Ben-Hur (1959), Jaws (1975), Avatar (2009), Wonder Woman (2017): the blockbuster movie has held a dominant position in American popular culture for decades. In American Blockbuster Charles R. Acland charts the origins, impact, and dynamics of this most visible, entertaining, and disparaged cultural form. Acland narrates how blockbusters emerged from Hollywood's turn to a hit-driven focus during the industry's business crisis in the 1950s. Movies became bigger, louder, and more spectacular. They also became prototypes for ideas and commodities associated with the future of technology and culture, accelerating the prominence of technological innovation in modern American life. Acland shows that blockbusters continue to be more than just movies; they are industrial strategies and complex cultural machines designed to normalize the ideologies of our technological age.
In The Atlas of an Anxious Man, Christoph Ransmayr offers a mesmerizing travel diary—a sprawling tale of earthly wonders seen by a wandering eye. This is an exquisite, lyrically told travel story.
Translated by Simon Pare, this unique account follows Ransmayr across the globe: from the shadow of Java’s volcanoes to the rapids of the Mekong and Danube Rivers, from the drift ice of the Arctic Circle to Himalayan passes, and on to the disenchanted islands of the South Pacific. Ransmayr begins again and again with, “I saw. . .” recounting to the reader the stories of continents, eras, and landscapes of the soul. Like maps, the episodes come together to become a book of the world—one that charts the life and death, happiness and fate of people bound up in images of breathtaking beauty.
“One of the German language’s most gifted young novelists.”—Library Journal, on The Terrors of Ice and Darkness
In Bound and Determined, Christopher Castiglia gives shape for the first time to a tradition of American women's captivity narrative that ranges across three centuries, from Puritan colonist Mary Rowlandson's abduction by Narragansett Indians to Patty Hearst's kidnapping by the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Examining more than sixty accounts by women captives, as well as novels ranging from Susanna Rowson's eighteenth-century classic Rueben and Rachel to today's mass-market romances, Castiglia investigates paradoxes central to the genre. In captivity, women often find freedom from stereotypical roles as helpless, dependent, sexually vulnerable, and xenophobic. In their condemnations of their non-white captors, they defy assumptions about race that undergird their own societies. Castiglia questions critical conceptions of captivity stories as primarily an appeal to racism and misogyny, and instead finds in them an appeal of a much different nature: as all-too-rare stories of imaginative challenges to rigid gender roles and racial ideologies.
Whether the women of these stories resist or escape captivity, endure until they are released, or eventually choose to live among their captors, they end up with the power to be critical of both cultures. Castiglia shows that these compelling narratives, with their boundary crossings and persistent explorations of cultural divisions and differences, have significant implications for current critical investigations into the construction of gender, race, and nation.
At the close of the twentieth century, black artists began to figure prominently in the mainstream American art world for the first time. Thanks to the social advances of the civil rights movement and the rise of multiculturalism, African American artists in the late 1980s and early ’90s enjoyed unprecedented access to established institutions of publicity and display. Yet in this moment of ostensible freedom, black cultural practitioners found themselves turning to the history of slavery.
Bound to Appear focuses on four of these artists—Renée Green, Glenn Ligon, Lorna Simpson, and Fred Wilson—who have dominated and shaped the field of American art over the past two decades through large-scale installations that radically departed from prior conventions for representing the enslaved. Huey Copeland shows that their projects draw on strategies associated with minimalism, conceptualism, and institutional critique to position the slave as a vexed figure—both subject and object, property and person. They also engage the visual logic of race in modernity and the challenges negotiated by black subjects in the present. As such, Copeland argues, their work reframes strategies of representation and rethinks how blackness might be imagined and felt long after the end of the “peculiar institution.” The first book to examine in depth these artists’ engagements with slavery, Bound to Appear will leave an indelible mark on modern and contemporary art.
Raised among Mexican American farmworkers, singer-songwriter Cris Plata spoke Spanish, ate Mexican food, and heard Mexican music played by family and friends. He also spoke English, went to school with mostly white children for at least half the year, and grew more familiar with mainstream American culture. Until he was seven, he and his family lived and worked on a ranch near Poteet, Texas. The family became migrant farmworkers, moving from Indiana to Arkansas and Florida before finally settling in Wisconsin in 1966 to work at an Astico farm.
This dual language book shares the Plata’s family story of migrant farming, music, and family amid the constant change and uncertainty of migrant life. While hardships—from poor working conditions and low wages to racial prejudice—were constant in Cris Plata’s upbringing, so too was the music that bonded and uplifted his family. After long days in the fields, Cris’s family spent their small amount of free time playing and singing songs from Mexico and South Texas. Cris learned to play the guitar, accordion, and mandolin, beginning to strum when he was just five years old. Today, he writes his own music, performs songs in English and Spanish, and records albums with his band, Cris Plata with Extra Hot.
Following Cris Plata’s journey from farm fields to musical stages, the story explores how a migrant, and the son of an immigrant, decided to make Wisconsin his home.
My parents always told me I was Mexican. I was Mexican because they were Mexican. This was sometimes modified to “Mexican American,” since I was born in California, and thus automatically a U.S. citizen. But, my parents said, this, too, was once part of Mexico. My father would say this with a sweeping gesture, taking in the smog, the beautiful mountains, the cars and houses and fast-food franchises. When he made that gesture, all was cleared away in my mind’s eye to leave the hazy impression of a better place. We were here when the white people came, the Spaniards, then the Americans. And we will be here when they go away, he would say, and it will be part of Mexico again.
Thus begins a lyrical and entirely absorbing collection of personal essays by esteemed Chicana writer and gifted storyteller Kathleen Alcalá. Loosely linked by an exploration of the many meanings of “family,” these essays move in a broad arc from the stories and experiences of those close to her to those whom she wonders about, like Andrea Yates, a mother who drowned her children. In the process of digging and sifting, she is frequently surprised by what she unearths. Her family, she discovers, were Jewish refugees from the Spanish Inquisition who took on the trappings of Catholicism in order to survive.
Although the essays are in many ways personal, they are also universal. When she examines her family history, she is encouraging us to inspect our own families, too. When she investigates a family secret, she is supporting our own search for meaning. And when she writes that being separated from our indigenous culture is “a form of illiteracy,” we know exactly what she means. After reading these essays, we find that we have discovered not only why Kathleen Alcalá is a writer but also why we appreciate her so much. She helps us to find ourselves.
In his books The Great Plains, The Great Frontier, and The Texas Rangers, historian Walter Prescott Webb created an enduring image of fearless, white, Anglo male settlers and lawmen bringing civilization to an American Southwest plagued with "savage" Indians and Mexicans. So popular was Webb's vision that it influenced generations of historians and artists in all media and effectively silenced the counter-narratives that Mexican American writers and historians were concurrently producing to claim their standing as "gente decente," people of worth.
These counter-narratives form the subject of Leticia M. Garza-Falcón's study. She explores how prominent writers of Mexican descent-such as Jovita González, Américo Paredes, María Cristina Mena, Fermina Guerra, Beatriz de la Garza, and Helena María Viramontes -have used literature to respond to the dominative history of the United States, which offered retrospective justification for expansionist policies in the Southwest and South Texas. Garza-Falcón shows how these counter-narratives capture a body of knowledge and experience excluded from "official" histories, whose "facts" often emerged more from literary techniques than from objective analysis of historical data.
Kevin Warwick University of Illinois Press, 2002 Library of Congress QA76.2.W38W37 2004 | Dewey Decimal 004.019
Now available for the first time in America, I, Cyborg is the story of Kevin Warwick, the cybernetic pioneer advancing science by upgrading his own body.
Warwick, the world's leading expert in cybernetics, explains how he has deliberately crossed over a perilous threshold to take the first practical steps toward becoming a cyborg--part human, part machine--using himself as a guinea pig and undergoing surgery to receive technological implants connected to his central nervous system.
Believing that machines with intelligence far beyond that of humans will eventually make the important decisions, Warwick investigates whether we can avoid obsolescence by using technology to improve on our comparatively limited capabilities. Warwick also discusses the implications for human relationships, and his wife's participation in the experiments.
Beyond the autobiography of a scientist who became, in part, a machine, I, Cyborg is also a story of courage, devotion, and endeavor that split apart personal lives. The results of these amazing experiments have far-reaching implications not only for e-medicine, extra-sensory input, increased memory and knowledge, and even telepathy, but for the future of humanity as well.
Kathleen McHugh University of Illinois Press, 2006 Library of Congress PN1998.3.C3545M38 2007 | Dewey Decimal 791.430233092
In considering Jane Campion's early award-winning short films on through international sensation The Piano and beyond, Kathleen McHugh traces the director's distinctive visual style as well as her commitment to consistently renovating the conventions of "women's films." By refusing to position her female protagonists as victims, McHugh argues, Campion scrupulously avoids the moral structures of melodrama, and though she often works with the narratives, mise-en-scene, and visual tropes typical of that genre, her films instead invite a distanced or even amused engagement.
Jane Campion concludes with four brief, revelatory interviews and a filmography. Campion spoke twice with Michel Ciment—after the screening of her short and medium-length films at the Cannes Film Festival 1986, and three years later, after the Cannes screening of Sweetie. Judith Lewis narrates a Beverly Hills interview with Campion that followed the release of Holy Smoke, and Lizzie Francke's interview, reprinted from Sight and Sound,centers on Campion's film In the Cut, adapted from Susanna Moore's novel.
A volume in the series Contemporary Film Directors, edited by James R. Naremore
Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne
Joseph Mai University of Illinois Press, 2010 Library of Congress PN1998.3.D364M35 2010 | Dewey Decimal 791.4302330922
For well over a decade, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne have produced highly original and ethically charged films that immerse their audiences in an intense and embodied viewing experience. Their work has consistently attracted international recognition, including the rare feat of two Palmes d'Or at Cannes.
In this first book-length study of the Belgian brothers, Joseph Mai delivers sophisticated close analyses of their directorial style and explores the many philosophical issues dealt with in their films (especially the ethics of Emmanuel Levinas). Mai discusses the Dardennes' varied and searching career from its inception in the late 1970s, starting with the working-class political consciousness and lost utopias of their documentary period; passing through their transition toward fictional narrative, experimental techniques, and familial themes; and finishing with a series of in-depth and philosophically informed interpretations of the brothers' more recent work. In such highly influential films such as La promesse, Rosetta, The Son, and The Child, the brothers have recast filmmaking through what Mai calls a "sensuous realism"--realism capable of touching the audience with the most compelling problems and moral dilemmas of contemporary society. This volume also features an interview in which the Dardennes discuss their approach to film production and the direction of actors.
“After saying our good-byes to friends and neighbors, we all got in the cars and headed up the hill and down the road toward a future in Ohio that we hoped would be brighter,” Otis Trotter writes in his affecting memoir, Keeping Heart: A Memoir of Family Struggle, Race, and Medicine.
Organized around the life histories, medical struggles, and recollections of Trotter and his thirteen siblings, the story begins in 1914 with his parents, Joe William Trotter Sr. and Thelma Odell Foster Trotter, in rural Alabama. By telling his story alongside the experiences of his parents as well as his siblings, Otis reveals cohesion and tensions in twentieth-century African American family and community life in Alabama, West Virginia, and Ohio.
This engaging chronicle illuminates the journeys not only of a black man born with heart disease in the southern Appalachian coalfields, but of his family and community. It fills an important gap in the literature on an underexamined aspect of American experience: the lives of blacks in rural Appalachia and in the nonurban endpoints of the Great Migration. Its emotional power is a testament to the importance of ordinary lives.
In The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora, Kin-Yan Szeto critically examines three of the most internationally famous martial arts film artists to arise out of the Chinese diaspora and travel far from their homelands to find commercial success in the world at large: Ang Lee, John Woo, and Jackie Chan. Positing the idea that these filmmakers' success is evidence of a "cosmopolitical awareness" arising from their cross-cultural ideological engagements and geopolitical displacements, Szeto demonstrates how this unique perspective allows these three filmmakers to develop and act in the transnational environment of media production, distribution, and consumption.
Beginning with a historical retrospective on Chinese martial arts films as a diasporic film genre and the transnational styles and ideologies of the filmmakers themselves, Szeto uses case studies to explore in depth how the forces of colonialism, Chinese nationalism, and Western imperialism shaped the identities and work of Lee, Woo, and Chan. Addressed in the volume is the groundbreaking martial arts swordplay film that achieves global success-Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon- and its revelations about Hollywood representations of Asians, as well as concepts of male and female masculinity in the swordplay film tradition. Also investigated is the invigoration of contemporary gangster, thriller, and war films by John Woo, whose combination of artistic and historical contexts has contributed to his global success.
Szeto then dissects Chan's mimetic representation of masculinity in his films, and the influences of his Chinese theater and martial arts training on his work. Szeto outlines the similarities and differences between the three artists' films, especially their treatments of gender, sexuality, and power. She concludes by analyzing their films as metaphors for their working conditions in the Chinese diaspora and Hollywood, and demonstrating how through their works, Lee, Woo, and Chan communicate not only with the rest of the world but also with each other.
Far from a book simply about three filmmakers, The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora investigates the transnational nature of films, the geopolitics of culture and race, and the depths of masculinity and power in movies. Szeto's interdisciplinary approach calls for nothing less than a paradigm shift in the study of Chinese diasporic filmmakers and the embodiment of cosmopolitical perspectives in the martial arts genre.
In this revised and expanded edition of Medicine Stories, Aurora Levins Morales weaves together insights and lessons learned over a lifetime of activism to offer a new theory of social justice. Calling for a politics of integrity that recognizes the complicated wholeness of individual and collective lives, Levins Morales delves among the interwoven roots of multiple oppressions, exposing connections, crafting strategies, and uncovering the wellsprings of resilience and joy. Throughout these twenty-eight essays—twenty-one of which are new or extensively revised—she exposes the structures and mechanisms that silence voices and divide movements. The result is a medicine bag full of techniques and perspectives to build a universal solidarity that is flexible, nuanced, and strong enough to fundamentally shift our world toward justice. Intimately personal and globally relevant, Medicine Stories brings clarity and hope to tangled, emotionally charged social issues in beautiful and accessible language.
It was a story so bizarre it defied belief: in April 1974, twenty-year-old newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst robbed a San Francisco bank in the company of members of the Symbionese Liberation Army—who had kidnapped her a mere nine weeks earlier. But the robbery—and the spectacular 1976 trial that ended with Hearst’s criminal conviction—seemed oddly appropriate to the troubled mood of the nation, an instant exemplar of a turbulent era.
With Patty’s Got a Gun, the first substantial reconsideration of Patty Hearst’s story in more than twenty-five years, William Graebner vividly re-creates the atmosphere of uncertainty and frustration of mid-1970s America. Drawing on copious media accounts of the robbery and trial—as well as cultural artifacts from glam rock to Invasion of the Body Snatchers—Graebner paints a compelling portrait of a nation confused and frightened by the upheavals of 1960s liberalism and beginning to tip over into what would become Reagan-era conservatism, with its invocations of individual responsibility and the heroic. Trapped in the middle of that shift, the affectless, zombielike, “brainwashed” Patty Hearst was a ready-made symbol of all that seemed to have gone wrong with the sixties—the inevitable result, some said, of rampant permissiveness, feckless elitism, the loss of moral clarity, and feminism run amok.
By offering a fresh look at Patty Hearst and her trial—for the first time free from the agendas of the day, yet set fully in their cultural context—Patty’s Got a Gun delivers a nuanced portrait of both an unforgettable moment and an entire era, one whose repercussions continue to be felt today.
The story of what happens when a serious writer goes to Hollywood has become a cliché: the writer is paid well but underappreciated, treated like a factory worker, and forced to write bad, formulaic movies. Most fail, become cynical, drink to excess, and at some point write a bitter novel that attacks the film industry in the name of high art. Like many too familiar stories, this one neither holds up to the facts nor helps us understand Hollywood novels. Instead, Chip Rhodes argues, these novels tell us a great deal about the ways that Hollywood has shaped both the American political landscape and American definitions of romance and desire.
Rhodes considers how novels about the film industry changed between the studio era of the 1930s and 1940s and the era of deregulated film making that has existed since the 1960s. He asserts that Americans are now driven by cultural, rather than class, differences and that our mainstream notion of love has gone from repressed desire to “abnormal desire” to, finally, strictly business.
Politics, Desire, and the Hollywood Novel pays close attention to six authors—Nathanael West, Raymond Chandler, Budd Schulberg, Joan Didion, Bruce Wagner, and Elmore Leonard—who have toiled in the film industry and written to tell about it. More specifically, Rhodes considers both screenplays and novels with an eye toward the different formulations of sexuality, art, and ultimately political action that exist in these two kinds of storytelling.
Helena María Viramontes is a professor, scholar-activist, and renowned author of works of fiction and nonfiction. Her work has been anthologized and is read widely in the United States and abroad. For many of her readings and speaking engagements she arrives wearing a rebozo, a shawl worn by Mexican and Chicana women living on both sides of the US–Mexico border. Once, when asked about her rebozo, Viramontes explained that the pre-Columbian icon is her “security blanket,” which she embraces in order to find comfort. For her readers, her writing functions like a "rebozo de palabras,” a shawl woven with words that nurture.
As Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs points out in her insightful introduction, not only has Viramontes’s work not yet received the broad critical engagement it richly deserves, but there remains a monumental gap in the interpretations of Chicana literature that reach mainstream audiences. Rebozos de Palabras addresses this void by focusing on how the Chicana image has evolved through Viramontes’s body of work. With a foreword by Sonia Saldívar-Hull, this collection addresses Viramontes entire oeuvre through newly produced articles by major literary critics and emerging scholars who engage Viramontes’s writing from multiple perspectives.
In 1977 David Foster took to the woods of New England to build a cabin with his own hands. Along with a few tools he brought a copy of the journals of Henry David Thoreau. Foster was struck by how different the forested landscape around him was from the one Thoreau described more than a century earlier. The sights and sounds that Thoreau experienced on his daily walks through nineteenth-century Concord were those of rolling farmland, small woodlands, and farmers endlessly working the land. As Foster explored the New England landscape, he discovered ancient ruins of cellar holes, stone walls, and abandoned cartways--all remnants of this earlier land now largely covered by forest. How had Thoreau's open countryside, shaped by ax and plough, divided by fences and laneways, become a forested landscape?
Part ecological and historical puzzle, this book brings a vanished countryside to life in all its dimensions, human and natural, offering a rich record of human imprint upon the land. Extensive excerpts from the journals show us, through the vividly recorded details of daily life, a Thoreau intimately acquainted with the ways in which he and his neighbors were changing and remaking the New England landscape. Foster adds the perspective of a modern forest ecologist and landscape historian, using the journals to trace themes of historical and social change.
Thoreau's journals evoke not a wilderness retreat but the emotions and natural history that come from an old and humanized landscape. It is with a new understanding of the human role in shaping that landscape, Foster argues, that we can best prepare ourselves to appreciate and conserve it today.
From the journal:
"I have collected and split up now quite a pile of driftwood--rails and riders and stems and stumps of trees--perhaps half or three quarters of a tree...Each stick I deal with has a history, and I read it as I am handling it, and, last of all, I remember my adventures in getting it, while it is burning in the winter evening. That is the most interesting part of its history. It has made part of a fence or a bridge, perchance, or has been rooted out of a clearing and bears the marks of fire on it...Thus one half of the value of my wood is enjoyed before it is housed, and the other half is equal to the whole value of an equal quantity of the wood which I buy."
Since the publication of From the Abandoned Cities in 1983, Donald Revell has been among the more consistent influencers in American poetry and poetics. Yet, his work has achieved the status it has—his honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation and awards from the PEN Center USA and American Poetry Review—in a manner that has often tended to belie its abiding significance. This collection of essays, reviews, and interviews is designed to ignite a more wide-ranging critical appraisal of Revell’s writing, from his fourteen collections of poems to his acclaimed translations of French symbolist and modernist poets to his artfully constructed literary criticism. Contributors such as Marjorie Perloff, Stephanie Burt, Dan Beachy-Quick, and Bruce Bond examine key elements in and across Revell’s work, from his visionary postmodernism (“Our words can never say the mystery of our meanings, but there they are: spoken and meaning worlds to us”) to his poetics of radical attention (“And so a poem has nothing to do with picking and choosing, with the mot juste and reflection in tranquility. It is a plain record of one’s entire presence”), in order to enlarge our understanding of how and why that work has come to occupy the place that it has in contemporary American letters.
“David Mason has succeeded in restoring to poetry some of the territory lost over recent centuries to prose fiction.”
—Paul Lake, First Things
In this new collection of essays, award-winning poet David Mason further broadens his exploration of Western and frontier themes. Beginning with the subject of poetry in and about the American West, he then widens his canvas to examine poets as diverse as James Wright, Anthony Hecht, and B. H. Fairchild, as well as taking up the idea of “the West” in global terms.
The title essay builds on a product of Mason’s upbringing in the American West—his “two minds” about the life of poetry, one aware that he needs and loves the art, and one equally aware that he understands a world outside cultural definitions. These two minds coexist throughout each lively, evocative essay, while Mason delves into family history and his efforts to connect himself to place, narrative poets of the American West, and farther-flung topics such as literary movements, post-colonial studies, and favorite Greek writers. In each of these meditations, Mason pursues a personal voice, connecting what he reads to a life outside books and making poetry accessible to the common reader.
In the autumn of 1972, Lucy Ferriss, then a college student in California, was preparing for the Veiled Prophet Ball at which she was to be presented to St. Louis society. Once the largest cotillion in the country, the invitation-only ball was unique among society events not only for the legend and mystery surrounding its namesake but also for its setting in a public, taxpayer-funded arena and for its accompanying parade.
In the late sixties and early seventies, with racial tensions at a boiling point and urban renewal failing, the exclusively white male Christian membership of the Veiled Prophet Society and the Veiled Prophet’s costume—eerily reminiscent of a Klansman’s—attracted the ire of ACTION, a militant civil rights group. Before the 1972 ball, ACTION founder Percy Green, himself a native St. Louisan, sent letters inviting all of the debutantes to join in the protest: “ACTION understands that you hate being part of this upcoming white racist Veiled Prophet Ball as we hate you being forced to participate by your parents.” The letter didn’t persuade Ferriss, who felt she owed it to her father to participate. She wrote back: “Don’t you have bigger fish to fry? This is just a stupid party. We are slaughtering people in Southeast Asia. Let this one go. It will fall of its own weight.”
But ACTION did not let this one go. On the night of the ball, as Ferriss bowed in obeisance to the crowd and took her place on the stage, a woman swooped down onto the stage and knocked off the Veiled Prophet’s hat and veil, revealing his identity. In the era of monumental Vietnam War protests, unmasking a wealthy and powerful old man might have seemed a feeble act of revolution, but this act forever changed the Veiled Prophet Ball in St. Louis.
Ferriss’s memoir blends regional history, national history, and her own personal history to create a fast-paced narrative that follows two time lines. One is the dramatic and often funny story of her attending the exclusive ball, having eaten half a pan of marijuana brownies beforehand, with a Jewish hippie who smelled of “unwashed beard.” The other story takes place thirty years later as Ferriss returns to St. Louis from her home on the East Coast to track down some of ACTION’s principal activists as well as key figures in the Veiled Prophet Society.
Over the course of this engaging story, Ferriss undergoes her own unveiling, as she discusses and comes to terms with her family; the past, present, and future of St. Louis; and the cultural politics that frame young women’s entrance into society.
A cofounder of the United Kingdom’s legendary 1980s performance company Impact Theatre Co-op, Claire MacDonald composed Utopia, a sequence of commissioned playtexts, between 1987 and 2008. This book brings together both the plays and the story of how they came to be written and produced. With a compelling introduction by the author and including additional material by Tim Etchells, Dee Heddon, and Lenora Champagne, it provides a range of historical and critical materials that put the plays in the context of MacDonald’s career as writer and collaborator and show how visual practices and poetics, theories of real and imagined space, and new approaches to language itself have profoundly shaped the development of performance writing in the United Kingdom.
Life along the color line in rural Ohio was hard. Being Black often meant feeling frightened and alone. For a family like Ric S. Sheffield’s, examining this reality closely meant confronting challenges and tragedies that often felt overwhelming, even as their odyssey also included the joyful and inspiring. Navigating day-to-day existence in a world where trusting white neighbors required a careful mixture of caution and faith, Sheffield and his kin existed in a space where they were both seen and unseen.
Spanning four generations and assessing the legacies of traumatic events (arrests, murders, suicide) that are inextricable from the racial dynamics of the small community his family called home, this gripping memoir is a heartfelt, clear-eyed, and rare chronicle of Black life in the rural Midwest. Experiencing the burden of racism among people who refused to accept that such a thing existed only made the isolation feel that much worse to Sheffield and his relatives. And yet, they overcame the obstacles and managed to persist: they got by.
A pathbreaking contribution to Latin American testimonial literature, When a Flower Is Reborn is activist Rosa Isolde Reuque Paillalef’s chronicle of her leadership within the Mapuche indigenous rights movement in Chile. Part personal reflection and part political autobiography, it is also the story of Reuque’s rediscovery of her own Mapuche identity through her political and human rights activism over the past quarter century. The questions posed to Reuque by her editor and translator, the distinguished historian Florencia Mallon, are included in the text, revealing both a lively exchange between two feminist intellectuals and much about the crafting of the testimonial itself. In addition, several conversations involving Reuque’s family members provide a counterpoint to her story, illustrating the variety of ways identity is created and understood.
A leading activist during the Pinochet dictatorship, Reuque—a woman, a Catholic, and a Christian Democrat—often felt like an outsider within the male-dominated, leftist Mapuche movement. This sense of herself as both participant and observer allows for Reuque’s trenchant, yet empathetic, critique of the Mapuche ethnic movement and of the policies regarding indigenous people implemented by Chile’s post-authoritarian government. After the 1990 transition to democratic rule, Reuque collaborated with the government in the creation of the Indigenous Development Corporation (CONADI) and the passage of the Indigenous Law of 1993. At the same time, her deepening critiques of sexism in Chilean society in general, and the Mapuche movement in particular, inspired her to found the first Mapuche feminist organization and participate in the 1996 International Women’s Conference in Beijing. Critical of the democratic government’s inability to effectively address indigenous demands, Reuque reflects on the history of Mapuche activism, including its disarray in the early 1990s and resurgence toward the end of the decade, and relates her hopes for the future.
An important reinvention of the testimonial genre for Latin America’s post-authoritarian, post-revolutionary era, When a Flower Is Reborn will appeal to those interested in Latin America, race and ethnicity, indigenous people’s movements, women and gender, and oral history and ethnography.