Friday, April 14, 2017

New Non-Fiction

House Built on Ashes:  A Memoir 
José Antonio Rodríguez
University of Oklahoma Press - February, 2017

[from the publisher]
The year is 2009, and José Antonio Rodríguez, a doctoral student at Binghamton University in upstate New York, is packing his suitcase, getting ready to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with his parents in South Texas. He soon learns from his father that a drug cartel has overtaken the Mexican border village where he was born. Now, because of the violence there, he won’t be able to visit his early-childhood home. Instead, his memories will have to take him back.

Thus, Rodríguez begins a meditative journey into the past. Through a series of vignettes, he mines the details of a childhood and adolescence fraught with deprivation but offset by moments of tenderness and beauty. Suddenly he is four years old again, and his mother is feeding him raw sugarcane for the first time. With the sweetness still on his tongue, he runs to a field, where he falls asleep under a glowing pink sky.

The conditions of rural poverty prove too much for his family to bear, and Rodríguez moves with his mother and three of his nine siblings across the border to McAllen, Texas. Now a resident of the “other side,” Rodríguez experiences the luxury of indoor toilets and gazes at television commercials promising more food than he has ever seen. But there is no easy passage into this brighter future.

Poignant and lyrical, House Built on Ashes contemplates the promises, limitations, and contradictions of the American Dream. Even as it tells a deeply personal story, it evokes larger political, cultural, and social realities. It speaks to what America is and what it is not. It speaks to a world of hunger, prejudice, and far too many boundaries. But it speaks, as well, to the redemptive power of beauty and its life-sustaining gift of hope.

José Antonio Rodríguez, Assistant Professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, is the author of The Shallow End of Sleep and Backlit Hour.

Mestizos Come Home!: Making and Claiming Mexican American Identity
Robert Con Davis-Undiano
University of Oklahoma Press - March, 2017
[from the publisher]
Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano has described U.S. and Latin American culture as continually hobbled by amnesia—unable, or unwilling, to remember the influence of mestizos and indigenous populations. In Mestizos Come Home! author Robert Con Davis-Undiano documents the great awakening of Mexican American and Latino culture since the 1960s that has challenged this omission in collective memory. He maps a new awareness of the United States as intrinsically connected to the broader context of the Americas. At once native and new to the American Southwest, Mexican Americans have “come home” in a profound sense: they have reasserted their right to claim that land and U.S. culture as their own.

Mestizos Come Home! explores key areas of change that Mexican Americans have brought to the United States. These areas include the recognition of mestizo identity, especially its historical development across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; the re-emergence of indigenous relationships to land; and the promotion of Mesoamerican conceptions of the human body. Clarifying and bridging critical gaps in cultural history, Davis-Undiano considers important artifacts from the past and present, connecting the casta (caste) paintings of eighteenth-century Mexico to modern-day artists including John Valadez, Alma López, and Luis A. Jiménez Jr. He also examines such community celebrations as Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, and lowrider car culture as examples of mestizo influence on mainstream American culture. Woven throughout is the search for meaning and understanding of mestizo identity. 

A large-scale landmark account of Mexican American culture, Mestizos Come Home! shows that mestizos are essential to U.S. national culture. As an argument for social justice and a renewal of America’s democratic ideals, this book marks a historical cultural homecoming.

Robert Con Davis-Undiano is Neustadt Professor and Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma and Executive Director of World Literature Today. Among his many publications are The Paternal Romance: Reading God-the-Father in Early Western Culture and Criticism and Culture: The Role of Critique in Modern Literary Theory.

U.S. Central Americans: Reconstructing Memories, Struggles, and Communities of Resistance
Edited by Karina O. Alvarado, Alicia Ivonne Estrada, and Ester E. Hernández

University of Arizona Press - March, 2017

[from the publisher]
In summer 2014, a surge of unaccompanied child migrants from Central America to the United States gained mainstream visibility—yet migration from Central America has been happening for decades. U.S. Central Americans explores the shared yet distinctive experiences, histories, and cultures of 1.5-and second-generation Central Americans in the United States.

While much has been written about U.S. and Central American military, economic, and political relations, this is the first book to articulate the rich and dynamic cultures, stories, and historical memories of Central American communities in the United States. Contributors to this anthology—often writing from their own experiences as members of this community—articulate U.S. Central Americans’ unique identities as they also explore the contradictions found within this multivocal group.

Working from within Guatemalan, Salvadoran, and Maya communities, contributors to this critical study engage histories and transnational memories of Central Americans in public and intimate spaces through ethnographic, in depth, semistructured, qualitative interviews, as well as literary and cultural analysis. The volume’s generational, spatial, urban, indigenous, women’s, migrant, and public and cultural memory foci contribute to the development of U.S. Central American thought, theory, and methods. Woven throughout the analysis, migrants’ own oral histories offer witness to the struggles of displacement, travel,
navigation, and settlement of new terrain. This timely work addresses demographic changes both at universities and in cities throughout the United States. U.S. Central Americans draws connections to fields of study such as history, political science, anthropology, ethnic studies, sociology, cultural studies, and literature, as well as diaspora and border studies. 

The volume is also accessible in size, scope, and language to educators and community and service workers wanting to know about their U.S. Central American families, neighbors, friends, students, employees, and clients.

Karina O. Alvarado is a lecturer in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Alicia Ivonne Estrada is an associate professor of Chicana/o studies at California State University, Northridge. 

Ester E. Hernández is a professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o studies at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Starving for Justice:  Hunger Strikes, Spectacular Speech, and the Struggle for Dignity 
Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval
University of Arizona Press - March, 2017

[from the publisher]
In the 1990s three college campuses in California exploded as Chicano/a and Latino/a students went on hunger strikes. Through courageous self-sacrifice, these students risked their lives to challenge racial neoliberalism, budget cuts, and fee increases. The strikers acted and spoke spectacularly and, despite great odds, produced substantive change.

Social movement scholars have raised the question of why some people risk their lives to create a better world. In Starving for Justice, Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval uses interviews and archival material to examine people’s willingness to make the extreme sacrifice and give their lives in order to create a more just society.

Popular memory and scholarly discourse around social movements have long acknowledged the actions of student groups during the 1960s. Now Armbruster-Sandoval extends our understanding of social justice and activism, providing one of the first examinations of Chicana/o and Latina/o student activism in the 1990s.

Students at University of California, Los Angeles; University of California, Santa Barbara; and Stanford University went on hunger strikes to demand the establishment and expansion of Chicana/o studies departments. They also had even broader aspirations—to obtain dignity and justice for all people. These students spoke eloquently, making their bodies and concerns visible. They challenged anti-immigrant politics. They scrutinized the rapid growth of the prison-industrial complex, racial and class polarization, and the university’s neoliberalization. Though they did not fully succeed in having all their demands met, they helped generate long-lasting social change on their respective campuses, making those learning institutions more just. 

Ralph Armbruster-Sandoval is an associate professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). He is the author of Globalization and Cross-Border Labor Solidarity in the Americas: The Anti-Sweatshop Movement and the Struggle for Social Justice. He has been actively involved in struggles for human rights, labor rights, and social justice on the national, state, and local level.  

Soldados Razos at War:  Chicano Politics, Identity, and Masculinity in the U.S. Military from World War II to Vietnam
Steven Rosales

University of Arizona Press - April, 2017

 [from the publisher]
What were the catalysts that motivated Mexican American youth to enlist or readily accept their draft notice in World War II, Korea, or Vietnam? In Soldados Razos at War, historian and veteran Steven Rosales chronicles the experiences of
Chicano servicemen who fought for the United States, explaining why these men served, how they served, and the impact of their service on their identity and political consciousness.

As a social space imbued with its own martial and masculine ethos, the U.S. military offers an ideal way to study the aspirations and behaviors of these young men that carried over into their civilian lives. A tradition of martial citizenship forms the core of the book. Using rich oral histories and archival research, Rosales investigates the military’s transformative potential with a particular focus on socioeconomic mobility, masculinity, and postwar political activism across three generations.

The national collective effort characteristic of World War II and Korea differed sharply from the highly divisive nature of American involvement in Vietnam. Thus, for Mexican Americans, military service produced a wide range of ideological reactions, with the ideals of each often in opposition to the others. Yet a critical thread connecting these diverse outcomes was a redefined sense of self and a willingness to engage in individual and collective action to secure first class citizenship.

Steven Rosales is an assistant professor in the History Department at the University of Arkansas.

The Latina/o Midwest Reader
Edited by Omar Valerio-Jiménez, Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez, and Claire F. Fox 
Afterword by Frances R. Aparicio
University of Illinois Press - July, 2017

[from the publisher]

The Latina/o experience in a changing Midwest

From 2000 to 2010, the Latino population increased by more than 73 percent across eight midwestern states. These interdisciplinary essays explore issues of history, education, literature, art, and politics defining today’s Latina/o Midwest. Some contributors delve into the Latina/o revitalization of rural areas, where communities have launched bold experiments in dual-language immersion education while seeing integrated neighborhoods, churches, and sports teams become the norm. Others reveal metro areas as laboratories for emerging Latino subjectivities, places where for some, the term Latina/o itself corresponds to a new type of lived identity as different Latina/o groups interact in shared neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces.

Eye-opening and provocative, The Latina/o Midwest Reader rewrites the conventional wisdom on today's Latina/o community and how it faces challenges—and thrives—in the heartland.

Contributors: Aidé Acosta, Frances R. Aparicio, Jay Arduser, Jane Blocker, Carolyn Colvin, María Eugenia Cotera, Theresa Delgadillo, Lilia Fernández, Claire F. Fox, Felipe Hinojosa, Michael D. Innis-Jiménez, José E. Limón, Marta María Maldonado, Louis G. Mendoza, Amelia María de la Luz Montes, Kim Potowski, Ramón H. Rivera-Servera, Rebecca M. Schreiber, Omar Valerio-Jiménez, Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez, Darrel Wanzer-Serrano, Janet Weaver, and Elizabeth Willmore

Omar Valerio-Jiménez is an associate professor of history at the University of Texas at San Antonio and the author of River of Hope: Forging Identity and Nation in the Rio Grande Borderlands. Santiago Vaquera-Vásquez is an associate professor of Hispanic Southwest studies at the University of New Mexico and the author of One Day I’ll Tell You the Things I’ve Seen: Stories. Claire F. Fox is a professor in the departments of English and Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Iowa and the author of Making Art Panamerican: Cultural Policy and the Cold War.



Manuel Ramos is the author of several novels, short stories, poems, and non-fiction books and articles. His collection of short stories, The Skull of Pancho Villa and Other Stories, was a finalist for the 2016 Colorado Book Award. My Bad: A Mile High Noir was published by Arte Público Press in 2016.

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