On Agnès Varda, Winner of 2017 Honorary Oscar Award

by Rebecca J. DeRoo, author of Agnès Varda between Film, Photography and Art


French film director Agnès Varda will receive an honorary Oscar this November from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Which aspects of Varda’s career will the Academy celebrate? Her formidable directorial career spans from writing and directing her first film at age 25 to releasing her most recent film Faces, Places at age 89. Historically, critics have praised Varda as the innovative “mother” of the French New Wave film movement, with her first film, La Pointe Courte (1954), a precursor to the movement and Cleo from 5 to 7 (1961) made at the height of the New Wave. This identity has long overshadowed other parts of her career.

Cover image for Agnès Varda book
Available October 2017

More recently, scholars have recognized her as an essential feminist filmmaker. At the same time, Varda has continued to create new work, making films as well as multimedia art over the last two decades. And the Academy has the opportunity to celebrate Varda’s past and present work as even more innovative. Agnès Varda between Film, Photography, and Art shows that before Varda pursued cinema, she studied art history and practiced photography, and across her career, she has quietly yet subversively woven references to histories of art, photography, and film throughout her oeuvre. These references open out beyond the surface narrative of her work and engage contemporary cultural politics. This honorary Oscar recognizes Varda’s immense directorial accomplishments. But an interdisciplinary reading enables us to better appreciate the multidimensionality of Varda’s cinema and her career as both filmmaker and artist.


Art and cinema historian Rebecca J. DeRoo is an assistant professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology and co-curated the 2016 retrospective Agnès Varda: (Self)-Portraits, Facts and Fiction, at the George Eastman Museum.

 

 


Frederick Law Olmsted and Yosemite Valley

Excerpted from The Mountains That Remade America: How Sierra Nevada Geology Impacts Modern Life by Craig H. Jones

In June of 1864, with the Civil War raging and re-election uncertain, President Abraham Lincoln signed a relatively minor bill transferring Yosemite Valley to California to be held “inalienable” for “public use, resort, and recreation.” Governor Low provisionally accepted the grant shortly thereafter and named a commission to oversee the new park. He chose as the head of the commission Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect already known for work on New York’s Central Park but then acting as manager for the Las Mariposas estate in the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Olmsted attempted to describe Yosemite for others (especially the lawmakers who had not visited it but would soon vote on accepting the park and funding it). First noting the great cliffs, the waterfalls, the broad meadows, and the qualities of the light and climate, he came to the essence of Yosemite:

There are falls of water elsewhere finer, there are more stupendous rocks, more beetling cliffs, there are deeper and more awful chasms, there may be as beautiful streams, as lovely meadows, there are larger trees. It is in no scene or scenes the charm consists, but in the miles of scenery where cliffs of awful height and rocks of vast magnitude and of varied and exquisite coloring, are banked and fringed and draped and shadowed by the tender foliage of noble and lovely trees and bushes, reflected from the most placid pools, and associated with the most tranquil meadows, the most playful streams, and every variety of soft and peaceful pastoral beauty.

The union of the deepest sublimity with the deepest beauty of nature, not in one feature or another, not in one part or one scene or another, not in any landscape that can be framed by itself, but all around and wherever the visitor goes, constitutes the Yosemite the greatest glory of nature.

The essence of the physical landscape was the juxtaposition of the steep cliffs with the flat valley floor. In numerous areas, the flat floor of the valley comes right to the base of the soaring cliffs, and through this valley the Merced River lazes its way along in view of the majestic falls. As Olmsted noted, other places had the same ingredients; Yosemite stood apart in the assembly of the parts.

If we ask what geologic process made Yosemite unique, the answer would have to be glaciers acting on very heterogeneous granitic rocks. Yosemite’s special nature relies on the far greater depth the glaciers cut compared with the other “yosemites,” (the other deep glacial canyons of the Sierra) and this was made possible by the vulnerabilities of its complex geology. While California’s state geologist Josiah Whitney was therefore unquestionably wrong in arguing that Yosemite was created by faulting and John Muir, despite exaggeration, correct in identifying glaciers as the valley’s sculptors, neither fully traced back Yosemite’s origin to its roots. The awe-inspiring Yosemite Valley existed—and could serve as the template for the most extensive national park system in the world—because of the accident of many chemically different bodies of granitic rock coinciding with the right elevation in the Sierra Nevada where glaciers could carve a massive, steep-walled valley.


Craig H. Jones is Professor of Geological Sciences and Fellow with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published peer-reviewed research in ScienceNature, and prominent earth-science journals, and he is also the coauthor of Introduction to Applied Geophysics. He blogs as the Grumpy Geophysicist.


Student History is Written in the Streets

by Heather Vrana, author of This City Belongs to You: A History of Student Activism in Guatemala, 1944-1996

A nation-wide strike is set for Wednesday, September 20 in Guatemala. Last week, Guatemala’s Congress voted 104 to 25 against repealing the immunity that protects President Jimmy Morales from investigations into charges of corruption during his 2015 presidential campaign. For weeks, protestors had gathered outside of various government offices, chanting, “Iván stays, Jimmy goes” and “Student: history is written in the streets.” The vote dealt a huge blow to those who have worked for decades to fight a deep-rooted system of impunity that defends the powerful in spite of truth and reconciliation commissions, human rights tribunals, and international pressure. The great irony is that although Morales ran as the anti-corruption candidate (his slogan was “Ni corrupto, ni ladrón”), much of his presidency has been mired in controversy. What else can be expected of a man whose previous career required him to don outrageous—and often racist—costumes? Morales’ comedy career prepared him well.

As one Guatemala City professional recently said to me, “we are accustomed to this.”

Yet, to be accustomed to corruption is not to accept it. On the contrary, what has been so remarkable over the past few years is precisely the combative nature of Guatemala’s daily practice of politics.

In April and May 2015, thousands of Guatemalans began gathering on weekends in the Plaza de la Constitución to protest then president Otto Pérez Molina. It was an open secret that he was implicated in many deaths during the civil war and there was no greater symbol of impunity. By early September, the protestors were successful in removing Pérez Molina and his vice president from office. Such a thing had happened only once before in Guatemala’s history. Social media and news coverage of these electrifying days constantly referred to the protests of June and October 1944, when a wide alliance of popular groups and the military overthrew the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico.

My book, This City Belongs to You: A History of Student Activism in Guatemala, 1944-1996 begins with the university student organizing that led up to these massive protests. It follows several generations of students at Guatemala’s only public university, the Universidad de San Carlos (USAC). Each chapter explores how students engaged with the university as an institution as well as Guatemalan and (to a lesser extent) U.S. state apparatuses between 1944 and 1996, a period marked by revolution, counterrevolution, and civil war. Through these encounters, USAC students (called San Carlistas) forged a loose consensus around faith in the principles of liberalism, especially belief in equal liberty, the constitutional republic, political rights, and the responsibility of university students to lead the nation. I call this consensus student nationalism and trace how it became a defining feature of Guatemala’s middle class across the twentieth century.

This tradition of political involvement that comes to define the middle class is in no small way the condition of possibility for the ongoing protests we see today. Student nationalism was a shared project for identity-making, premised on the inclusions and exclusions of citizenship. It was less something one had or believed than a way of making political claims. It helped to bring San Carlistas into enduring fraternal bonds with their classmates as well as other citizens in a broad popular movement. As the civil war progressed and the military and police declared war on the university and the popular sector, student nationalism helped the opposition wage culture wars over historical memory.

Today, the protestors gathered in the streets are inheritors of San Carlistas’ traditions of struggle. They expect to protest when the government fails to fulfill its paltry promises to the people. The names of student, peasant, and union martyrs adorn their signs and t-shirts. While my book is a history of many generations of young people: their hopes, their actions, their role in social change; attempts to control them; their struggles against the government; and their encounters with the university as a state apparatus and a crucial site for resistance and celebration, the struggle in the streets today continues to evolve and become much, much bigger than this.


Heather Vrana is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Florida and the editor of Anti-Colonial Texts from Central American Student Movements 1929–1983.


3 Books That Go Beyond Borders for Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA

Kicking off this month throughout Southern California, Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA is a far-reaching and ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles. Led by the Getty, PST: LA/LA is a joint effort from more than 60 cultural institutions across the region, and UC Press is thrilled to be publishing three books in conjunction with this unprecedented collaboration. 

Learn more about each title and find out about related events below. #PSTLALA

The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in  Los Angeles 
Edited by Josh Kun

The Tide Was Always High gathers together essays, interviews, and analysis from leading academics, artists, journalists, and iconic Latin American musicians to explore the vibrant connections between Los Angeles and Latin America. From Hollywood film sets to recording studios, from vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, and from Carmen Miranda to Pérez Prado and Juan García Esquivel, Latin American musicians and music have helped shape Los Angeles culture since the birth of the city.

Related events: Musical Interventions, a series of six live musical events presented by author Josh Kun at multiple PST: LA/LA institutions. Details and more at tidewasalwayshigh.com. September 23 – December 2, 2017

And tune in for monthly playlists curated by editor Josh Kun.

Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America
Edited by Jesse Lerner & Luciano Piazza

Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo is the first comprehensive, United States–based film program and catalogue to treat the full breadth of Latin America’s vibrant experimental film production. The fully bilingual catalogue features major scholars and artists working across nationalities, mediums, and time periods. Lerner and Piazza assemble a mix of original content authored by key curators, scholars, and archivists from Latin America: eighteen essays and articles translated for the first time pertaining to the history of Latin American experimental film, historical image-documents that are fundamental to the history of experimental film in Latin America, and program notes from the exhibition’s programs.

Related events: In partnership with the Los Angeles Filmforum, a series of screenings will take place between September 2017 and January 2018. The first weekend of screenings will take place September 22–24 at REDCAT. See a complete calendar of events at www.ismismism.org.

California Mexicana
Missions to Murals, 1820–1930
Edited by Katherine Manthorne

California Mexicana focuses for the first time on the range and vitality of artistic traditions growing out of the unique amalgam of Mexican and American culture that evolved in Southern California from 1820 through 1930. A study of these early regional manifestations provides the essential matrix out of which emerge later art and cultural issues. Featuring painters, printmakers, photographers, and mapmakers from both sides of the border, this collection demonstrates how they made the Mexican presence visible in their art. This beautifully illustrated catalogue addresses two key areas of inquiry: how Mexico became California, and how the visual arts reflected the shifting identity that grew out of that transformation.

Related exhibition: California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820–1930 October 15, 2017 – January 14, 2018 at the Laguna Art Museum

 


Most Immigrants Are Women: Does the Trump Administration Want to Deport Them, or Just Keep Them Working for Low Wages?

By Laura Briggs, author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to Trump

It’s always been unclear whether the goal of the Trump White House was to limit the number of undocumented immigrants in this country, or just to terrorize them and keep them as vulnerable, underpaid workforce, and the recent debate about DACA underscores that fact.

Our economy relies on immigrant labor, and needs it to be cheap—and not just for the reasons most people think. The majority of immigrants to the United States, and nearly half the undocumented population are women, and many of them are doing household labor—cleaning, caring for children, elders, and others who cannot care for themselves. They’re not doing it so the rest of us can have more down time—far from it. On average, everybody is working more. As real wages have declined, the middle class has hung on by throwing more adults into the labor force, mostly women. In 1960, 20 percent of mothers worked. Today, 70 percent of U.S. children live in households where all the adults are employed. So who’s doing the household work? Business certainly has not picked up the tab; workers in the U.S. aren’t even guaranteed sick days, never mind childcare. We haven’t raised taxes for government to pay for it, either. Indeed, the most revealing moments in the debate over the Affordable Care Act repeal were when Republicans admitted that to get Medicaid costs down, sick elders needed to get out of nursing homes and go back to living with their families (read: daughters—Paul Ryan sure wasn’t planning to go part-time to care for his mother.)

So for the whole economic calculus to work—in which women must work, but get paid less than men (to the benefit of their employers), and we don’t raise taxes to pay for government programs, something had to give. This was the brilliance of the 1990s crackdown on undocumented immigrants: it ensured that there a class of women who could be paid even less than women who were citizens, at exactly the moment when the economy most needed them. During the Clinton administration, three key things happened. Walmart became the largest single employer in the country, owing much of their “efficiency” to women’s low wages. The controversy over Zöe Baird’s nomination as attorney general—“Nannygate”—launched a nationwide enforcement crackdown on immigrants without papers, beginning with the couple that Baird was sponsoring for green cards, Lillian and Victor Cordero. And the number of middle class households hiring nannies and housekeepers began to grow exponentially.

Immigration enforcement of the sort the U.S. has been doing since then doesn’t necessarily mean all undocumented immigrants get deported. It may just make them vulnerable, trapping people in exploitative jobs. One mother of triplets told the New York Times why she wanted to hire someone who was undocumented: “I want someone who cannot leave the country… who doesn’t know anyone in New York, who basically does not have a life. I want someone who is completely dependent on me.” While some households just wanted to employ someone who was reliable and “affordable,” others were abusive and even violent. A 2012 study of household workers in fourteen cities found abysmal working conditions, with many reporting sexual harassment, abuse, and assault. Among live-in nannies, many did not even have their own bed; they were expected to sleep with the children in their care. There was also widespread wage theft, with 67% earning less than minimum wage. While race was also a factor, the single best predictor of how much people got paid was immigration status, with undocumented workers earning the least.

There’s a surprisingly clear case to be made that the Trump administration, for all its sound and fury, is not terribly interested in deporting large numbers of people. It’s not only Donald Trump’s personal history of hiring undocumented workers—the fact that Trump Tower was built by people without papers and that his modeling agency relied on them—it’s also what’s happened since he took office. For one thing, when his transition team discovered that his pick for Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, had hired an undocumented household worker—the exact thing Zöe Baird went down for—they didn’t see it as disqualifying. Rather, they had Ross withhold the information until the last minute, in his tightly controlled confirmation hearing. Apparently, the administration was fine with having key positions held by people who were in favor of illegal immigration—at Commerce, at Labor (if they hadn’t been bested by Andrew Pudzer’s critics), and in the Oval Office itself.

Most significantly, the number of deportations under Trump has actually declined, and is on track to be lower than during any year of Obama’s presidency. Arrests and detentions have increased, to be sure. While Obama, the careful lawyer, restricted the actions of ICE to arrest and detain those most likely to be deported, the Trump administration has encouraged aggressive policing, creating terror, and a huge backlog of cases awaiting a hearing in immigration court. “When you go out and you arrest a whole bunch of people willy-nilly [an immigration judge] has got to fill his docket time hearing those arguments,” John Sandweg, acting director of ICE in 2013-14, told Politico. While it’s possible that more judges would mean more deportations, many of the people picked up are later released. In other words, it’s not yet clear whether this is a campaign to make immigrants afraid, or deport them.

This raises a question about all the back and forth about DACA: is the goal really to deport young people, or is it just to raise the flag that the administration is ambivalent about immigrants getting an education and a work permit, instead of remaining part of a permanent underclass of low-paid, illegal workers. One thing is clear: U.S. immigration policy has produced the largest exploitable, deterritorialized labor force since slavery times. Many of them are women, doing “women’s work.” Any effort at immigration reform—whether for the 1 million Dreamers or the estimated 10 million other undocumented immigrants—will have to take account of household and care work. Someone still has to watch the kids.


Laura Briggs is chair and professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the author of How All Politics Became Reproductive Politics: From Welfare Reform to Foreclosure to TrumphereRead the first chapter .

Watch Laura discuss her book’s thesis, economics, race, and family on last Sunday’s episode of The Open Mind on PBS.

 


Discussing Race and Ethnicity in America

This post is part of our blog series Integrate Current Events Into Your Courses, which aims to provide lecture topics and corresponding course books that will help your students think critically about today’s conversations on social inequality. Today, we discuss race, ethnicity, and class in America. 

Week by week, students see news headlines swing back and forth, from health care to immigration, from women’s rights to poverty, to much more. Their understanding of, and their personal feelings toward, these various issues can invoke strong responses as they have these conversations in class or on the quad. This is, in part, because their lens on the issues are influenced by race and ethnicity. How then do faculty guide students to have fruitful conversations on the issues that impact our lives today?

In Race and Ethnicity in America, sociologist and demographer John Iceland writes about where to start the conversation when guiding students to discuss race and ethnicity:

Discussing racial issues can be difficult. It is often more challenging than talking about many other sociological topics—such as changes in the occupational distribution of American workers or regional migration patterns—because race can be very personal. For many Americans, race is an important part of their identity. It affects how they view themselves, their aspirations, and their communities. …

These conversations about race are typically not that productive, as people are not really listening to one another. Their arguments, more generally speaking, also are often not based on empirical evidence and instead rely on anecdotes.

The goal of this book is to address this issue by providing such an empirical overview of patterns and trends in racial and ethnic inequality, as well as their causes and consequences. In doing so, I offer a social scientific basis for much-needed conversations about race. Having this kind of basic information is critical to reduce the extent to which people talk past one another with their own alleged facts accompanying their own opinions. Then people can be honest about their interests and values and recognize that these also play a key role in informing their policy preferences. In short, we need to cut through the clutter of empirical falsehoods to have real substantive discussions about racial inequality in the United States and what to do about it.

Read a sample chapter of Race and Ethnicity in America. And use these instructor resources to help prepare for your course. Feel free to see our other titles on race and class as well as other titles in the Sociology in the 21st Century Series.

How do you begin your discussions about race and ethnicity in your classes?


Classical Music Month: Celebrate with 30% Off

September is Classical Music Month. To celebrate, we’re offering 30% off our Classical Music titles.


 

Animation, Plasticity & Music in Italy, 1770–1830 by Ellen Lockhart

“This very innovative study illuminates such central categories of musical thought and practice as voice, gesture, performance, and the work. It will be read with much interest and pleasure not only by musicologists, but also by historians of dance, science, aesthetics, and philosophy, and by anybody who cares about the connections between music and the human body.”—Emanuele Senici, author of Landscape and Gender in Italian Opera

 

 

From 1989, or European Music and the Modernist Unconscious by Seth Brodsky

“Brilliantly written and argued, From 1989 is nothing less than a psychoanalysis of European musical modernism, and Brodsky, its nimble Lacanian analyst. Capacious, insightful, erudite, witty, paradoxical, and whip-smart, it is simply like nothing else in musicology today. It must be read.”—Brian Kane, author of Sound Unseen: Acousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice

 

 

Russian Music at Home and Abroad: New Essays by Richard Taruskin

“In surveying the continent of Russian music, Richard Taruskin has breathtakingly altered its scholarly appearance, displaying its arc in space as if through a telescope and its textures as if through a microscope. His new book casts a resolute and penetrating eye on contemporary Russia and the processes now underway there, which are shaping a new awareness of music within the cultural traditions that are at the heart of Russian spiritual life.”—Liudmila Koynatskaya, Saint Petersburg Conservatory

 

The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds by Martha Feldman (newly available in paperback)

“Rich in scholarship and filled with subtle analysis.” —Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books

“Meticulously researched, beautifully written and richly illustrated . . . In this book, as erudite as it is gripping, there is little to criticize.”—Cultural History

 

Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts by Pamela Potter

“[Potter’s] book unquestionably provides a ground-breaking historiographic foundation for understanding the mechanisms that stood behind the descriptions and analyses of the Third Reich and the cultural and artistic life of the Nazi state…. She raises significant questions related to myths about the unrestricted power of authoritarian and dictatorial regimes in all matters related to culture. And, most important, she hints at anti-democratic, authoritarian trends found in liberal and Western societies today where cultural life is ostensibly immune to intervention and coercion.”—Ha’aretz

 

The Thought of Music by Lawrence Kramer

“Kramer has been hugely successful in creating a community of formalist and hermeneutic analytical discourse that has inspired a new generation of thinkers to question music’s inherent meaning and value in contemporary society. . . a hugely important and timely work that should no doubt become the focus of much future work and pedagogy.”—Notes

 

 

Wagner, Schumann, and the Lessons of Beethoven’s Ninth by Christopher Alan Reynolds

“This is a multilayered book. It is on one level a formidable piece of forensic musical detective work displaying detailed critical understanding of the works in question through identification of influences and tracing of possible thematic cross-references across generic boundaries; on another it is a musically highly intelligent study of interactive compositional processes in the different but related guises of operatic and instrumental music.”—Music & Letters

 

Grand Opera: The Story of the Met by Charles and Mirella Affron

“This new history is an epic treat for the Metophile . . . an exhaustively researched, updated, thoughtful Met Opera history. The successive directors’ flaws and achievements are described with equanimity. It compellingly conveys the problems and the progress, the failures and the glories of the Metropolitan Opera.”—Carol L. Anderson, Wagner Notes

 


Save 30% with discount code 17W7196 (enter at checkout).

Browse more Classical Music titles on our site, or revisit content from last year’s #ClassicalMusicMonth blog series, including free downloads of related Open Access titles.


Coasts in Crisis: Plastic on the Shoreline

by Gary Griggs, author of Coasts in Crisis: A Global Challenge

An Earth-changing development took place in New York City in 1907 when plastic was first synthesized. It had all the right stuff for a huge range of uses: lightweight, flexible, strong, moisture resistant, relatively inexpensive, and a quality that has plagued us ever since, durability. This stuff just doesn’t break down or go away very quickly. Throughout the 20th century the development and use of new kinds of plastics and new products and uses proliferated rapidly.

I have spent much of my life studying beaches and coastlines and over 50 years ago I started collecting beach sands from my travels. Each one is unique and I think of them as the DNA or the fingerprint of some particular set of geologic and oceanographic conditions. I now have about 300 or so sand samples stored in glass vials and spread around on windowsills, bookshelves, and in frames, both at home and in my office.

My collection has gotten the attention of a number of friends over the years that now send or bring back beach sand from various far-flung places around the planet. A few years ago, a good friend who travels a lot, usually to coastlines that are often remote and difficult to get to, sent back beach sand samples from the Andaman Islands. This archipelago of 572 islands, many uninhabited, lies in the Indian Ocean, about 350 miles west of Myanmar and about 800 miles east of India.

These islands are not on any of the usual travel paths and are not easy to get to but my friend and his family were able to charter a boat and visit a number of these isolated islands and bring sand home. One of his emails included some beautiful pictures and then the words: “Sadly, although inhabited, and remote, the island was covered with plastic!”

The widespread use and then disposal of plastic as well as other debris has become an issue of global proportions. With the durability of plastic beverage bottles, plastic bags, detergent and food containers, we believe that about 60-80 percent of all marine debris in the ocean is plastic and it’s found on the beaches of every continent and from Iceland to Antarctica, sad but true.

Despite a growing effort to reduce plastic use and consumption, single-use plastic bags and water bottles in particular, globally we produce about 360 million tons of plastic annually, without about one-third of that going into disposable, single use items. Estimates are that about one percent is recycled globally, with most of the rest ending up in landfills, or often transported or blow into coastal waters.

While over a billion people around the world lack access to safe drinking water, they usually aren’t the ones consuming all of the bottled water. Americans, who are almost all fortunate to have very good quality and regularly tested tap water, consumed 9.7 billion gallons of bottled water in 2012. This water was guzzled from 103 billion single-use plastic bottles, or 3,250 bottles emptied every second, all year long. Despite the prevalence of recycling programs and convenient containers for disposal, only about 20% of the bottles are recycled and the rest are discarded, ending up in dumps or in some cases, the ocean or on our beaches.

While cleaning up beaches is helpful and beneficial, the ultimate solution to the problem of plastic proliferation along our shorelines and in the oceans of the world isn’t clean up and removal, but in prevention- cutting off or eliminating the plastic, Styrofoam and other marine debris at the sources. It means taking every action necessary to keep the trash from getting into our rivers, waterways and oceans to begin with.


Gary Griggs is Distinguished Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is author or coauthor of Introduction to California’s Beaches and CoastLiving with the Changing California CoastCalifornia Coast from the Air, The Santa Cruz Coast (Then and Now), and Our Ocean Backyard.


¡Celebra!: A National Hispanic Heritage Month Reading List

Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month! Each year from September 15 to October 15, we recognize and celebrate the heritage, the culture, and the contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

To showcase the unique history and experiences of Hispanic and Latino Americans and to recognize their vital place in our country’s culture, we have curated the following list of recommended titles. Be sure to check out last year’s reading list for more. Happy #HispanicHeritage Month, and happy reading!


La Nueva California: Latinos from Pioneers to Post-Millennials
David Hayes-Bautista

Since late 2001 more than fifty percent of the babies born in California have been Latino. When these babies reach adulthood, they will, by sheer force of numbers, influence the course of the Golden State. This essential study, based on decades of data, paints a vivid and energetic portrait of Latino society in California by providing a wealth of details about work ethic, family strengths, business establishments, and the surprisingly robust health profile that yields an average life expectancy for Latinos five years longer than that of the general population. Spanning one hundred years, this complex, fascinating analysis suggests that the future of Latinos in California will be neither complete assimilation nor unyielding separatism. Instead, the development of a distinctive regional identity will be based on Latino definitions of what it means to be American.

This updated edition now provides trend lines through the 2010 Census as well as information on the 1849 California Constitutional Convention and the ethnogenesis of how Latinos created the society of “Latinos de Estados Unidos” (Latinos in the US). In addition, two new chapters focus on Latino Post-Millennials—the first focusing on what it’s like to grow up in a digital world; and the second describing the contestation of Latinos at a national level and the dynamics that transnational relationships have on Latino Post-Millennials in Mexico and Central America.

 

The Other Side of Assimilation: How Immigrants Are Changing American Life
Tomas Jimenez (Author)

The immigration patterns of the last three decades have profoundly changed nearly every aspect of life in the United States. What do those changes mean for the most established Americans—those whose families have been in the country for multiple generations?

The Other Side of Assimilation shows that assimilation is not a one-way street. Jiménez explains how established Americans undergo their own assimilation in response to profound immigration-driven ethnic, racial, political, economic, and cultural shifts. Drawing on interviews with a race and class spectrum of established Americans in three different Silicon Valley cities, The Other Side of Assimilation illuminates how established Americans make sense of their experiences in immigrant-rich environments, in work, school, public interactions, romantic life, and leisure activities. With lucid prose, Jiménez reveals how immigration not only changes the American cityscape but also reshapes the United States by altering the outlooks and identities of its most established citizens.

 

Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Experimental Cinema in Latin America
Jesse Lerner (Editor), Luciano Piazza (Editor)

Ism, Ism, Ism / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo is the first comprehensive, United States–based film program and catalogue to treat the full breadth of Latin America’s vibrant experimental film production. The exhibition features key historical and contemporary films from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and the United States. From innovative works by Brazilian artist Hélio Oiticica and Mexican photographer Manuel Álvarez Bravo to the breathtaking yet practically unknown ouevre of queer Ecuadorian filmmaker Eduardo Solá Franco, the exhibition takes both the aficionado and the open-minded viewer on a journey into a wealth of materials culled from the forgotten corners of Latin American film archives. Equally unprecedented in its approach and scope, the accompanying fully bilingual catalogue features major scholars and artists working across nationalities, mediums, and time periods.

Published in association with the Los Angeles Filmforum, and as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

 

A New History of Modern Latin America
Lawrence A. Clayton (Author), Michael L. Conniff (Author), Susan M. Gauss (Author)

A New History of Modern Latin America provides an engaging and readable narrative history of the nations of Latin America from the Wars of Independence in the nineteenth century to the democratic turn in the twenty-first. This new edition of a well-known text has been revised and updated to include the most recent interpretations of major themes in the economic, social, and cultural history of the region to show the unity of the Latin America experience while exploring the diversity of the region’s geography, peoples, and cultures. It also presents substantial new material on women, gender, and race in the region. Each chapter begins with primary documents, offering glimpses into moments in history and setting the scene for the chapter, and concludes with timelines and key words to reinforce content. Discussion questions are included to help students with research assignments and papers.

Both professors and students will find its narrative, chronological approach a useful guide to the history of this important area of the world.

 

Assassination of a Saint: The Plot to Murder Óscar Romero and the Quest to Bring His Killers to Justice
Matt Eisenbrandt (Author)

On March 24, 1980, the assassination of El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero rocked that nation and the world. Despite the efforts of many in El Salvador and beyond, those responsible for Romero’s murder remained unpunished for their heinous crime. Assassination of a Saint is the thrilling story of an international team of lawyers, private investigators, and human-rights experts that fought to bring justice for the slain hero. Matt Eisenbrandt, a lawyer who was part of the investigative team, recounts in this gripping narrative how he and his colleagues interviewed eyewitnesses and former members of death squads while searching for evidence on those who financed them. As investigators worked toward the only court verdict ever reached for the murder of the martyred archbishop, they uncovered information with profound implications for El Salvador and the United States.

 

The Tide Was Always High: The Music of Latin America in Los Angeles
Josh Kun (Editor)

In 1980, the celebrated new wave band Blondie headed to Los Angeles to record a new album and along with it, the cover song “The Tide Is High,” originally written by Jamaican legend John Holt. Featuring percussion by Peruvian drummer and veteran LA session musician “Alex” Acuña, and with horns and violins that were pure LA mariachi by way of Mexico, “The Tide Is High” demonstrates just one of the ways in which Los Angeles and the music of Latin America have been intertwined since the birth of the city in the eighteenth century.

The Tide Was Always High gathers together essays, interviews, and analysis from leading academics, artists, journalists, and iconic Latin American musicians to explore the vibrant connections between Los Angeles and Latin America. Published in conjunction with the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, the book shows how Latin American musicians and music have helped shape the city’s culture—from Hollywood film sets to recording studios, from vaudeville theaters to Sunset Strip nightclubs, and from Carmen Miranda to Pérez Prado and Juan García Esquivel.

 

California Mexicana: Missions to Murals, 1820–1930
Katherine Manthorne (Editor)

Following the U.S.-Mexican War (1846–1848), lands that had for centuries belonged to New Spain, and later to Mexico, were transformed into the thirty-first state in the United States. This process was facilitated by visual artists, who forged distinct pictorial motifs and symbols to establish the state’s new identity. This collective cultural inheritance of the Spanish and Mexican periods forms a central current of California history but has been only sparingly studied by cultural and art historians. California Mexicana focuses for the first time on the range and vitality of artistic traditions growing out of the unique amalgam of Mexican and American culture that evolved in Southern California from 1820 through 1930. A study of these early regional manifestations provides the essential matrix out of which emerge later art and cultural issues. Featuring painters, printmakers, photographers, and mapmakers from both sides of the border, this collection demonstrates how they made the Mexican presence visible in their art. This beautifully illustrated catalogue addresses two key areas of inquiry: how Mexico became California, and how the visual arts reflected the shifting identity that grew out of that transformation.

Published in association with the Laguna Art Museum, and as part of the Getty’s Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA.

Exhibition dates:
Laguna Art Museum: October 15, 2017–January 14, 2018

 

In the Fields of the North / En los campos del norte
David Bacon (Author)

In this landmark work of photo-journalism, activist and photographer David Bacon documents the experiences of some of the hardest-working and most disenfranchised laborers in the country: the farmworkers who are responsible for making California “America’s breadbasket.” Combining haunting photographs with the voices of migrant farmworkers, Bacon offers three-dimensional portraits of laborers living under tarps, in trailer camps, and between countries, following jobs that last only for the harvesting season. He uncovers the inherent abuse in the labor contractor work system, and drives home the almost feudal nature of laboring in America’s fields.

Told in both English and Spanish, these are the stories of farmworkers exposed to extreme weather and pesticides, injured from years of working bent over for hours at a time, and treated as cheap labor. The stories in this book remind us that the food that appears on our dinner tables is the result of back-breaking labor, rampant exploitation, and powerful resilience.

 


The Other California: Land, Identity, and Politics on the Mexican Borderlands
Verónica Castillo-Muñoz (Author)

The Other California is the story of working-class communities and how they constituted the racially and ethnically diverse landscape of Baja California. Packed with new and transformative stories, the book examines the interplay of land reform and migratory labor on the peninsula from 1850 to 1954, as governments, foreign investors, and local communities shaped a vibrant and dynamic borderland alongside the booming cities of Tijuana, Mexicali, and Santa Rosalia. Migration and intermarriage between Mexican women and men from Asia, Europe, and the United States transformed Baja California into a multicultural society. Mixed-race families extended across national borders, forging new local communities, labor relations, and border politics.

 

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire
Matthew Robb (Editor)

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire examines new discoveries from the three main pyramids at the site—the Sun Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and, at the center of the Ciudadela complex, the Feathered Serpent Pyramid—which have fundamentally changed our understanding of the city’s history. With illustrations of the major objects from Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropología and from the museums and storage facilities of the Zona de Monumentos Arqueológicos de Teotihuacan, along with selected works from US and European collections, the catalogue examines these cultural artifacts to understand the roles that offerings of objects and programs of monumental sculpture and murals throughout the city played in the lives of Teotihuacan’s citizens.

Published in association with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Exhibition dates:
de Young, San Francisco, September 30, 2017–February 11, 2018
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), March–June 2018

 

Borderwall as Architecture: A Manifesto for the U.S.-Mexico Boundary
Ronald Rael

Borderwall as Architecture is an artistic and intellectual hand grenade of a book, and a timely re-examination of what the physical barrier that divides the United States of America from the United Mexican States is and could be. It is both a protest against the wall and a projection about its future. Through a series of propositions suggesting that the nearly seven hundred miles of wall is an opportunity for economic and social development along the border that encourages its conceptual and physical dismantling, the book takes readers on a journey along a wall that cuts through a “third nation”—the Divided States of America. Rael proposes that despite the intended use of the wall, which is to keep people out and away, the wall is instead an attractor, engaging both sides in a common dialogue. Included is a collection of reflections on the wall and its consequences by leading experts Michael Dear, Norma Iglesias-Prieto, Marcello Di Cintio, and Teddy Cruz.

 

The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail
Jason De Leon (Author), Michael Wells (Photographer)

In his gripping and provocative debut, anthropologist Jason De León sheds light on one of the most pressing political issues of our time—the human consequences of US immigration policy. The Land of Open Graves reveals the suffering and deaths that occur daily in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona as thousands of undocumented migrants attempt to cross the border from Mexico into the United States.

Drawing on the four major fields of anthropology, De León uses an innovative combination of ethnography, archaeology, linguistics, and forensic science to produce a scathing critique of “Prevention through Deterrence,” the federal border enforcement policy that encourages migrants to cross in areas characterized by extreme environmental conditions and high risk of death. For two decades, this policy has failed to deter border crossers while successfully turning the rugged terrain of southern Arizona into a killing field.

In harrowing detail, De León chronicles the journeys of people who have made dozens of attempts to cross the border and uncovers the stories of the objects and bodies left behind in the desert.

The Land of Open Graves will spark debate and controversy.

 

In Search of Soul: Hip-Hop, Literature, and Religion
Alejandro Nava (Author) 

In Search of Soul explores the meaning of “soul” in sacred and profane incarnations, from its biblical origins to its central place in the rich traditions of black and Latin history. Surveying the work of writers, artists, poets, musicians, philosophers and theologians, Alejandro Nava shows how their understandings of the “soul” revolve around narratives of justice, liberation, and spiritual redemption. He contends that biblical traditions and hip-hop emerged out of experiences of dispossession and oppression. Whether born in the ghettos of America or of the Roman Empire, hip-hop and Christianity have endured by giving voice to the persecuted. This book offers a view of soul in living color, as a breathing, suffering, dreaming thing.


Tune in: The Tide Was Always High Concert Series from September 23–December 2

“What does the relationship between Los Angeles and Latin America sound like?”

2016 MacArthur Fellow Josh Kun’s latest collection The Tide Was Always High gathers together essays, interviews, and analysis on the iconic Latin American musicians who helped shape L.A. culture—from Hollywood film sets to recording studios, vaudeville theaters to the Sunset Strip, and Carmen Miranda to Juan García Esquivel.

To celebrate these vibrant connections, Kun will debut “Musical Interventions,” a multi-part concert series at venues throughout L.A. in conjunction with Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA—the Getty’s effort to unite arts institutions across Southern California. To accompany the book and series, Kun has curated a monthly playlist of tunes related to his research, so listen up and read along with The Tide Was Always High. Order your copy now and save 30% with code 17M6662.

Musical Interventions 

Event details at tidewasalwayshigh.com


September 23, 2017: SONORAMA! Latin America in Hollywood—at The Getty Center

This outdoor dance concert will feature an electronic big band led by Mexico City’s Mexican Institute of Sound, with Sergio Mendoza (Orkestra Mendoza) and a crew of top local musicians helmed by percussionist Alberto López. They will interpret music written in, and for, Hollywood by the likes of Juan García Esquivel, Lalo Schifrin, Johnny Richards, Ary Barroso, and Maria Grever. Produced in partnership with the Getty.

October 7, 2017: Voice of the Xtabay: A Tribute to Yma Sumac—at Hammer Museum

A genre-bending roster of Los Angeles Latinx vocalists and musicians reimagine the songs of multi-octave Peruvian singer and Capitol Records recording star Yma Sumac. Inspired by the Hammer exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art 1960-1985, the evening features Empress Of, Nite Jewel, Maria Elena Altany, Ceci Bastida, Dorian Wood, Carmina Escobar, and Francisca Valenzuela. Produced in partnership with the Hammer Museum.

October 18, 2017: Playing With Fires: Chicano Batman Plays Carlos Almaraz—at LACMA

Celebrated Los Angeles band Chicano Batman will perform new music inspired by LACMA’s exhibition Playing with Fire: Paintings by Carlos Almaraz. Performance will take place in the exhibition gallery. Produced in partnership with LACMA.

October 26, 2017: Tonight at the Palace!: A Variedades Tribute—at The Downtown Palace Theatre

Inspired by classic Spanish-language variety shows held at downtown movie palaces such as the Million Dollar and the Palace, this imaginative evening features live music, dance, comedy and a screening of restored Spanish language Laurel and Hardy films. Hosted by Mexico City performer and writer Amandititita, the evening includes the Versa-Style Dance Company and music from La Familia Gonzalez de Los Angeles, and an all-star jam session with Abraham Laboriel, Paulinho Da Costa, Alex Acuña, and Justo Almario. Produced in partnership with USC’s Visions & Voices.

November 4, 2017: Guillermo Galindo’s Human Nature: A Cyber-Totemic Sonic Codex—at The Huntington 

The Huntington’s exhibition “Visual Voyages” will be complemented by an experimental sound installation and a one night only live performance, both by composer, musician, and artist Guillermo Galindo. Produced in partnership with The Huntington.

December 2, 2017: That Bad Donato: The L.A. Brazil Connection—at Royce Hall, UCLA

This special evening revisits the 1970 album by legendary Brazilian pianist, producer and arranger João Donato, A Bad Donato (recorded in L.A.), and other moments of “Brazil-in-L.A”. musical creativity. Inspired by the Fowler Museum at UCLA exhibition Axé Bahia: The Power of Art in an Afro-Brazilian Metropolis, the concert features performances by João Donato backed by Bixiga 70, and Bahia-raised Mateus Aleluia with L.A.-based Brazilian singer Thalma de Freitas. Produced in partnership with Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.

Kicking off this month throughout Southern California and running through January 2018 is Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA, an ambitious exploration of Latin American and Latino art in Los Angeles. Led by the Getty, PST: LA/LA is a joint effort of more than 70 cultural institutions, and UC Press is thrilled to be publishing three books in conjunction with this unprecedented collaboration. Learn more.

#PSTLALA // #TheTideWasAlwaysHigh