredo is not only the locus of your research, it is also your home. What do you want the world to know about Laredo and border communities like it?

Laredo was the place where I got a job and reluctantly settled in. It took me a number of years to look at Laredo without preconceived notions even though I was living there. The cultural stereotype of the border is ingrained in all of us. I want my readers to see Laredo from the eyes of the people who live there by choice. We always hear about the dangers of the border, but the border is fragile, the border is beautiful, and the border is evolving. The border is full of possibilities, especially because it is always a little wild. For the people who live on the border, it was historically an abstract notion that had legal and political restrictions but did not obstruct cultural and economic exchanges. It is global trade and the politics surrounding the border wall that have turned the border into a concrete obstruction that has significantly curtailed economic and social flows between the two sides of the river. This hasn’t made the border safer; rather, it is stripping away the unique features of border areas.   

Even though you’ve been a resident of Laredo for more than two decades, you’re careful to point out in the book that you are still an outsider. Why was this important?

With the exception of my home city, Dhaka, where I grew up and lived for twenty-five years, Laredo is the only other city where I have lived so long, especially as an adult. I was an outsider in Laredo in all senses of the term. As an outsider, perhaps I was able to perceive a lot more anomalies of the city than a local person. The city is 95% Hispanic but has a stable history of intermarriages and has always made room for outsiders. Actually, in Laredo vocabulary, the outside/insider divide is neither national nor ethnic, but rather who is part of the community. In that sense, my relationship with the city changed because of this book. Laredo became a home for me through this process.

I was very conscious that I was writing the stories of a number of people with whom I don’t have a shared memory or shared history. I was bringing my academic and other life experiences to connect their stories to a framework of analysis, but my voice is not the nucleus. It is important to note that although I am an observer and a participant, this story belongs to the people of Laredo.

What is your next project?

I am working on a couple of articles using the materials from the interviews, information that I could not incorporate in the book because of the word limit. I am also working on a project with Webb County which will collect primary information about county services. Hopefully by next year I can expand my research to other border cities and explore their growth patterns. I want to start an alternate conversation about the border which acknowledges the prospects of the border and border people beyond the myopic view of disorder and trade calculations. 

***
Mehnaaz Momen is an associate professor in the Department of Social Sciences at Texas A&M International University. Her research interests include citizenship, immigration policy, urban theory, public space, political satire, and marginality. She is the author of The Paradox of Citizenship in American Politics: Ideals and Reality and Political Satire, Postmodern Reality, and the Trump Presidency: Who Are We Laughing At?

Author photo by Laila Nahar

Mehnaaz Momen Reveals Laredo’s Border Battles in the L.A. Times

September 11, 2023

Mehnaaz Momen, author of Listening to Laredo, tells the story of the largest port in the United States through the voices of its residents. In this L.A. Times Editorial, Momen writes, “The flow of money has shifted from the city itself to the four international bridges tying the local economy to the crumbs of international trade. Homegrown economic growth helped bring prosperity to the city in the 1960s and ’70s. The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, however, transformed the beautiful downtown and the mighty Rio Grande into a mere passage for money, merchandise and narcotics.”

She interviewed Alec Martinez, a local resident who has worked in city government. He told her, “Laredo is like the goose that lays the golden eggs. Everyone is interested in the eggs, but no one cares about the goose.”

Momen offers hope for the city, in spite of state and national efforts to militarize the border. She writes, “Laredoans are excitedly awaiting the construction of the River Vega project, a binational park planned to run along the much-maligned Rio Grande for residents of Laredo as well as Nuevo Laredo across the border. This project has grown out of a community-driven master plan, Viva Laredo, focused on reanimating the historic downtown and enhancing quality-of-life features for residents.”

About the book:

Listening to Laredo is an exploration of how the dizzying forces of change have defined this locale, how they continue to be inscribed and celebrated, and how their effects on the physical landscape have shaped the identity of the city and its people.

In contrast to the many studies of border cities defined by the outside—and seldom by the people who live at the border—this volume collects oral histories from seventy-five in-depth interviews that collectively illuminate the evolution of the city’s cultural and economic infrastructure, its interdependence with its sister city across the national boundary, and, above all, the strength of its community as it adapts to and even challenges the national narrative regarding the border.

Excerpt from “Listening to Laredo”

Nestled between Texas and Tamaulipas, Laredo was once a quaint border town, nurturing cultural ties across the border, attracting occasional tourists, and serving as the home of people living there for generations. In a span of mere decades, Laredo has become the largest inland port in the United States and a major hub of global trade. Listening to Laredo: A Border City in a Globalized Age by Mehnaaz Momen is an exploration of how the dizzying forces of change have defined this locale, how they continue to be inscribed and celebrated, and how their effects on the physical landscape have shaped the identity of the city and its people.

Bringing together issues of growth, globalization, and identity, Momen traces Laredo’s trajectory through the voices of its people. In contrast to the many studies of border cities defined by the outside—and seldom by the people who live at the border—this volume collects oral histories from seventy-five in-depth interviews that collectively illuminate the evolution of the city’s cultural and economic infrastructure, its interdependence with its sister city across the national boundary, and, above all, the strength of its community as it adapts to and even challenges the national narrative regarding the border. The resonant and lively voices of Laredo’s people convey proud ownership of an archetypal border city that has time and again resurrected itself. Read an excerpt from the book below.

The largest inland port of the United States along the U.S.-Mexico boundary is Laredo, which before the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) used to be a dusty little border town with a quaint history. Nestled between the U.S.-Mexico territory along the Rio Grande in Texas, the city is older than the United States. Fueled by a dizzying spell of growth that occurred in the short span of three decades, Laredo surpassed Los Angeles to become the largest port of any kind—sea, land, or air—in the United States in 2019. The aura of the bygone age surrounding its charming downtown is now overshadowed by negative ordeals associated with trade and migration. The flocks of tourists and traders to the twin cities on both sides of the Rio Grande—Laredo and Nuevo Laredo—are now memories of a departed era. The same features of proximity to Mexico and ease of passage currently spell disorder and chaos in the political discourse. The border of Laredo has become synonymous with international trade to a greater extent than in the past. Under this new iteration, the remarkable history of the rich culture, economic success, and spatial evolution of Laredo is being buried. This book attempts to excavate the story of the city from the viewpoints and experiences of the people who actually live there to make sense of the concurrent drifts of being a historic city, a border city, and a global trade center.

Historic cities emphasize their glorious pasts; border cities are perceived as intermediate sites between nation-states, allowing clandestine activities; and global cities are centers of unmitigated growth. Historic cities are formed by the annals of antiquity, border cities are characterized by peripheral conflicts around boundaries, and global cities attempt to navigate national boundaries with the promise of economic boons. Laredo boasts of the distinct record of having been under seven flags (one as the capital of a short-lived republic), and its intricate history has served as a matter of pride for the people. The overwhelmingly Hispanic town relished its interdependent relationship with the people of Nuevo Laredo, which included family and business bonds going back several generations. Even though borders are contested sites for nation-states—and Laredo had been disputed terrain between Mexicans, Texans, and Americans—the umbilical cord between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo remained robust until Laredo evolved into a global port. Geography situated the coupled cities along a navigable river but detached from other metropolises, which strengthened their mutual dependence. Laredo has a long history of benign neglect by all the nation-states to which it belonged. The city flourished organically by taking advantage of its location and cultivating a socioeconomic hierarchy nuzzled in ethnic and cultural homogeneity.

An economic windfall came to Laredo during the Civil War when Laredo became a center for smuggling the cotton that funded the Confederate army. The city blossomed into a trade center by the turn of the twentieth century. Local folklore goes so far as to claim that by the 1950s, downtown Laredo was more prosperous than New York. The 1980s devaluation of the peso brought disaster to the retail economy heavily dependent on Mexican customers. Globalization ushered in a new meaning for border territories in the 1990s, as Laredo found itself perfectly situated to be a key locale in the postindustrial economy in the thriving Sunbelt, with an existing transportation network and abundant cheap labor on its periphery. The neoliberal growth rationale for border zones is based on transportation, consumption, and enhancement of the state apparatus with incessant surveillance, a notable deviation from the established pattern of the gradual progress of a city.

As the busiest land port, Laredo functions as a major link in the expansive global trade web, which requires simultaneous speedy transit and strict policing of the nation-state’s boundary. With its newfound international trade link, the codependency between Laredo and Nuevo Laredo has evaporated. Nuevo Laredo, the largest transportation nerve center in Mexico, fell under the power of the drug cartels as its location in the global network abetted narcotics transactions. In this new reality, the river, roads, and bridges are all under constant supervision, impairing the previous openness of the border. Only large freight trucks enjoy swift entrance from the south. The ceaseless flow of people across the border is a not-so-distant memory and is mourned by residents. Local concerns about preserving water quality and the riverbank or even investing in homegrown businesses have to compete with national or international trade and growth imperatives. The evolution of Laredo reveals both internal and external elements in the process of economic advancement and the formation of cultural identity in the border city.

Tom Zoellner Is Keynote Speaker for Arizona Library Association

August 31, 2023

Tom Zoellner will speak on “The Arizona Literary Tradition” at the Arizona Library Association conference on October 19, 2023, at the We Ko Pa Resort in Fort McDowell, Arizona. Zoellner, author of Rim to River, will talk about the writing tradition in Arizona. Many great works of non-fiction come from Arizona; however, something is missing. He says, “There have been plenty of very good novels set here, but none that has truly captured the essence of the state. This is a challenge laid before the state’s fiction writers: where is the Great Arizona Novel? Can you write it, please?”

About the book:

Rim to River is the story of Zoellner’s walk on the Arizona Trail. Follow his extraordinary journey through redrock country, down canyons, up mesas, and across desert plains to the obscure valley in Mexico that gave the state its enigmatic name. The trek is interspersed with incisive essays that pick apart the distinctive cultural landscape of Arizona: the wine-colored pinnacles and complex spirituality of Navajoland, the mind-numbing stucco suburbs, desperate border crossings, legislative skullduggery, extreme politics, billion-dollar copper ventures, dehydrating rivers, retirement kingdoms, old-time foodways, ghosts of old wars, honky-tonk dreamers, murder mysteries, and magical Grand Canyon reveries.

Aldama, Lomelí & Gómez Finalists for 2023 International Latino Book Award

August 28, 2023

We are pleased to announce that two of our books were recently selected as finalists for the 2023 International Latino Book Awards: Latinx TV in the Twenty-First Century, edited by Frederick Luis Aldama in the “Best Academic Themed Book, College Level – English” category, and Juan Felipe Herrera: Migrant, Activist, Poet Laureate, edited by Francisco A. Lomelí and Osiris Aníbal Gómez in the “Best Biography” category.

The International Latino Book Awards recognize excellence in literature, honoring books written in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, with the goal of “growing the awareness for books written by, for and about Latinos.”

Frederick Luis Aldama, also known as Professor Latinx, is the Jacob & Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Radio-Television-Film at the University of Texas at Austin, as well as Adjunct Professor and Distinguished University Professor at The Ohio State University. He is the award-winning author of more than forty-eight books, including the bilingual children’s books The Adventures of Chupacabra Charlie and With Papá. He is editor or co-editor of nine academic press book series, including Latinographix, which publishes Latinx comics. He is the creator of the first documentary on the history of Latinx superheroes and the founder and director of UT Austin’s Latinx Pop Lab.

Francisco A. Lomelí is professor emeritus and distinguished professor of Chicano/a studies and Latin American literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has published extensively on Mexican, Chilean, Argentine, and Chicano/a literatures, as well as multiple reference works in the field of Chicano/a studies.

Osiris Aníbal Gómez is an assistant professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. His areas of expertise include contemporary Indigenous literatures of Mexico, Mexican literature, Chicano/a literature, and translation studies. His work explores the condition, aesthetics, and social justice possibilities of bilingual Indigenous and Chicanx writers.

Congratulations to all!

Dante Lauretta and Brian May Interviewed about “Bennu 3-D”

August 29, 2023

In England, The Guardian newspaper featured Bennu 3-D, Anatomy of an Asteroid and its authors in the week leading up to the book launch at the London Museum of Natural History on July 27. Dante Lauretta told his side of the story about how he and Brian May came to collaborate: “As the OSIRIS-REx mission progressed, I couldn’t help but share some of the latest developments with him … To my delight, Brian showed a keen interest in the mission and the science behind it. It was clear that he was not just a casual fan, but a true space enthusiast and an advocate for space exploration.” Lauretta eventually brought May on to the mission, who, alongside his collaborator Claudia Manzoni, created stereo images from original images that were collected by the OSIRIS-REx cameras.

Space.com’s Tereza Pultarova interviewed Brian May, co-author of Bennu 3-D. She spoke with May about his role in bringing stereoscopic photography to the OSIRIS-REx NASA mission.

The rock-star-turned-astrophysicist explained how he came to be part of the team: “So what happened with me and Dante, is that I sent him just off the cuff a couple of OSIRIS-REx images which I’d made into 3D. And he was amazed. He said ‘I have never seen it like this, this is such a great tool and this might be able to help us find the landing site that we need in order to get that sample safely.'”

In another article focusing on the book, Space.com listed May’s other scientific projects. May, who holds a PhD in astronomy, had previously collaborated with the science teams behind Europe’s comet-chasing Rosetta probe and NASA’s Pluto explorer New Horizons. He joined the OSIRIS-REx team in January 2019, a few months after the probe reached its destination, after striking up a friendship with Lauretta over shared interests.

In fact, NASA’s OSIRIS-REx chief scientist Dante Lauretta and Brian May challenge Space.com readers to photograph objects in the solar system. The prize? A signed copy of Bennu 3-D, Anatomy of an Asteroid. Watch the contest announcement video here. Astrophotographers can submit their entries into the competition by email to spacephotos@space.com by Sept. 15. Be sure to include “astrophoto competition” in the subject line to be considered.

About the book:

The world’s first complete (and stereoscopic) atlas of an asteroid, this book is the result of a unique collaboration between OSIRIS-REx mission leader Dante Lauretta and Brian May’s London Stereoscopic Company. Lauretta’s colleagues include Carina Bennett, Kenneth Coles, and Cat Wolner, as well as Brian May and Claudia Manzoni, who became part of the ultimately successful effort to find a safe landing site for sampling. The text details the data collected by the mission so far, and the stereo images have been meticulously created by Manzoni and May from original images collected by the OSIRIS-REx cameras.


The print edition includes 120 illustrations, 50 maps, 80 stereoscopic images, and includes stereoscopic glasses.

Diego Báez and the Evolution of his Political Consciousness in Alta

August 28, 2023

In the Alta article Abolition, Anarchism, and a Question of Action, Diego Báez reflects on the books and editorials that have shaped his political view. He begins his review in 2009 and concludes with the present time. These writings include Class Struggle and the Origin of Racial Slavery: The Invention of the White Race, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire and Revolution in the Borderlands, and an editorial for the New York Times titled “Yes, We Mean Literally Abolish the Police.”

Diego Báez has a debut collection coming out in February 2024, Yaguareté White. In this collection English, Spanish, and Guaraní encounter each other through the elusive yet potent figure of the jaguar. 

The son of a Paraguayan father and a mother from Pennsylvania, Baéz grew up in central Illinois as one of the only brown kids on the block—but that didn’t keep him from feeling like a gringo on family visits to Paraguay. Exploring this contradiction as it weaves through experiences of language, self, and place, Baéz revels in showing up the absurdities of empire and chafes at the limits of patrimony, but he always reserves his most trenchant irony for the gaze he turns on himself.

“Discover Arizona” Class with Our Authors

August 24, 2023

Our authors are teaching a class this fall at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Arizona! Tim Hunter, Juliet Stromberg, Tom Zoellner, and William L. Bird take you behind the scenes of their books in “Discover Arizona Days and Nights with The University of Arizona Press Authors,” four Wednesdays starting October 18. The classes meet 1:00 – 2:45 p.m., at the Central Tucson campus, 4485 N. 1st Ave. (at the NW corner of 1st Avenue and Wetmore Road). Classes will be in person and via zoom. Registration is open for all fall OLLI-UA classes.

Tim Hunter, author of The Sky at Night, covers all the basics—from the Moon, planets, and stars to the history and origins of constellations and selected famous astronomers and events. Emphasis is on naked-eye viewing with an occasional reference to using a pair of binoculars or a small telescope, encouraging beginners to explore the skies.

Tom Zoellner, author of Rim to River, hiked the Arizona Trail through redrock country, down canyons, up mesas, and across desert plains. The trek is interspersed with incisive essays that pick apart the distinctive cultural landscape of Arizona: the wine-colored pinnacles and complex spirituality of Navajoland,  desperate border crossings, extreme politics, billion-dollar copper ventures, old-time foodways, and more.

William “Larry” Bird, author of In the Arms of Saguaros, shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their images have fulfilled attention-getting needs and expectations. The history of the saguaro’s popular and highly imaginative range points to the current moment in which the saguaro touches us as a global icon in art, fashion, and entertainment.

In Bringing Home the Wild, Juliet Stromberg tells of her 20-year journey in ecologically guided gardening on a four-acre irrigated parcel in Phoenix, from the perspective of a retired botanist. Some plants are indigenous to the American Southwest, while others are part of the biocultural heritage of the cityscape. She makes the case for valuing inclusive biodiversity.

Class Schedule

Oct. 18 Tim Hunter, The Sky at Night (in person)

Oct. 25 Tom Zoellner, Rim to River (zoom or in person, to be determined)

Nov. 1 William “Larry” Bird, In the Arms of Saguaros (in person)

Nov. 8 Juliet Stromberg, Bringing Home the Wild (zoom)

In Honor of Aurelie Sheehan: An Excerpt from “Demigods on Speedway”

August 18, 2023

In the tradition of Joyce’s DublinersDemigods on Speedway is a portrait of a city that reflects the recession-era Southwest. Inspired by tales from Greek mythology, these gritty heroes and heroines struggle to find their place in the cosmos.

In 2014, we celebrated the publication of Aurelie Sheehan’s book, Demigods on Speedway. Today, we re-share a portion of the excerpt in honor of her memory and tremendous contributions:


Tucsonans might trash their sister city, but all things considered, Phoenix does wield some charms. It has an echelon of restaurants and hotels mostly lacking here, for instance. Because landowners care not about the cost of water or the environmental impact of watering the desert, it’s much greener overall. Little rivulets by malls. Major, awesome lawns. In fact, it was some kind of hardcore lawn fertilizer that killed Fandango . . . at this moment being cremated. Or who will be, soon. His body is waiting somewhere, in the sort of place it’s preferable not to think about at all.


All beauty is wasted, all beauty will end, Terri is thinking, keenly aware of the unholy joke of immediate, rude extinction, the disregard the majority partner seems to have when it comes to maintaining the social contract—the capacity to be social, as Terri now interprets it, to look and listen and feel. Fandango is dead. And it goes on from there: we’re talking doom, individually and in great swaths. We’re talking the aging process. And so you need to capture life for the brief moments you can. Look at that barrel cactus.


Terri would not have come down to Tucson if Chris had been around, but he is working on a project in New Orleans this week. The kids are also both gone for the night—sleepovers. To be frank, her husband may not have been as helpful as Sarah (a good listener, Terri knows), because he adopts a fatalistic, purportedly practical stance in times of trouble: “It was his time,” “Crying can’t bring him back,” “We’ll get another one,” et cetera. Still, it would have felt awkward to leave for the weekend, if he were home. “Sisters have a special bond” might have come in handy in that circumstance. All in all, it was cleaner and easier not to have had to talk about it, to have just gotten in the car, turned on the A/C, and pretended for a couple of hours that life could be a song on the radio and a Starbucks in the cup holder and vague attention to a stretch of highway notable for its ugliness, give or take a few patches of cacti, a kitschy ostrich farm, and Picacho Peak, a lump of molten lava people climb when they have nothing better to do.

Poor Sarah. She looks like complete shit. Her very thinness looks unhealthy, a diminishing. Not the product of a compulsive fitness regimen, but of illness and overwork. It’s all because of that moron Wilbur. Ever since he broke up with her, Sarah has been a tall, thin moper. She looks like an ostrich herself, hanging her head.

“To hell with it,” says Terri, “I’m going to buy one of these small ones and just see how it does in the car.”

“Good,” says Sarah.

“I know, you have to, right?” says Alyssa.

And so the three women trudge farther into the maelstrom of xeriscape terrain, pots filled with this and that Martian-like form: the one with glorious black hair holding the spiky thing to her belly as if she’s pregnant; the squat, shorter one from Phoenix holding up, as if for inspection, a fat miniature cactus with a pink head, resembling the penis of a prickly circumcised frontiersman; the willowy one with the membership card and the 20 percent discount not holding anything at all but casting the remnant of her gaze bitterly over the entire venue, or so it seems.

The cacti aren’t really dry or barren. They just know how to conserve.


Aurelie Sheehan was the author of two novels and two short story collections. Her short fiction has appeared in Conjunctions, Fence, The Mississippi Review, New England Review, Ploughshares, and The Southern Review. She taught fiction at the University of Arizona.

Monsoon Book Roundup: Poetry & Prose to Welcome the Rain

The rain falls
on everyone’s skull
with equal charity
in a lapse from realism
makes us subjects of something more than flesh and blood
we are children of water
of longing
of uncertainty.

Elizabeth Torres, “The Rain” (Lotería, 2023)

In Tucson, the month of August is always exciting: school is about to resume, the students begin to trickle back into town, and new books are on their way. But this year, the natural flow of the season has been hampered by the unrelenting heat and scarcity of serious rain. Even the desert’s best-adapted plants have struggled to make it through this summer’s heat-wave.

At the University of Arizona Press, we find that it’s a little easier to exercise hydrological patience by looking back to some of our favorite water-writing. We hope you’ll enjoy this roundup of monsoon books—and who knows—maybe you’ll even be reading one on your back porch when the rain starts. We can always hope!

Lotería

Elizabeth Torres

The vision begins with a river. From this river, you can see a village, marine life, and ancestral rituals. It is here that you recognize origins, and a poison beginning to spread through paradise. Suddenly, a premonition: a wounded animal. The certainty of war cries. What you take with you is what you become, each movement a gamble, a lottery of life that transforms you until this moment, when uncertainty becomes an ally.

Lotería: Nocturnal Sweepstakes is a collection of deeply evocative coming-of-age poems that take the reader on a voyage through the intimate experiences of displacement. Conjuring dreamlike visions of extravagant fruits and rivers animated by the power of divination, these poems follow the speaker from the lash of war’s arrival through an urgent escape and reinvention in a land that saves with maternal instinct but also smothers its children.

In this bilingual collection, Colombian American poet Elizabeth Torres threads together the stories of family dynamics and the realities of migration with the archetypes of tarot and the traditional Lotería game, used for centuries as an object of divination and entertainment. Through these themes and images, the poems in Lotería narrate intimate moments in the lives and journeys of migrants, refugees, and all who have been forced into metamorphosis in order to reach the other side of the river.

Winner of the