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December 4, 2006

Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and The Challenge to the United States  By Nikolas Kozloff.  Palgrave MacMillan. August 2006.

This is the riveting and frightening story of ambitious, tempestuous and avowed anti-American Hugo Chávez, who is making waves through South America. Ex-paratrooper, outspoken socialist, and brash personality, Chávez is known for his stance against big business, fearless threats to the Bush administration, social reforms that have violently polarized his country, and claims that he will soon unite South America.  As gas prices rise to unprecedented highs, Venezuelas importance surges as the fifth largest oil exporter in the world. Nikolas Kozloffs access to top advisors, members of the opposition, and leaders of Chvezs own political movement has allowed him to present a comprehensive portrait of Chvez as he runs for re-election and moves into the global spotlight.

November 6, 2006

With Borges  By Alberto Manguel.  Telegram.  October 2006.

In 1964, in Buenos Aires, a blind writer in his sixties approached a sixteen-year-old bookstore clerk and asked if he would be interested in a part-time job reading aloud. The writer was Jorge Luis Borges, one of the world's finest literary minds; the boy was Alberto Manguel, who would become a prolific, internationally acclaimed novelist, essayist, and editor.

Manguel's reflections are part memoir, part biography, and all celebration of the living quality of literature. A moving portrait of an enigmatic genius, replete with deep insight into Borges and the writers he most admired.

October 23, 2006

Linking the Americas: Race, Hybrid Discourses, And the Reformulation of Feminine Identity  By Lesley Feracho.  SUNY Press.  June 2006.

What links women of the Americas?  How do they redefine their identities?  Lesley Feracho answers these questions through a comparative look at texts by four women writers from across the Americas -- Zora Neale Hurston, Julieta Campos, Carolina Maria de Jesus and Clarice Lispector.  She explores how their writing reformulates identity as an intricate connection of the historical, socio-cultural, and discursive, and also reveals new understandings of feminine writing as a hybrid discourse in and of itself.

October 9, 2006

Evil Hour in Colombia  By Forrest Hylton.  Verso.  September 2006.

Colombia is the least understood of Latin American countries. Its human tragedy, which features terrifying levels of kidnapping, homicide and extortion, is generally ignored or exploited. In this urgent new work, Forrest Hylton, who has extensive first-hand experience of living and working in Colombia, explores its history of 150 years of political conflict, characterized by radical-popular mobilization and reactionary repression. He shows how patterns of political conflict after 1848, and especially after 1948, explain the war currently destroying Colombian lives, property, communities and territory.  Evil Hour in Colombia also traces how Colombia's "coffee capitalism" gave way to the cattle and cocaine republic of the 1980s, and how land, wealth and power have been steadily accumulated by the light-skinned top of the social pyramid through a brutal combination of terror, expropriation and economic depression.

September 25, 2006

Dwellers of Memory: Youth and Violence in Medellin, Colombia  By Pilar Riano-Alcala.  Transaction Publishers.  February 2006.

Dwellers of Memory is an ethnographic study of how urban youth in Colombia came to be at the intersection of multiple forms of political, drug-related, and territorial violence in a country undergoing forty years of internal armed conflict. It examines the ways in which youth in the city of Medellín reconfigure their lives and cultural worlds in the face of widespread violence. This violence has transgressed familiar boundaries and destroyed basic social supports and networks of trust.

The author explores how Medellín’s youth locate themselves and make sense of violence through contradictory and shifting memory practices. The violence has not completely taken over their cultural worlds or their subjectivities. Practices of remembering and forgetting are key methods by which these youth rework their identities and make sense of the impact of violence on their lives. While the experience of violence is rooted in urban space and urban youth, the memory dwellers use a sense of place, oral histories of death, and narratives of fear as survival strategies for inhabiting violent neighborhoods. 

August 14, 2006

Appropriation as Practice: Art and Identity in Argentina  By Arnd Schneider.  Palgrave Macmillan.  June 2006.

This book makes a major contribution to the current debate on globalization, and more precisely to the question of how the "traffic in culture" is practiced, rationalized and experienced by visual artists. The book focuses on artistic practices in the appropriation of indigenous cultures, and the construction of new Latin American identities. Appropriation is the fundamental theoretical concept developed to understand these processes.

August 7, 2006

Naming Security - Constructing Identity: 'Mayan-Women' in Guatemala on the Eve of 'Peace'  By Maria Stern  Manchester University Press.  May 2006.

Based on the experiences of Mayan women, Stern critically re-considers the connections between security, subjectivity and identity. By engaging in a careful reading of how Mayan women "speak" security in relation to the different contexts that inform their lives, she explores the multiplicity of both identity and security, and questions the main story of security imbedded in the modern "paradox of sovereignty."

July 24, 2006

Can Literature Promote Justice?: Trauma Narrative And Social Action in Latin American Testimonio  By Kimberly A. Nance.  Vanderbilt University Press.  April 2006.

The advent of the testimonio--loosely, a political autobiography of a Latin American activist who hopes, through the telling of her life story, to bring about change--was met with a great deal of excitement by scholars who posited it as a radical new form of literature. Those accolades were almost immediately followed by a series of critical problems.  In what sense were testimonios "true"? What right did privileged scholars in the U.S. have to engage accounts of suffering with traditional modes of criticism? Were questions of veracity or aesthetics more important? Were these texts autobiography or political screeds? It seemed critics didn't know quite what to make of the testimonio and so, after a brief bout of engagement, disregarded it.

Nance, however, argues that any form as prolific as the testimonio is well worth examining and that these questions, rather than being insurmountable, are exactly the questions with which scholars ought to be wrestling. If, as critics claim, that the testimonio is one of the most pervasive contemporary Latin American cultural genres, then it is high time for a comprehensive study of the genre such as Nance's.

July 17, 2006

Argentina: What Went Wrong  By Colin M. MacLachlan.  Praeger.  April 2006.

Why has Argentina failed so spectacularly, both economically and politically? It is a puzzle because the country seemed to have all the requirements for greatness, including a well-established middle class of professionals. Its failure raises the specter that other middle-class societies could also fail. In Argentina, MacLachlan delivers history with a plot, a sense of direction and purpose, and fascinating conclusions that reveal a much more complex picture of Argentina than one might have had in mind prior to reading this book.

July 10, 2006

By Night in Chile  By Roberto Bolaño (Translated by Chris Andrews).  New Directions.  December 2003.

As through a crack in the wall, By Night in Chile's single night-long rant provides a terrifying, clandestine view of the strange bedfellows of Church and State in Chile. This wild, eerily compact novel—Roberto Bolaño's first work available in English—recounts the tale of a poor boy who wanted to be a poet, but ends up a half-hearted Jesuit priest and a conservative literary critic, a sort of lap dog to the rich and powerful cultural elite, in whose villas he encounters Pablo Neruda and Ernst Jünger.  Father Urrutia is offered a tour of Europe by agents of Opus Dei (to study "the disintegration of the churches," a journey into realms of the surreal); and ensnared by this plum, he is next assigned—after the destruction of Allende—the secret, never-to-be-disclosed job of teaching Pinochet, at night, all about Marxism, so the junta generals can know their enemy. Soon, searingly, his memories go from bad to worse. Heart-stopping and hypnotic, By Night in Chile marks the American debut of an astonishing writer. 

July 3, 2006

Being And Blackness in Latin America: Uprootedness And Improvisation  By Patricia D. Fox.  University of Florida Press.  April 2006.

Confronting cultural stereotypes about what it means to be Black in the Americas, Fox examines the dynamics of race by analyzing a wealth of popular and canonical texts from Latin America, in both Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking countries. She constructs an alternative to traditional slavery-based definitions, arguing that Blackness can be characterized by the condition of physical uprootedness, an experience that acts as an impetus to artistic expression.  Her provocative discussion applies literary and social theory to prose, poetry, film, and theater, including oral and musical forms as expressed in folklore and religion. Through careful clarification of terms and ample and illuminating examples, she paints a vision of Blackness that embodies strategic potential and embraces improvisation. 

June 26, 2006

Photography and Writing in Latin America : Double Exposures  Edited by Marcy E. Schwartz and Mary Beth Tierney-Tello.  University of New Mexico Press.  April 2006.

Photography came to Latin America early in its technological development and has proven an essential tool for documenting the region's physical spaces and encounters among varied cultures. Numerous Europeans experimented with the new medium as they traveled throughout Latin America. This is the first book to document the extensive collaboration between writers and photographers in Latin America from the Mexican Revolution through the twentieth century.  Divided into four parts, the first section includes essays that review the varied roles of photography in the context of Latin American violence. Section two discusses how collaborative projects have redefined conceptions of urban space in Latin America, including the urban explosion in Mexico City. Section three explores the integration of photographic images in novels, essays, and various forms of prose. Section four offers exclusive interviews with participants in collaborative works including photographers Sara Facio and Sebastiao Salgado, as well as cultural critics Nelly Richard and Elena Poniatowska. 

June 19, 2006

Capitalism, God, and a Good Cigar : Cuba Enters the Twenty-first Century  Edited by Lydia Chávez. Duke University Press.  June 2005.

When the Soviet Union dissolved, so did the easy credit, cheap oil, and subsidies it had provided to Cuba. The bottom fell out of the Cuban economy, and many expected that Castro’s revolution—the one that had inspired the left throughout Latin America and elsewhere—would soon be gone as well. More than a decade later, the revolution lives on, albeit in a modified form. Following the collapse of Soviet communism, Castro legalized the dollar, opened the island to tourism, and allowed foreign investment, small-scale private enterprise, and remittances from exiles in Miami. Capitalism, God, and a Good Cigar describes what the changes implemented since the early 1990s have meant for ordinary Cubans: for hotel workers, teachers, priests, factory workers, rap artists, writers, homemakers, and others.

Based on reporting by journalists, writers, and documentary filmmakers since 2001, the thirteen essays collected here each cover a particular dimension of contemporary Cuban society, revealing what it is like to have lived, for more than a decade, suspended between communism and capitalism. There are pieces on hip hop musicians, fiction writing and censorship, the state of ballet and the performing arts, and the role of computers and the Internet. Other essays address the shrinking yet still sizeable numbers of true believers in the promise of socialist revolution, the legendary cigar industry, the changing state of religion, the significance of the recent influx of money and people from Spain, and the tensions between recent Cuban emigrants and previous generations of exiles. Including more than seventy striking documentary photographs of Cuba’s people, countryside, and city streets, this richly illustrated collection offers keen, even-handed insights into the abundant ironies of life in Cuba today.

June 12, 2006

Tuning Out Blackness : Race and Nation in the History of Puerto Rican Television  By Yeidy M. Rivero. Duke University Press.  June 2005.

Tuning Out Blackness fills a glaring omission in U.S. and Latin American television studies by looking at the history of Puerto Rican television. In exploring the political and cultural dynamics that have shaped racial representations in Puerto Rico’s commercial media from the late 1940s to the 1990s, Yeidy M. Rivero advances critical discussions about race, ethnicity, and the media. She shows that televisual representations of race have belied the racial egalitarianism that allegedly pervades Puerto Rico’s national culture. White performers in blackface have often portrayed “blackness” in local television productions, while black actors have been largely excluded.

Drawing on interviews, participant observation, archival research, and textual analysis, Rivero considers representations of race in Puerto Rico, taking into account how they are intertwined with the island’s status as a U.S. commonwealth, its national culture, and its relationship with Cuba before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the massive influx of Cuban migrants after 1960. She focuses on locally produced radio and television shows, particular television events, and characters that became popular media icons—from performer Ramón Rivero’s use of blackface and “black” voice in the 1940s and 1950s to the battle between black actors and television industry officials over racism in the 1970s to the creation, in the 1990s, of the first Puerto Rican situation comedy featuring a black family. As the twentieth century drew to a close, multinational corporations had purchased all of Puerto Rico’s stations, and they threatened to wipe out locally produced programs. Tuning Out Blackness not only brings to the forefront the marginalization of non-white citizens in Puerto Rico’s media culture; it also raises important questions about the significance of local sites of television production.

June 5, 2006

Voices of Time : A Life in Stories  By Eduardo Galeano. Metropolitan Books.  May 2006.

In this kaleidoscope of reflections, renowned South American author Eduardo Galeano ranges widely, from childhood to love, music, plants, fear, indignity, and indignation. In the signal style of his bestselling and much-admired Memory of Fire trilogy—brief fragments that build steadily into an organic whole—Galeano offers a rich, wry history of his life and times that is both calmly philosophical and fiercely political.

Beginning with blue algae, the earliest of life forms, these 333 vignettes alight on the Galeano family’s immigration to Uruguay in the early twentieth century, the fate of love letters intercepted by a military dictatorship, abuses by the rich and powerful, the latest military outrages, and the author’s own encounters with all manner of living matter, including generals, bums, dissidents, soccer stars, ducks, and trees. Out of these meditations emerges neither anger nor bitterness, but a celebration of a blessed life in a harsh world.

May 29, 2006

Engendering Mayan History: Kaqchikel Women as Agents and Conduits of the Past, 1875-1970  By David Carey Jr..  Routledge.  October 2005.

Presenting Mayan history from the perspective of Mayan women--whose voices until now have not been documented--David Carey allows these women to present their worldviews in their native language, adding a rich layer to recent Latin American historiography, and increasing our comprehension of indigenous perspectives of the past.

Drawing on years of research among the Maya that specifically documents women's oral histories, Carey gives Mayan women a platform to discuss their views on education, migrant labor, work in the home, female leadership, and globalization. These oral histories present an ideal opportunity to understand indigenous women's approach to history, the apparent contradictions in gender roles in Mayan communities, and provide a distinct conceptual framework for analyzing Guatamalan, Mayan, and Latin American history.

May 22, 2006

RiovErotico  By Otto Stupakoff.  Regan Books.  February 2006.

This collection of vibrant new photographs is a testament to the eroticism of photographer Otto Stupakoff's native country, Brazil. A blend of cultures -- African, European, and Latino -- Stupakoff's Brazil is a land of tight, tanned flesh, vivid tropical flowers, dripping fruits, and, most of all, the youthful, relaxed sexuality of the people.

By capturing his subjects in moments of joyful sexual abandon, Stupakoff's photos strike a refreshing balance between the erotic and the playful. A former fashion photographer for magazines such as Vogue and Elle, Stupakoff takes an unstudied, almost voyeuristic approach to his subjects here. He incorporates both the posed and the unposed: in one frame, a beautiful girl on a train stares intently at the camera, while in another a man and a woman share a wild and naked embrace atop a rocky landscape. The result is a collection of images with the lush detail of a fashion layout, the intimacy of a Nan Goldin portrait, and the impression of everyday people photographed with journalistic verve.

Complete with poetry taken from Brazilian literature and popular culture, this visual narrative perfectly captures the spirit and allure of Rio -- the women, the men, the sexuality, the joy, and the beauty. It is more than just a book of photographs -- it is a love letter to Brazil. 

May 15, 2006

Not Working: Latina Immigrants, Low-wage Jobs, And the Failure of Welfare Reform  By Alejandra Marchevsky and Jeanne Theoharis.  NYU Press.  April 2006.

Not Working chronicles the devastating effects of the 1996 welfare reform legislation that ended welfare as we know it. For those who now receive public assistance, "work" means pleading with supervisors for full-time hours, juggling ever-changing work schedules, and shuffling between dead-end jobs that leave one physically and psychically exhausted.

Through vivid story-telling and pointed analysis, Not Working profiles the day-to-day struggles of Mexican immigrant women in the Los Angeles area, showing the increased vulnerability they face in the welfare office and labor market. The new "work first" policies now enacted impose time limits and mandate work requirements for those receiving public assistance, yet fail to offer real job training or needed childcare options, ultimately causing many families to fall deeper below the poverty line.  Not Working shows that the new "welfare-to-work" regime has produced tremendous instability and insecurity for these women and their children. Moreover, the authors argue that the new politics of welfare enable greater infringements of rights and liberty for many of America's most vulnerable and constitute a crucial component of the broader assault on American citizenship. In short, the new welfare is not working.

May 8, 2006

Argentina: What Went Wrong  By Colin M. MacLachlan.  Praeger Publishers.  April 2006.

Why has Argentina failed so spectacularly, both economically and politically? It is a puzzle because the country seemed to have all the requirements for greatness, including a well-established middle class of professionals. Its failure raises the specter that other middle-class societies could also fail. In Argentina, MacLachlan delivers history with a plot, a sense of direction and purpose, and fascinating conclusions that reveal a much more complex picture of Argentina than one might have had in mind prior to reading this book.

May 1, 2006

The Origins of the Cuban Revolution Reconsidered  By Samuel Farber.  University of North Carolina Press.  March 2006.

Analyzing the crucial period of the Cuban Revolution from 1959 to 1961, Samuel Farber challenges dominant scholarly and popular views of the revolution's sources, shape, and historical trajectory. Unlike many observers, who treat Cuba's revolutionary leaders as having merely reacted to U.S. policies or domestic socioeconomic conditions, Farber shows that revolutionary leaders, while acting under serious constraints, were nevertheless autonomous agents pursuing their own independent ideological visions, although not necessarily according to a master plan.  Exploring how historical conflicts between U.S. and Cuban interests colored the reactions of both nations' leaders after the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista, Farber argues that the structure of Cuba's economy and politics in the first half of the twentieth century made the island ripe for radical social and economic change, and the ascendant Soviet Union was on hand to provide early assistance. 

April 24, 2006

Finding Mañana : A Memoir of a Cuban Exodus  By Mirta Ojito.  Penguin.  April 2006.

In this unforgettable memoir, Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Mirta Ojito travels back twenty-five years to the event that brought her and 125,000 of her fellow Cubans to America: the 1980 mass exodus known as the Mariel boatlift. As she tracks down the long-forgotten individuals whose singular actions that year profoundly affected thousands on both sides of the Florida straits, she offers a mesmerizing glimpse behind Cuba’s iron curtain—and recalls the reality of being a sixteen-year-old torn between her family’s thirst for freedom and a revolution that demanded absolute loyalty.

April 17, 2006

Salsa and Its Transnational Moves  By Sheenagh Pietrobruno.  Lexington Books. March 2006.

This splendid book captures salsa dancing as both a global phenomenon, carried throughout the world by migrants and media technologies, and as a local practice, rooted deeply in the distinct cultures of different cities. Pietrobruno deftly combines rich ethnographic observation with a well-researched account of salsa's origins, development and ongoing transformations. The book moves towards a compelling engagement with dance's place in a world of digital communications and within what Pietrobruno calls 'virtual migrations.'  This is a genuinely interdisciplinary book, one which will interest scholars of dance, diasporic cultural practice, media and popular music.

April 10, 2006

Remembering Maternal Bodies : Melancholy in Latina and Latin American Women's Writing  By Benigno Trino.  Palgrave Macmillan. January 2006.

Remembering Maternal Bodies is a collection of essays about the writings of several Latina and Latin American women writers who remember their mothers, and/or challenge our commonly held beliefs about motherhood and maternity, in an effort to stop depression and melancholy. It suggests that the widespread violent depression and sometimes suicidal melancholy that haunts our culture and society is the result of a terrible fantasy about the way we become ourselves. This fantasy has a matricide at its core, and this matricide will continue to have its depressing effect on us as long as it remains in place and invisible. The authors showcased in this book make visible this fantasy and change it in their works in an effort to bring us out of our depression and melancholy.

April 3, 2006

The Shock of Modernity: Criminal Photography from Mexico  By Jesse Lerner.  Turner. March 2006.

Agustán Victor Casasola and his brother Miguel were photojournalists until the foreign press corps arrived to cover the Mexican revolution in 1911, when they formed an agency that eventually compiled more than a million images. The Shock of Modernity collects a careful selection of work from the Casasolasí criminological archive, now property of the Fototeca of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Pachuca, Hidalgo. Collectively these images--which include scenes of crimes, reconstructions of crimes, and documentation of evidence and police procedures--offer a cutaway view of society over the course of the first half of the twentieth century.

March 27, 2006

Latin America's Political Economy of the Possible : Beyond Good Revolutionaries and Free-Marketeers  By Javier Santiso.  MIT Press. March 2006.

Neither socialism nor free-market neoliberalism has been a very helpful model for Latin America, writes Javier Santiso in this witty and literate reading of that region's economic and political condition. Latin America must move beyond utopian schemes and rigid ideologies invented in other hemispheres and acknowledge its own social realities of inequality and poverty. And today some countries--notably Chile and Brazil, but also Mexico and Colombia--are doing just that: abandoning the economic "magic realism" that plots miraculous but impossible solutions and forging instead a pragmatic path of gradual reform. Many Latin American leaders are adopting an approach combining monetary and fiscal orthodoxies with progressive social policies. This, says Santiso, is "the silent arrival of the political economy of the possible," which offers hope to a region exhausted by economic reform programs entailing macroeconomic shocks and countershocks.

Santiso describes the creation in Chile and Brazil of institutions and policies that are connected to social realities rather than to theories found in economics textbooks. Mexico too has created its own fiscal and monetary policies and institutions, and it has the additional benefit of being a party to NAFTA. Santiso outlines the development strategies unfolding in Latin America, from Chile and Brazil to Colombia and Uruguay, strategies anchored externally by treaties and trade agreements and internally by strong fiscal and monetary institutions and policies. And he charts the less successful trajectories of Argentina, Venezuela, and Bolivia, which are still in thrall to utopian but impossible miracle cures.

March 6, 2006

Next Year in Cuba: A Cubano's Coming-of-age in America  By Gustavo Pérez Firmat.  Arte Publico Press.  December 2005.

Growing up in the Dade County school system, and graduating from college in Florida, Pérez Firmat was insulated from America by the nurturing sights and sounds of Little Havana. It wasn't until he left home to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan that he realized, as the Cuba of his birth receded farther into the past, that he had become no longer wholly Cubano, but increasingly a man of two heritage's and two countries.  In a searing memoir of a family torn apart by exile, Pérez Firmat chronicles the painful search for roots that has come to dominate his adult life. Now married to an American woman, and a father to two children who are Cuban in name only, Pérez Firmat has finally come to acknowledge his need to celebrate his love of Cuba, while embracing the America he has come to love.

February 27, 2006

The Development of Mexico's Tourism Industry : Pyramids by Day, Martinis by Night  By Dina Berger.  Palgrave Macmillan.  March 2006.

Today, tourism is one of Mexico's most successful revolutionary projects that played a decisive role in the making of that modern nation. From the industry's birth in 1928 to its boom in 1946, government officials and private entrepreneurs coalesced around tourism to study, develop, and promote it as a development strategy that fulfilled revolutionary goals. Through savvy promotional campaigns that professed goodwill and showcased the modern (martinis) and the traditional (pyramids), tourist boosters refashioned their nation's image from an unruly to a good neighbor successfully attracting U.S. tourists. This pioneering study demystifies the emergence of modern tourism and demonstrates how tourist boosters capitalized on broader shifts in U.S.-Mexican relations.

February 13, 2006

Law in a Lawless Land : Diary of a Limpieza in Colombia  By Michael Taussig.  University of Chicago Press.  November 2005.

Law in a Lawless Land offers a rare and penetrating insight into the nature of Colombia's present peril. In a nuanced account of the human consequences of a disintegrating state, anthropologist Michael Taussig chronicles two weeks in a small town in Colombia's Cauca Valley taken over by paramilitaries that brazenly assassinate adolescent gang members. Armed with automatic weapons and computer-generated lists of names and photographs, the paramilitaries have the tacit support of the police and even many of the desperate townspeople, who are seeking any solution to the crushing uncertainty of violence in their lives. Concentrating on everyday experience, Taussig forces readers to confront a kind of terror to which they have become numb and complacent.

February 6, 2006

Social Movements and Free-Market Capitalism in Latin America: Telecommunications Privatization and the Rise of Consumer Protest  By Sybil Rhodes.  SUNY Press.  November 2005.

This innovative book examines how the privatization and reregulation of the telecommunications sectors in Chile, Argentina, and Brazil in the 1980s and 1990s provoked the rise of new consumer protest movements in Latin America. Sybil Rhodes looks at how hasty privatization of state-owned telephone companies led to short-term economic windfalls for multinational corporations but long-term instability due to consumer movements or the threat of them. Eventually these governments implemented consumer-friendly regulation as a belated form of damage control. In contrast, governments that privatized through more gradual, democratic processes were able to make credible commitments to their citizens as well as to their multinational investors by including regulatory regimes with consumer protection mechanisms built in. Rhodes illustrates how consumers—previously unacknowledged actors in studies of social movements, market reforms, and democratizations in and beyond Latin America—are indispensable to understanding the political and social implications of these broad global trends.

January 30, 2006

The State on the Streets: Police and Politics in Argentina and Brazil  By Mercedes Hinton.  Lynne Rienner Pub.  January 2006.

How Latin American governments will respond to popular outcry against unprecedented levels of both corruption and crime ranks among the principal political questions of this decade. The State on the Streets focuses on the tense interplay of police, democracy, state, and civil society in the region, using the cases of Argentina and Brazil as a lens.  Mercedes Hinton draws on her rare access to a wide spectrum of actors in the two countries—including top police officials and street patrolmen, military officers and legislators, clergy and prostitutes, business owners and shantytown residents—to present a vivid account of politics on the ground. Her in-depth comparative analysis reveals surprising parallels in the reform patterns adopted in Argentina and Brazil in the past decade, supporting conclusions that carry disturbing implications for the prospects for democratic consolidation in Latin America as a whole.

January 23, 2006

The Unpast : Elite Violence and Social Control in Brazil, 1954-2000  By R.S. Rose.  Ohio University Press.  February 2006.

The Unpast: Elite Violence and Social Control in Brazil, 1954?2000 documents that the brutal methods used on plantations led directly to the phenomenon of Brazilian death squads.The Unpast examines how and why, after the abolition of slavery, elites in Brazil imported new methods to kill, torture, or disfigure dissidents and the poor to maintain dominance. Bringing a critical-historical analysis to events following the 1954 suicide of President Getulio Vargas, R.S. Rose ltakes the reader along a fifty-year path that shaped a nation's morals. He covers the misunderstood presidency of Joao Goulart; the overthrow of his government by a U.S. assisted military; the appalling dictatorship that followed; the efforts to rid the countryside of troublemakers; and the ongoing attempt to cleanse the urban environment of the needy?an endeavor that produced 32,675 victims in just two Brazilian states. The Unpast is the largest and most comprehensive study of suspected death-squad victims ever undertaken. It concludes with the sobering observation that nothing has really changed in present-day Brazil since the end of slavery in 1888.

January 16, 2006

Latin America : A New Interpretation  By Laurence Whitehead.  Palgrave MacMillan.  January 2006.

This innovative contribution to comparative area studies evaluates Latin America's distinctiveness, and shows how 'large regions' can be compared. The overwhelming impact of Europe followed by precocious independence produced an exceptional outward orientation, which has prompted successive waves of reform 'from above and without', often resisted and superceded rather than fully assimilated.  This book explores the resulting patterns that can be observed in multiple domains, through the optic of a 'mausoleum of modernity.' By applying this perspective to state organization, the politics of expertise, privatization, poverty and inequality, and citizenship insecurity, it generates an overall new interpretation of Latin America's regional distinctiveness.

January 9, 2006

The Battle of Venezuela  By Michael McCaughan.  Seven Stories Press.  June 2005.

In August 2004, the Venezuelan public came out in record numbers to deliver an overwhelming vote of confidence. After many attempts to unseat him, Hugo Chavez, the former military man who took the country first by coup and then by ballot, again emerged as the people's choice. It was, in his words, "a victory for the people of Venezuela."  Yet despite Chavez's successes, having defended his post in six referendums, two elections and against one failed coup, Venezuela-one of the world's largest oil-exporting countries-is a nation deeply divided. The power struggle between the country's first indigenous head of state and his detractors expresses a larger conflict gripping the region.  In The Battle of Venezuela, Guardian reporter Michael McCaughan captures the drama of challenges to Chavez's presidency and on the streets of Caracas. In this detailed analysis of the political forces at work, McCaughan documents the role of the country's powerful and shrinking middle class, the effects of Chavez's social programs for his mainly poor constituents and the rise of the social movement whose members proclaim themselves "Chavistas."

December 19, 2005

Bodies and Souls : The Tragic Plight of Three Jewish Women Forced into Prostitution in the Americas  By Isabel Vincent.  William Morris.  November 2005.

Sophia Chamys, Rachel Liberman, Rebecca Freedman. Young and poor, these Jewish women and thousands of others like them were sold or duped into slavery, forced to become prostitutes by the Zwi Migdal, a notorious criminal gang comprised entirely of Jewish mobsters.  From the late 1860s until the beginning of World War II in 1939, the women left behind the grinding poverty and anti-Semitism of Eastern Europe's teeming urban ghettos and rural shtetls to find themselves working in brothels in South America, Latin America, South Africa, India, and New York.  Though these women were forced into this terrible life, the Jewish community deemed them unclean and refused to accept them. Barred from synagogues and shunned by their coreligionists, they were also forbidden from partaking in the sacred Jewish burial ritual. Eventually they formed The Society of Truth, a religious order of love, honor to God, and faith in one another that established women-only synagogues, kosher kitchens, and cemeteries.

December 12, 2005

Bitter Fruit : The Story of the American Coup in Guatemala  By Stephen Schlesinger and Stephen Kinzer.  Harvard University David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.  October 2005.

Bitter Fruit is a comprehensive and insightful account of the CIA operation to overthrow the democratically elected government of Jacobo Arbenz of Guatemala in 1954. First published in 1982, this book has become a classic, a textbook case of the relationship between the United States and the Third World. The authors make extensive use of U.S. government documents and interviews with former CIA and other officials. It is a warning of what happens when the United States abuses its power.

December 5, 2005

Political (In)justice: Authoritarianism And the Rule of Law in Brazil, Chile, And Argentina  By Anthony W. Pereira.  University of Pittsburgh Press.  October 2005.

Why do attempts by authoritarian regimes to legalize their political repression differ so dramatically? Why do some dispense with the law altogether, while others scrupulously modify constitutions, pass new laws, and organize political trials? Political (In)Justice answers these questions by comparing the legal aspects of political repression in three recent military regimes: Brazil (1964-1985); Chile (1973-1990); and Argentina (1976-1983).  By focusing on political trials as a reflection of each regime's overall approach to the law, Anthony Pereira argues that the practice of each regime can be explained by examining the long-term relationship between the judiciary and the military. Brazil was marked by a high degree of judicial-military integration and cooperation; Chile's military essentially usurped judicial authority; and in Argentina, the military negated the judiciary altogether. Pereira extends the judicial-military framework to other authoritarian regimes--Salazar's Portugal, Hitler's Germany, and Franco's Spain--and a democracy (the United States), to illuminate historical and contemporary aspects of state coercion and the rule of law.

November 14th, 2005

AIDS in Latin America  By Tom Frasca.  Palgrave Macmillan.  September 2005.

“Tim Frasca’s Aids in Latin America speaks from the voice of those affected, and is presented by a journalist who was able to penetrate diverse social groups and tell their compelling stories. It is an important contribution to the better understanding of the different perspectives and realities that will make joint collaborative work possible and reign in this dramatic disease."--Mirta Rosas, Director, Pan American Health Organization

November 7th, 2005

Feminism, Nation And Myth: La Malinche  Edited by Rolando Romero and Amanda Nolacea Harris.  Arte Publico Press.  September 2005.

Feminism, Nation and Myth explores the scholarship of La Malinche, the indigenous woman who is said to have led Cortés and his troops to the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán. The figure of La Malinche has generated intense debate among literature and cultural studies scholars. Drawing from the humanities and the social sciences, feminist studies, queer studies, Chicana/o studies, and Latina/o studies, critics and theorists in this volume analyze the interaction and interdependence of race, class, and gender.  Studies of La Malinche demand that scholars disassemble and reconstruct concepts of nation, community, agency, subjectivity, and social activism. This volume originated in the 1999 "U.S. Latina/Latino Perspectives on la Malinche" conference that brought together scholars from across the nation. Filmmaker Dan Banda interviewed many of the presenters for his documentary, Indigenous Always: The Legend of La Malinche and the Conquest of Mexico.

October 31st, 2005

Borges and the Eternal Orangutans  By Luis Fernando Verissimo .  New Directions.  May 2005.

Vogelstein is a loner who has always lived among books. Suddenly, fate grabs hold of his insignificant life and carries him off to Buenos Aires, to a conference on Edgar Allan Poe, the inventor of the modern detective story. There Vogelstein meets his idol, Jorge Luis Borges, and for reasons that a mere passion for literature cannot explain, he finds himself at the center of a murder investigation that involves arcane demons, the mysteries of the Kaballah, the possible destruction of the world, and the Elizabethan magus John Dee's theory of the "Eternal Orangutan," which, given all the time in the world, would end up writing all the known books in the cosmos.

October 17th, 2005

Fluid Borders : Latino Power, Identity, and Politics in Los Angeles  By Lisa Garcia Bedolla .  University of California Press October 2005.

This provocative study of the Latino political experience offers a nuanced, in-depth, and often surprising perspective on the factors affecting the political engagement of a segment of the population that is now the nation's largest minority. Drawing from one hundred in-depth interviews, Lisa Garcia Bedolla compares the political attitudes and behavior of Latinos in two communities: working-class East Los Angeles and middle-class Montebello. Asking how collective identity and social context have affected political socialization, political attitudes and practices, and levels of political participation among the foreign born and native born, she offers new findings that are often at odds with the conventional wisdom emphasizing the role socioeconomic status plays in political involvement.

Fluid Borders includes the voices of many individuals, offers exciting new research on Latina women indicating that they are more likely than men to vote and to participate in political activities, and considers how the experience of social stigma affects the collective identification and political engagement of members of marginal groups. This innovative study points the way toward a better understanding of the Latino political experience, and how it differs from that of other racial groups, by situating it at the intersection of power, collective identity, and place.

October 10th, 2005

Greasers And Gringos: Latinos, Law, And the American Imagination  By Steven W. Bender.  NYU Pres October 2005.

Although the origin of the term "greaser" is debated, its derogatory meaning never has been. From silent movies like The Greaser's Revenge (1914) and The Girl and the Greaser (1913) with villainous title characters, to John Steinbeck's portrayals of Latinos as lazy, drunken, and shiftless in his 1935 novel Tortilla Flat, to the image of violent, criminal, drug-using gang members of East LA, negative stereotypes of Latinos/as have been plentiful in American popular culture far before Latinos/as became the most populous minority group in the U.S.

In Greasers and Gringos, Steven W. Bender examines and surveys these stereotypes and their evolution, paying close attention to the role of mass media in their perpetuation. Focusing on the intersection between stereotypes and the law, Bender reveals how these negative images have contributed significantly to the often unfair treatment of Latino/as under American law by the American legal system. He looks at the way demeaning constructions of Latinos/as influence their legal treatment by police, prosecutors, juries, teachers, voters, and vigilantes. He also shows how, by internalizing negative social images, Latinos/as and other subordinated groups view themselves and each other as inferior.

October 3rd, 2005

Truth, Torture, and the American Way : The History and Consequences of U.S. Involvement in Torture  By Jennifer K. Harbury.  Beacon Press.  September 2005.

When torture photos from Abu Ghraib became public in spring 2004, Americans reacted with revulsion: how could our military commit such horrible acts? In fact, Harbury's well-documented volume reveals, American representatives abroad have been involved in torture for decades, much of it in Central America, where U.S. agents apparently encouraged the kidnapping, maltreatment and murder of left-wing fighters and their suspected sympathizers. Harbury's own husband became one of the Guatemalan victims-she described his fate in Searching for Everardo-and this new volume alludes to his story repeatedly. Its central chapter compiles testimony from Latin American torture survivors, making a case for U.S. involvement in "torture by proxy." Harbury accompanies her evidence with passionate if unsurprising denunciations, calling torture not just inhumane and illegal but ineffective: since tortured suspects confess to anything, she says, their statements may be worth nothing.

September 26th, 2005

Unseen Colombia  By Andres Hurtado Garcia.  Villegas Editores.

Geography is a mirror: every nation sees itself in its natural places. Here are a naturalist-photographer's most beautiful faces: These are Andrés Hurtado Garcia's best images of a half-century of looking intensely at the land that is Colombia; a wilderness tour that includes close photographic details like cryptic aboriginal hyeroglyphics on giant rocks as well as sweeping views of the alta montana. Hurtado is a South American Edward Weston, a self-taught, nomadic photographer. Here are the most exciting places he has discovered in decades of wandering: hidden beaches, remote lakes, and unnamed volcanic craters; the little-explored rivers of the Amazon; seductive landscapes of the Orinico. Naturalists and travelers will discover here a South America only Hurtado knows intimately: photographs that capture all the seductive landscapes of Colombia

September 19th, 2005

Lula and the Workers Party in Brazil  By Sue Branford and Bernardo Kucinski.  New Press, July 2005.

"Look, my friend. I don't speak the language here, I've got no money, the food stinks, there's no rice, no beans. I'd rather be arrested in Brazil than stay in this dump of a country." —Lula, the new Brazilian president, on being advised to stay in the United States after his brother's arrest for political activity in Brazil, 1975

In October 2002, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made history when he became Latin America's first democratically elected socialist leader since Salvador Allende. Lula and his Workers Party won comfortably with nearly 62 percent of Brazil's popular vote. This book tells the story of the Workers Party's origins and electoral history, outlining the key politicians behind it and the riveting story of their four successive tries for power.  With unparalleled access to Lula over the first two years of his administration, the authors have updated the book to include an analysis of his early attempts at social reform, his growing leadership on the international stage, and his response to charges of abandoning the Left of his own party and the hopes of his staunchest supporters.

September 12th, 2005

Latino Culture: A Dynamic Force In The Changing American Workplace  By Nilda Chong and Francia Baez.  Intercultural Press, June 2005.

In 2003, Latinos became the largest minority group in the United States and according to the Census Bureau they will represent close to 25 percent of the population by 2050.  Chong and Baez provide valuable insights into key aspects of Latino Culture, such as: 
-Latino values: personalismo, simpatia, respeto and more 
-Communication styles, personal distance, self-disclosure, disagreements 
-Gender issues in the workplace: machismo, marianismo and paternalism 
-Relationship to supervisors, to coworkers and to employees 
-The issue of speaking Spanish at work 
-Striking differences in behavior and experience between generations

September 5th, 2005

Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation  Edited by Sandra Berman and Michael Wood.  Princeton University Press, June 2005.

In recent years, scholarship on translation has moved well beyond the technicalities of converting one language into another and beyond conventional translation theory. With new technologies blurring distinctions between "the original" and its reproductions, and with globalization redefining national and cultural boundaries, "translation" is now emerging as a reformulated subject of lively, interdisciplinary debate. Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation enters the heart of this debate. It covers an exceptional range of topics, from simultaneous translation to legal theory, from the language of exile to the language of new nations, from the press to the cinema; and cultures and languages from contemporary Bengal to ancient Japan, from translations of Homer to the work of Don DeLillo.

August 29th, 2005

Private Topographies : Space, Subjectivity and Political Change in Modern Latin America  By Marzena Grzegorczyk.  Palgrave Macmillan, April 2005.

In Private Topographies, Grzegorczyk identifies and analyzes the types of postcolonial subjectivity prevalent among the Creole (Euro-American) ruling classes in post-independence, nineteenth-century century Latin America as articulated through their relation to their surroundings. Exactly how did creole elites change their self-conception in the wake of independence? In what ways and why did they feel compelled to restructure their personal space? What contradictions did they respond to? Where and how were the boundaries between public and private constructed? How were the categories of race and gender relevant to this process? For the first time, this book links together political transitions (the end of the colonial period in Latin America) with "implacements"--attempts that people make to reorganize the space around them. By looking at cartographies of states and regions, the structure of towns, and appearance and lay-out of homes in literature from Mexico, Argentina and Brazil from this nineteenth century period of transition, Grzegorczyk sheds new light on the ways a culture remakes itself and the mechanisms through which subjectivities shift during periods of political change.

August 22nd, 2005

The Puerto Rican Diaspora: Historical Perspectives  Edited Carmen Teresa Whalen and Víctor Vazquez-Hernandez.  Temple University Press, July 2005.

Puerto Ricans have a long history of migrating to and building communities in various parts of the United States in search of a better life. From their arrival in Hawai'i in 1900 to the post-World War II era—during which communities flourished throughout the Midwest and New England—the Puerto Rican diaspora has been growing steadily. In fact, the 2000 census shows that almost as many Puerto Ricans live in the United States as in Puerto Rico itself.

The contributors to this volume provide an overview of the Puerto Rican experience in America, delving into particular aspects of colonization and citizenship, migration and community building. Each chapter bridges the historical past with contemporary issues. Throughout the text, personal narratives and photographs bring these histories to life, while grappling with underlying causes and critical issues such as racism and employment that shape Puerto Rican life in America.

August 15th, 2005

Erotic Journeys : Mexican Immigrants and Their Sex Lives  By Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez.  University of California Press, July 2005.

Erotic Journeys is a fascinating, revealing, and respectful examination of the romantic relationships and sex lives of the fastest-growing minority group in the nation. In a series of in-depth interviews, Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez investigates the ways in which sixty heterosexual Mexican women and men living in Los Angeles reinvent their sex lives as part of their immigration and settlement experiences. Defying a broad spectrum of preconceived notions, these immigrants confirm in their vivid narratives that sexuality--far from being culturally determined--is fluid and complex.

Gonzalez-Lopez explains that these Mexicans enter the United States with particular sexual ideologies and practices that, while diverse, are regulated by family ethics and regional patriarchies. After migration, a range of factors--including employment, the risks and dangers of resettlement, social networking with other immigrants, and the new demands of a fast-paced industrialized metropolis--begin to transform the immigrants' intimate lives in deep and unexpected ways. The remarkably candid interviews show that these men and women are skillful negotiating agents of their own sexuality.

August 8th, 2005

Kiss and Tango : Looking for Love in Buenos Aires  By Marina Palmer.  William Morrow, May 2005.

Approaching her dreaded thirtieth birthday -- without a doting husband, a fabulous apartment, or children and a nanny -- Marina Palmer suddenly found herself adrift in anxiety. She was a successful advertising executive but was bored by her job. Lasting love was proving elusive and her weekly visit to the therapist had multiplied by three. Then, on a whimsical vacation to South America, Palmer discovered the passion that her life was missing. At a steamy two a.m. milonga, she caught her first glimpse of Argentina's signature dance and fell head over heels from the sidelines.

Leaving behind her fast-track career and her desperation to meet "the One," Palmer returned to Buenos Aires to pursue a new dream. Moving thousands of miles from friends and family, she arrived in Argentina seeking a dancing partner, storybook love, and the tango lessons that might ultimately help her earn a place on the professional circuit. Exploring her new city by day and seducing sexy Argentines on the dance floor by night, her tango obsession ruled her life. She'd never been thinner -- tango is the world's most erotic weight-loss plan! -- more confident, or closer to her definition of having it all.  From auditioning for the Broadway hit Forever Tango, to becoming a street dancer on the infamous calle Florida, to discovering just how irresistible the sizzling porteños can be, Marina Palmer chronicles her exhilarating misadventures in Buenos Aires in no-holds-barred diary-style confessions full of adventure, romance, heartbreak, and steamy sex.

August 1st, 2005

The Profits of Extermination: How U.S. Corporate Power is Destroying Colombia  By Francisco Ramirez Cuellar, Aviva Chomsky, Javier Giraldo.  Riverhead, April 2005.

The Profits of Extermination uncovers the costs of foreign investment, privatization and neo-liberalism in Colombia. US corporations have manipulated the law and worked hand in hand with right-wing death squads and the US government to ensure profits at the cost of the rights and lives of workers, peasants and miners.

Colombia is the third-largest recipient of US military aid. According to this study by Chomsky and the Colombian mineworkers union, both US military aid and human rights violations are disproportionately concentrated in Colombia's lucrative mining and energy zones, where large foreign corporations use military and paramilitary forces to secure their investments.

July 25th, 2005

Translation Nation  By Héctor Tobar.  Riverhead, April 2005.

Tobar begins on familiar terrain, in his native Los Angeles, with his family's story, along with that of two brothers of Mexican origin with very different interpretations of Americanismo, or American identity as seen through a Latin American lens-one headed for U.S. citizenship and the other for the wrong side of the law and the south side of the border. But this is just a jumping-off point. Soon we are in Dalton, Georgia, the most Spanish-speaking town in the Deep South, and in Rupert, Idaho, where the most popular radio DJ is known as "El Chupacabras." By the end of the book, we have traveled from the geographical extremes into the heartland, exploring the familiar complexities of Cuban Miami and the brand-new ones of a busy Omaha INS station.

July 18th, 2005

Zorro : A Novel  By Isabel Allende.  Harper Collins.  May 2005.

Born in southern California late in the eighteenth century, he is a child of two worlds. Diego de la Vega's father is an aristocratic Spanish military man turned landowner; his mother, a Shoshone warrior. Diego learns from his maternal grandmother, White Owl, the ways of her tribe while receiving from his father lessons in the art of fencing and in cattle branding. It is here, during Diego's childhood, filled with mischief and adventure, that he witnesses the brutal injustices dealt Native Americans by European settlers and first feels the inner conflict of his heritage.

At the age of sixteen, Diego is sent to Barcelona for a European education. In a country chafing under the corruption of Napoleonic rule, Diego follows the example of his celebrated fencing master and joins La Justicia, a secret underground resistance movement devoted to helping the powerless and the poor. With this tumultuous period as a backdrop, Diego falls in love, saves the persecuted, and confronts for the first time a great rival who emerges from the world of privilege.  Between California and Barcelona, the New World and the Old, the persona of Zorro is formed, a great hero is born, and the legend begins. After many adventures -- duels at dawn, fierce battles with pirates at sea, and impossible rescues -- Diego de la Vega, a.k.a. Zorro, returns to America to reclaim the hacienda on which he was raised and to seek justice for all who cannot fight for it themselves.

July 11th, 2005

Fujimori's Peru: Deception In The Public Sphere  By Catherine M. Conaghan.  University of Pittsburgh Press.  June 2005.

Alberto Fujimori ascended to the presidency of Peru in 1990, boldly promising to remake the country. Ten years later, he hastily sent his resignation from exile in Japan, leaving behind a trail of lies, deceit, and corruption. Prosecutors, judges, and congressional investigators assembled to piece together the story of Fujimori's presidency, and what they found was evidence of a vast criminal conspiracy fueled by political ambition and personal greed. In Fujimori's Peru, Catherine Conaghan tells the story of one of the most controversial presidencies in Latin American history.

At a time when democracy was sweeping the Western Hemisphere, and military coups d'état were no longer considered acceptable, the Fujimori regime managed to maintain a facade of democracy while systematically eviscerating democratic institutions and the rule of law. The rolling tanks and heavy-handed tactics of the traditional coup were replaced by legal subterfuge, intimidation, and outright bribery.

The architect of this strategy was Fujimori's notorious intelligence adviser, Vladimiro Montesinos, an attorney with longstanding connections to Peru's underworld, its secret service, and the CIA. Using the tools of deception, Fujimori and Montesinos managed to gain seemingly foolproof control over the political system while maintaining domestic and international support. With great skill, they created the appearance of a democratic public sphere but ensured it would not work properly. The independent press was allowed to operate, and public opinion was a constant obsession. But behind the scenes, Montesinos paid off everyone who mattered--legislators, judges, bureaucrats, businessmen, executives, and entertainers. The more government officials tampered with what was supposed to be the free flow of ideas, however, the more they inadvertently exposed the ills they were trying to cover up. And that would prove to be their downfall. 

July 4th, 2005

Tuning Out Blackness: Race And Nation In The History Of Puerto Rican Television  By Yeidy M. Rivero.  Duke University Press.  July 2005.

Tuning Out Blackness fills a glaring omission in U.S. and Latin American television studies by looking at the history of Puerto Rican television. In exploring the political and cultural dynamics that have shaped racial representations in Puerto Rico’s commercial media from the late 1940s to the 1990s, Yeidy M. Rivero advances critical discussions about race, ethnicity, and the media. She shows that televisual representations of race have belied the racial egalitarianism that allegedly pervades Puerto Rico’s national culture. White performers in blackface have often portrayed "blackness" in local television productions, while black actors have been largely excluded.

Drawing on interviews, participant observation, archival research, and textual analysis, Rivero considers representations of race in Puerto Rico, taking into account how they are intertwined with the island’s status as a U.S. commonwealth, its national culture, its relationship with Cuba before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the massive influx of Cuban migrants after 1960. She focuses on locally produced radio and television shows, particular television events, and characters that became popular media icons—from the performer Ramón Rivero’s use of blackface and "black" voice in the 1940s and 1950s, to the battle between black actors and television industry officials over racism in the 1970s, to the creation, in the 1990s, of the first Puerto Rican situation comedy featuring a black family. As the twentieth century drew to a close, multinational corporations had purchased all Puerto Rican stations and threatened to wipe out locally produced programs. Tuning Out Blackness brings to the forefront the marginalization of nonwhite citizens in Puerto Rico’s media culture and raises important questions about the significance of local sites of television production.

June 27th, 2005

Rio de Janeiro: A City On Fire  By Ruy Castro.  Bloomsbury Publishing.  August 2004.

While poets flirted with prim young ladies in coffehouses during the belle epoque, revolts were being plotted that almost destroyed the city. We learn how the iconic wave-patterned mosaics of Copacabana pavements were baptized with blood, and how more than a hundred years before the girl from Ipanema passed by, the girls from Ouvidor Street adopted French chic, and never gave it up. From what is arguably the most breathtakingly beautiful city in the world, the people of Rio - the Cariocas - tell their stories: of cannibals charming European intellectuals; of elegant slaves and their shabby masters; of how a casual chat between two people drinking coffee on Avenida Rio Branco could affect world coffee markets; of an awe-inspiring beach life; of favelas, drugs, police, carnival, football, and music.

June 20th, 2005

The Dispossessed : Chronicles of the Desterrados of Colombia  By Alfredo Molano.  Haymarket Books.  April 2005.

Here in their own words are the stories of the desterrados, or "dispossessed"-the thousands of Colombians displaced by years of war and state-backed terrorism, funded in part through US aid to the Colombian government.  The people whose stories Molano tells are not social activists. They do not provide political or structural explanations of their lives; they do not tell stories of coming to consciousness. Yet, together, their stories add up to a powerful analysis of today's Colombia and should indeed inspire US readers to challenge the US policies that continue to kill, impoverish and displace the people of Colombia.

June 13th, 2005

Making Indigenous Citizens: Identities, Education, and Multicultural Development in Peru  By Maria Elena García.  Stanford University Press.  March 2005.

Set against conventional views of Peru as a place where indigenous mobilization has been absent, this book examines the complex, contentious politics between intercultural activists, local Andean indigenous community members, state officials, non-governmental organizations, and transnationally-educated indigenous intellectuals.  It examines the paradoxes and possibilities of Quechua community protests against intercultural bilingual education, official multicultural policies implemented by state and non-state actors, and the training of "authentic" indigenous leaders far from their home communities.  Focusing on important local sites of transnational connections, especially in the highland communities of Cuzco, and an international academic institute for the study of intercultural bilingual education, this book shows how contemporary indigenous politics are inextricably and simultaneously local and global. In exploring some of the seeming contradictions of Peruvian indigenous politics, "Making Indigenous Citizens" suggests that indigenous movements and citizenship are articulated in extraordinary but under-explored ways in Latin America and beyond.

June 6th, 2005

Mexican Masked Wrestler And The Monster Filmography  By Robert Michael "Bobb" Cotter.  McFarland & Company.  April 2005.

This filmography features some of the oddest cinematic showdowns ever concocted—Mexican masked wrestlers battling monsters, evil geniuses and other ne’er-do-wells, be it in caves, cobwebbed castles or in the ring. From the 1950s to the 1970s, these movies were staples of Mexican cinema, combining action, horror, sex, science fiction and comedy into a bizarre amalgam aimed to please the whole family. Chapters examine the roots of the phenomenon, including the hugely popular masked wrestling scene and the classic Universal horror films from which Mexican filmmakers stole without compunction. Subsequent chapters focus on El Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Mascaras, the three most prominent masked wrestlers; wrestling women; other less prominent masked wrestlers; and the insane mish-mash of monsters pitted against the heroes.

May 30th, 2005

Spaces Of Representation: The Struggle For Social Justice In Postwar Guatemala  By Michael T. Millar.  Peter Lang Publishing.  April 2005.

Spaces of Representation: The Struggle for Social Justice in Postwar Guatemala juxtaposes a variety of contemporary Guatemalan discourses-literary fiction, testimonio, historical and political documents, and popular drama-calling into question such notions as truth, clarification, memory, and storytelling in the representation of human experience.  It analyzes these texts in an effort to further a broader understanding of the dynamic social tensions that continue to exist in Guatemala despite the signing of the 1996 Peace Accords. This book illuminates the contemporary cultural production of Guatemala by highlighting peace and social justice-not as accomplished political and economic goals, but as perpetual motives for social transformation in Central America.

May 23rd, 2005

Cañar : A Year in the Highlands of Ecuador  By Judy Blankenship.  University of Texas Press.  April 2005.

Once isolated from the modern world in the heights of the Andean mountains, the indigenous communities of Ecuador now send migrants to New York City as readily as they celebrate festivals whose roots reach back to the pre-Columbian past.  Fascinated by this blending of old and new and eager to make a record of traditional customs and rituals before they disappear entirely,, photographer-journalist Judy Blankenship spent several years in Cañar, Ecuador, photographing the local people in their daily lives and conducting photography workshops to enable them to preserve their own visions of their culture.  Very much a personal account of a community undergoing change, Cañar documents such activities as plantings and harvests, religious processions, a traditional wedding, healing ceremonies, a death and funeral, and a home birth with a native midwife.

May 16th, 2005

Farmworker's Daughter: Growing Up Mexican in America  By By Rose Castillo Guilbault.  Heyday Books.  April 2005.

In this affectionate memoir, Guilbault invites us into her girlhood, revealing what it was like to grow up as a Mexican immigrant in a farming community during the turbulent 1960s. She recalls her early struggles to learn English, to fit in with schoolmates with their Barbie dolls and cupcakes, to win approval, and to bridge the tensions between home life and the public world to which she was drawn.  As her mother dreams of owning a house with her new farmworker husband, Rose perfects her English and writes for the school newspaper, nurturing dreams of her own that will eventually take her far from her life as a farmworker’s daughter.

May 9th, 2005

To Die in Cuba: Suicide and Society  By By Louis A. Pérez Jr.  University of North Carolina Press.  April 2005.

In a study that spans the experiences of enslaved Africans and indentured Chinese in the colony, nationalists of the twentieth-century republic, and emigrants from Cuba to Florida following the 1959 revolution, Perez finds that the act of suicide was loaded with meanings that changed over time.  Under certain circumstances, it served to consecrate the proposition of nation; at other times, it confirmed despair and hopelessness. It could be a function of heroism or a result of humiliation. In perhaps the most noteworthy and most celebrated form of voluntary death in Cuba, suicide was construed as a political act, a sacrifice of one's life on behalf of some ideal associated with the exaltation of the nation. By the twentieth century, suicide had become a common subject in literature, music, and the popular media, where it was often treated as a source of humor.

May 2nd, 2005

If This Be Treason: Translation And Its Dyscontents-A Memoir  By Gregory Rabassa.  New Directions.  April 2005.

Gregory Rabassa's influence as a translator is incalculable.  His translation of Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years Of Solitude and Julio Cortázar's Hopscotch have helped make these some of the most widely read and respected books in world knowledge.  Here, Rabassa offers a cool-headed and humorous defense of translation, laying out this views on the craft.  Anecdotal, and always illuminating, If This Be Treason traces Rabassa's career, from his boyhood on a New Hampshire farm, his school days "collecting" languages, the two and half years he spent overseas during WW II, his South American travels, until one day "I signed my first contract to do my first translation of a long work [ Cortázar's Hopscotch] for a commercial publisher."

April 25th, 2005

Boricua Pop: Puerto Ricans and American Culture  By Frances Negron-Muntaner .  NYU Press.  May 2004.

Boricua Pop is the first book solely devoted to Puerto Rican visibility, cultural impact, and identity formation in the U.S. and at home. Frances Negrón-Muntaner explores everything from the beloved American musical West Side Story to the phenomenon of singer/actress/ fashion designer Jennifer Lopez, from the faux historical chronicle Seva to the creation of Puerto Rican Barbie, from novelist Rosario Ferré to performer Holly Woodlawn, and from painter provocateur Andy Warhol to the seemingly overnight success story of Ricky Martin. Negrón-Muntaner traces some of the many possible itineraries of exchange between American and Puerto Rican cultures, including the commodification of Puerto Rican cultural practices such as voguing, graffiti, and the Latinization of pop music. Drawing from literature, film, painting, and popular culture, and including both the normative and the odd, the canonized authors and the misfits, the island and its diaspora, Boricua Pop is a fascinating blend of low life and high culture: a highly original, challenging, and lucid new work by one of our most talented cultural critics.

April 18th, 2005

The Letter of Violence : Essays on Narrative, Ethics, and Politics  By Idelber Avelar .  Palgrave Macmillan.  January 2005.

This book traces the theory of violence from nineteenth-century symmetrical warfare through today's warfare of electronics and unbalanced numbers. Surveying such luminaries as Walter Benjamin, Frantz Fanon, Hannah Arendt, Paul Virilio, and Jacques Derrida, Avelar also offers a discussion of theories of torture and confession, the work of Roman Polanski and Borges, and a meditation on the rise of the novel in Colombia.

April 11th, 2005

Buried Secrets : Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala  By Victoria Stanford.  Palgrave Macmillan.  August 2004.

Between the late 1970s and the late 1980s, Guatemala was torn by mass terror and extreme violence in a genocidal campaign against the Maya, which becameknown as "La Violencia." More than 600 massacres occurred, one and a half million people were displaced, and more than 200,000 civilians were murdered, most of them Maya. Buried Secrets brings these chilling statistics to life as it chronicles the journey of Maya survivors seeking truth, justice, and community healing, and demonstrates that the Guatemalan army carried out a systematic and intentional genocide against the Maya.  The book is based on exhaustive research, including more than 400 testimonies from massacre survivors, interviews with members of the forensic team, human rights leaders, high-ranking military officers, guerrilla combatants, and government officials. Buried Secrets traces truth-telling and political change from isolated Maya villages to national political events, and provides a unique look into the experiences of Maya survivors as they struggle to rebuild their communities and lives.

April 4th, 2005

Cruelty & Utopia: Cities And Landscapes Of Latin America  Edited by Jean-François Lejeune.  Princeton Architectural Press.  January 2005.

This landmark collection of illustrated essays explores the vastly underappreciated history of America's other cities -- the great metropolises found south of our borders in Central and South America. Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Mexico City, Caracas, Havana, Santiago, Rio, Tijuana, and Quito are just some of the subjects of this diverse collection. How have desires to create modern societies shaped these cities, leading to both architectural masterworks (by the likes of Luis Barragán, Juan O'Gorman, Lúcio Costa, Roberto Burle Marx, Carlos Raúl Villanueva, and Lina Bo Bardi) and the most shocking favelas? How have they grappled with concepts of national identity, their colonial history, and the continued demands of a globalized economy? Lavishly illustrated, Cruelty and Utopia features the work of such leading scholars as Carlos Fuentes, Edward Burian, Lauro Cavalcanti, Fernando Oayrzún, Roberto Segre, and Eduardo Subirats, along with artwork ranging from colonial paintings to stills from Chantal Akerman's film From the Other Side. Also included is a revised translation of Spanish King Philip II's influential planning treatise of 1573, the "Laws of the Indies," which did so much to define the form of the Latin American city.

March 28th, 2005

The Lamentable Journey of Omaha Bigelow Into the Impenetrable Loisada Jungle  By Eduardo Vega Yunque.  Overlook Paperback.  November 2004.

"Just laid-off from Kinko's, dumped by his girlfriend, failed in all his career aspirations, and burdened with a particularly frustrating anatomical shortcoming, Omaha Bigelow finds salvation on the streets of New York's Lower East Side in the form of Maruquita Salsipuedes, a nubile young Nuyorican homegirl equipped with an array of magical powers to cure his problems. Their misbegotten romance transforms him from perpetual loser to overnight success, but magic may have a price; soon he must struggle to remain faithful, as he becomes ensnared in the world of an irresistible WASP law student and a sinister ex-CIA agent who just happens to be her father." Vega Yunque challenges the received wisdom of contemporary life and the politics that underpin it - everything from preventive war to "compassionate conservatism" - in expressly salient parallel commentary that invites readers to engage with his unsparing assessment of how we've gotten ourselves so 'plexed up.

March 21st, 2005

Spectacular City: Violence and Performance in Urban Bolivia  By Daniel M. Goldstein.  Duke University Press.  August 2004.

Since the Bolivian revolution in 1952, migrants have come to the city of Cochabamba, seeking opportunity and relief from rural poverty. They have settled in barrios on the city’s outskirts only to find that the rights of citizens—basic rights of property and security, especially protection from crime—are not available to them. Daniel M. Goldstein considers the significance of and similarities between two kinds of spectacles—street festivals and the vigilante lynching of criminals—as they are performed in the Cochabamba barrio of Villa Pagador.  By examining folkloric festivals and vigilante violence within the same analytical framework, Goldstein shows how marginalized urban migrants, shut out of the city and neglected by the state, use performance to assert their national belonging and to express their grievances against the inadequacies of the state’s official legal order.

During the period of Goldstein’s fieldwork in Villa Pagador in the mid-1990s, residents attempted to lynch several thieves and attacked the police who tried to intervene. Since that time, there have been hundreds of lynchings in the poor barrios surrounding Cochabamba. Goldstein presents the lynchings of thieves as a form of horrific performance, with elements of critique and political action that echo those of local festivals. He explores the consequences and implications of extralegal violence for human rights and the rule of law in the contemporary Andes. In rich detail, he provides an in-depth look at the development of Villa Pagador and of the larger metropolitan area of Cochabamba, illuminating a contemporary Andean city from both microethnographic and macrohistorical perspectives. Focusing on indigenous peoples’ experiences of urban life and their attempts to manage their sociopolitical status within the broader context of neoliberal capitalism and political decentralization, The Spectacular City highlights the deep connections between performance, law, violence, and the state. 

March 14th, 2005

The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas  By Diana Taylor.  Duke University Press.  September 2003.

In The Archive and the Repertoire preeminent performance studies scholar Diana Taylor provides a new understanding of the vital role of performance in the Americas. From plays to official events to grassroots protests, performance, she argues, must be taken seriously as a means of storing and transmitting knowledge. Taylor reveals how the repertoire of embodied memory—conveyed in gestures, the spoken word, movement, dance, song, and other performances—offers alternative perspectives to those derived from the written archive and is particularly useful to a reconsideration of historical processes of transnational contact.  Examining various genres of performance including demonstrations by the children of the disappeared in Argentina, the Peruvian theatre group Yuyachkani, and televised astrological readings by Univision personality Walter Mercado, Taylor explores how the archive and the repertoire work together to make political claims, transmit traumatic memory, and forge a new sense of cultural identity.

March 7th, 2005

Liberty for Latin America : How to Undo Five Hundred Years of State Oppression  By Alvaro Llosa Vargas.  Farrar, Straus & Giroux.  February 2005.

In Liberty for Latin America, Alvaro Vargas Llosa offers an incisive diagnosis of Latin America's woes--and a prescription for finally getting the region on the road to both genuine prosperity and the protection of human rights.  When the economy in Argentina--at one time a model of free-market reform--collapsed in 2002, experts of all persuasions asked: What went wrong? Vargas Llosa shows that what went wrong in Argentina has in fact gone wrong all over the continent for over five hundred years. He explains how the republics of the nineteenth century and the revolutions of the twentieth-populist uprisings, Marxist coups, state takeovers, and First World-sponsored privatization-have all run up against the oligarchic legacy of statism. Illiberal elites backed by the United States and Europe have perpetuated what he calls the "five principles of oppression" in order to maintain their hold on power. The region has become "a laboratory for political and economic suicide," while comparable countries in Asia and Eastern Europe have prospered.  The only way to change things in Latin America, Vargas Llosa argues, is to remove the five principles of oppression, genuinely reforming institutions and the underlying culture for the benefit of the disempowered public.

February 28th, 2005

I Am Aztlán: The Personal Essay In Chicano Studies  By Chon A. Noriega and Wendy Laura BelcherUCLA Chicano Studies Research Center Press.  November 2004.

This anthology brings together twelve essays by scholars, writers, and artists reflecting on the role of the "I" in Chicano and Latino culture and the diverse ways in which personal voice and experience inform their research. Max Benavidez remembers learning English, listening to his great-grandmother’s stories, reading Don Quixote, seeing the bruises on a beautiful bride, and following a Hopi Indian painter. Harry Gamboa Jr., the artist, deconstructs the freeway, perceptual pollution, fine dining, call-in shows, solipsistic conversations, and the death of self. Santa C. Barraza, the painter, reflects on her journey home, after a twenty-five-year absence, to the Texas town where she was born. Chon A. Noriega writes about his father’s Mexican LPs to come to a more compassionate understanding of the man who shaped his own career. Frances Negrón-Muntaner, the filmmaker, presents home as an unresolved and politically charged problem to which film gives witness. Vincent Pérez tells the story of his grandfather and the secret rape that shaped his family history. Jerry Garcia addresses the role of cocks in his father’s life, playing with ideas of masculinity and machismo. tatiana de la tierra provides a personal testimony on the history of two groundbreaking Latina lesbian journals in the early 1990s. Alma Lopez, the artist, reports from the field on recent censorship attempts in New Mexico against her work on Our Lady of Guadalupe. Ruben Ochoa, the artist, responds to the glass walls and ceilings that have limited Chicano access to institutions with … a glass zoot suit! Alvina E. Quintana offers a self-critical pedagogy through her experiences teaching mostly white East Coast students about Los Angeles. Arlene Dávila analyzes how her access to marketing agencies and employees was mediated by their perceptions of her as a Latina.

February 21st, 2005

On Becoming Nuyoricans  By Angela Anselmo and Alma Rubal-Lopez.  Peter Lang Publishing.  November 2004.

On Becoming Nuyoricans takes an intimate look at two sisters' experiences growing up as part of the first generation of female Puerto Ricans born and raised in New York during the 1950s and 1960s. This generation of Puerto Ricans, also referred to as "Nuyoricans," played a critical role in helping to define unique issues of race, assimilation, and equity for immigrants who were not white Europeans (African Americans notwithstanding) in a society that defined itself as a "melting pot." This book also examines critical issues related to community, home, class, values, motivation, and identity that have played a role in molding who those women are today. In essence, On Becoming Nuyoricans provides an important look at a pivotal period in American society as depicted in these sisters' narratives and an analysis of their recollections.

February 14th, 2005

Killer Crónicas: Bilingual Memories  By Susana Chávez-Silverman.  University of Wisconsin Press.  October 2004.

A woman living and communicating in multiple lands, Susana Chávez-Silverman conveys her cultural and linguistic displacement in a humorous, bittersweet, and even tangible way in this truly bilingual literary work. These meditative and lyrical pieces that combine poignant personal confession, detailed daily observation, and a memorializing drive that shifts across time and among geocultural spaces. The author's inventive and flamboyant use of Spanglish, a hybrid English-Spanish idiom, and her adaptation of the confessional "crónica" make this memoir compelling and powerful. Killer Crónicas confirms that there is no Latina voice quite like that of Susana Chávez-Silverman.

February 7th, 2005

Race in Another America : The Significance of Skin Color in Brazil  By Edward E. Telles.  Princeton University Press.  July, 2004.

North American scholars of race relations frequently turn to Brazil for comparisons, since its history has many key similarities to that of the United States. Brazilians have commonly compared themselves with North Americans, and have traditionally argued that race relations in Brazil are far more harmonious because the country encourages race mixture rather than formal or informal segregation.  More recently, however, scholars have challenged this national myth, seeking to show that race relations are characterized by exclusion, not inclusion, and that fair-skinned Brazilians continue to be privileged and hold a disproportionate share of wealth and power.  In this sociological and demographic study, Edward Telles seeks to understand the reality of race in Brazil and how well it squares with these traditional and revisionist views of race relations. He shows that both schools have it partly right--that there is far more miscegenation in Brazil than in the United States--but that exclusion remains a serious problem. He blends his demographic analysis with ethnographic fieldwork, history, and political theory to try to "understand" the enigma of Brazilian race relations--how inclusiveness can coexist with exclusiveness.  The book also seeks to understand some of the political pathologies of buying too readily into unexamined ideas about race relations. In the end, Telles contends, the traditional myth that Brazil had harmonious race relations compared with the United States encouraged the government to do almost nothing to address its shortcomings.

January 31st, 2005

Brazil's Modern Architecture  By Adrian Forty and Elisabeth Andreoli.  Phaidon Press.  February 2005.

This is the most comprehensive survey and analysis of twentieth-century Brazilian Architecture, written by Brazilian architects and writers for an international audience. Its key events and buildings appear not in a conventional chronological account but within a series of thematic chapters (critical reception, construction issues, urbanism, typological description of the modern house, affordable housing and new fields of practice, survey of recent works).  It is a history of Brazilian modern architecture retold with a Brazilian voice by the new generation of critics and historians. This book offers a fresh reading of the well-known era of high-modernism of the 1930s-1960s placing it within both the context of architecture before and since and the broader changes taking place in Brazilian culture at the time. It also charts post-Brasilia developments, including contemporary projects, showing how architects have adapted to the contradictions of an increasingly polarised society and the relevance of Brazilian architecture for current debates around issues such as large-scale urban growth and the tension between local identities and global civilisation. Covering around 200 projects, it is extensively illustrated with both historical black and white photographs and new colour photographs and drawings

January 24th, 2005

Beyond Bodegas: Developing a Retail Relationship with Hispanic Customers  By Jim Perkins.  Paramount Marketing Publishing Inc.  November 2004.

The real competition for Hispanic market share takes place at the local level. Regardless of the nature of your business--retail, convenience stores, banks, supermarkets--if you want to be a successful and profitable player in the lucrative Hispanic marketplace, you need to understand the dynamics of the community at the local level.  Discover why a sleek mo dern store may turn off Hispanic consumers. Learn the importance of diversifying the workforce in your retail store. Listen in on neighborhood conversations around the simple pleasures of ice cream. Learn about cultural nostalgia, and when and when not to rely on Spanish as an advertising language.

January 17th, 2005

The Saddest Country: On Assignment In Colombia  By Nicholas Coghlan  McGill-Queen's University Press.  November 2004.

The Saddest Country is the personal account of a diplomat's three-year obsession with Colombia. It takes the reader on a geographical tour of the country, placing in stark contrast the immense diversity and beauty of Colombia and the bloody civil war and the violence of the drug trade that mar it.  Nicholas Coghlan arrived in Bogota in 1997. A political officer for the Canadian government, it was his responsibility to report on Colombia's complex civil conflict, lobby the Colombian authorities on human rights, and provide visible moral support and other assistance to the victims of the war. Soon after he arrived it became apparent that he could not fulfill these functions from the relative peace and security of Bogota and he found himself traveling to remote and sometimes dangerous locations rarely visited by outsiders - the coca fields of Putumayo, the swamps of the Darien Gap, the vast savannahs of the Llano - meeting with everyone from impoverished inhabitants of the barrios to guerrilla leaders, from human rights activists to military commanders.

January 10th, 2005

Colonial Subjects: Puerto Rico in a Global Perspective  By Ramón Grosfoguel.  University of California Press.  September 2003.

Colonial Subjects is the first book to use a combination of world-system and postcolonial approaches to compare Puerto Rican migration with Caribbean migration to both the United States and Western Europe.  Ramon Grosfoguel provides an alternative reading of the world-system approach to Puerto Rico's history, political economy, and urbanization processes. He offers a comprehensive and well-reasoned framework for understanding the position of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean, the position of Puerto Ricans in the United States, and the position of colonial migrants compared to noncolonial migrants in the world system.

January 3rd, 2005

Oaxaca at the Crossroads: Managing Memory, Negotiating Change  By Selma Holo.  Smithsonian Books.  December, 2004.

This detailed examination focuses on the artists and museums of Oaxaca, Mexico: a city and province celebrated worldwide by tourists, collectors, and art historians for its polished black pottery, colorful carvings of animals, fine textiles, world class museums and galleries, archaeology, and famous contemporary artists.  Selma Holo looks in particular at how individuals and groups at national, regional, and local levels use museums to advance a particular view of history and identity. She clearly explains the way Mexico's pre-Columbian past has been represented, who has contested it, who holds the rights to Oaxaca's archaeological treasures, who has the authority to narrate the country's cultural history, who creates new museums and new mythologies about national and local identity, and many other intriguing subjects.

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