Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico

Debra Lattanzi Shutika. Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2011. $65.00, hardcover. $27.95, paperback. $27.95, e-book.

 Fredericka Schmadel
Indiana University

Folklorist Debra Lattanzi Shutika’s Beyond the Borderlands might appear atypical, but the material remains relevant to folklorists. Folklife and material culture researchers and those interested in a sense of place or identity, a sense of belonging, will find food for thought in chapter 3, which describes the translocal, village-to-village identity of the migrants who moved from a prosperous Guanajuato village to a more prosperous village in Pennsylvania. Shutika goes into detail about the memorials they set up, in their village of origin, to themselves and their families by preserving for decades their pre-migration houses, called casas vacias (vacant houses) which in reality are full of their life stories and dreams. Continue reading “Beyond the Borderlands: Migration and Belonging in the United States and Mexico”

Where the Ox Does Not Plow: A Mexican American Ballad

Peña, Manuel. Where the Ox Does Not Plow: A Mexican American Ballad. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2008. 233 pages. $19.95 hardcover.

Ginny Hosler
Indiana University

Where the Ox Does Not Plow by Manuel Peña is a narrative ethnography written in first person. It consists of first-hand accounts of basic human experiences, such as childhood tales, written portraits of family members, and love stories, as they relate to the Mexican born Manuel Peña. Continue reading “Where the Ox Does Not Plow: A Mexican American Ballad”

Corridos in Migrant Memory

Chew Sánchez, Martha I. Corridos in Migrant Memory. Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 2006. pp. 246 34 halftones, 4 maps, index. Paper $29.95.

Heather A. Vrana
Indiana University

Since the informal declaration of war between the drug cartels and the U.S. and Mexican states, the border zone at El Paso and Ciudad Juarez has become the obsession of gangs, federal police, local police, civilian vigilantes, NGOs, journalists, and academics. Corridos in Migrant Memory apprehends this border region not by spatial practice but by representational space and the song form of the corrido. Following earlier work on Mexican folk song by Américo Paredes, Vicente Mendoza, John McDowell, and Guillermo Hernández, Martha I. Chew Sánchez considers the function of corridos in migrant experience.

Continue reading “Corridos in Migrant Memory”

Thomas Huanca L. Tsimane Oral Tradition, Landscape, and Identity in Tropical Forest

Tomas Huanca L. Tsimane Oral Tradition, Landscape, and Identity in Tropical Forest. La Paz, Bolivia: SEPHIS – South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development. 2006. Pp. iii+279, color and black and white photos, line drawings, and designs, color and black and white maps, index., glossary of indigenous terms.

Fredericka Schmadel
Indiana University

Tomas Huanca L., who lived with the Tsimane in Amazonian Bolivia for nine years, documented their traditions, oral history, and myths, retreating now in the face of outside pressure. He includes helpful chapter summaries, many photographs, maps, and charts, a glossary of Tsimane terms, a pronunciation guide, and a bibliography with extensive oral archival as well as scholarly sources. However, once the reader has found a useful section on a topic — a trickster figure, the use of tobacco and/or beer in healing ceremonies, or the Masters of the Game — compare-contrast material will be lacking. It is almost as if the Tsimane, alone among indigenous groups, incorporated tricksters, beer customs, and the like into their world view. This is most decidedly not the case. For this reason, readers who are familiar with other Amazonian indigenous communities will benefit from this ethnography more than readers looking for an introduction to the field.

Continue reading “Thomas Huanca L. Tsimane Oral Tradition, Landscape, and Identity in Tropical Forest”

Lindsay Hale. Hearing the Mermaids Song: The Umbanda Religion in Rio De Janeiro

Lindsay Hale.  Hearing the Mermaids Song: The Umbanda Religion in Rio De Janeiro.  Albuquerque:  University of New Mexico Press, 2009.  6 x 9 pp208.  $26.95 paperback.

Taylor Schlichter
Indiana University

Umbanda is a complex and unique religion popular in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It involves mediums who summon spirits of old slaves, Indians, saints, and even young children through trance. It is a mixture of traditional African religious practices brought over by slaves, Catholicism, and sometimes the writings of Allen Kardec; full of African rituals and magic, it still manages to tie in Catholic ideas.  Many Afro-Brazilians particularly identify with this religion because of its undeniable African roots.  Recently, however, Brazilian people of European descent have begun to practice Umbanda. The spirits talk to members of Umbanda centers through the mediums and help them work through issues and problems they are experiencing.  Mediums take on the full mannerisms of the spirit they are channeling during the trances. They talk, sing, move, and even eat like the spirit. There are multiple kinds of spirits that serve different purposes. Old slaves, or pretos velhos, are kind, gentle spirits who are wise and patient.  Indian spirits, or Caboclos, are arrogant and brave.   All spirits, however, serve the Orixas, or gods, and console people about how to live the right way. Continue reading “Lindsay Hale. Hearing the Mermaids Song: The Umbanda Religion in Rio De Janeiro”

Mythic Narrative Performances: The Myth of the Kharisiri

Mythic Narrative Performances: The Myth of the Kharisiri

Vannessa Pelaez-Barrios
Indiana University

Abstract:

In this essay, I analyze and explore the linguistic and poetic dimensions of language used by people I interviewed about a mythic narrative with controversial content. Because of the nature of these oral narratives, performers have to position themselves with care to avoid misunderstandings in their narratives. The purpose of this paper is to understand that moments of speech are significant elements in ordinary social encounters. Continue reading “Mythic Narrative Performances: The Myth of the Kharisiri”