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New book explores the Mexican national and Mexican American experience

By Angela Covo
La Prensa

SAN ANTONIO — A new book, prepared and written by local scholars, explores the Mexican national and Mexican American experience vis a vis culture, art and political attitudes and tells the tale of two Mexicos, putting into words what many of Hispanic heritage intuitively understand and live every day.

Five years in the making, a new work by local scholars explores how Mexican culture transcends national borders, creating in effect, two Mexicos.

Trinity University Assistant Spanish Professor Rosana Blanco-Cano and Associate Spanish Professor Rita E. Urquijo-Ruiz co-edited the benchmark tome “Global Mexican Cultural Productions,” which was born out of a Trinity Lennox Seminar entitled “Cultural Transgressions of the Immediate Kind: The Cultural Production of the Transnational Mexican Communities.”

The Lennox Seminar program provided $25,000 toward the research and coordination of the tome that marks the existence of the two Mexicos: a political one bounded by geography and a cultural one with limitless borders.

At the book signing at Trinity University last week, Arturo Madrid, the Murchison Distinguished Professor of Humanities, explained this book was a significant accomplishment because it was the first time a publication was produced by the Lennox Seminar program.

In the foreword, Madrid wrote, “This volume is a compilation of the presentations made as part of that seminar and constitutes a pioneering and provocative discussion and analysis of a vital, dynamic, and significant cultural phenomenon.”

That cultural phenomenon breaks through borders and touches not just the border communities, but all of America, if not the world. Madrid explained the notion of being from this side, “de este lado,” came to define the transnational population – those Mexicans who had been on the land before borders, such as those established in 1848, defined who they were. This population continued to honor their Mexican culture, but now, they were Americans.

To further complicate the issue, more Mexican nationals would cross the border as a function of the demand for labor or as a consequence of economic and political displacement, as happened during the Mexican Revolution at the turn of the 20th century.

Renowned scholar and professor Tomas Ybarra-Frausto, also a contributor to the book, said this volume is significant because it was intergenerational.

“When I first became a professor, we studied only peninsular literature (from Spain) – then we started to open the field to Latin American authors,” he explained. “I was of the younger generation then and helped open the door to Chicano studies.”

“These two editors represent the newest generation of academics,” Ybarra-Frausto noted.

The professor explained the youth and gender of the editors would help bring greater understanding and continue to evolve and refine the studies, particularly as they relate to the Mexican experience, “from transnational to global citizens.”

The panel at the signing, including UTSA professor and author Norma Cantú, Ybarra-Frausto, artist David Zamora-Casas, Madrid and the editors agreed this was a celebration of Mexican American Studies at Trinity becuase the project succeeded in adding a missing piece. They noted…

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