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Other titles in the Al Filo: Mexican American Studies series:
Americo Paredes: In His Own Words, an Authorized Biography (Al Filo: Mexican American Studies)
Synopses & Reviews
Amand#233;rico Paredes (1915-1999) was a folklorist, scholar, and professor at the University of Texas at Austin who is widely acknowledged as one of the founding scholars of Chicano Studies. Born in Brownsville, Texas, along the southern U.S.-Mexico Border, Paredesand#8217; early experiences impacted his writing during his later years as an academic. He grew up between two worldsand#8212;one written about in books, the other sung about in ballads and narrated in folktales. He attended a school system that emphasized conformity and Anglo values in a town whose population was 70 percent Mexican in origin.
During World War II, he worked for the International American Red Cross and wrote for the Stars and Stripes army newspaper in the Far East. He returned to Texas with a new bride and a passion for continuing his formal education and his writing. Paredes did both at the University of Texas at Austin, where he completed his Ph.D. in 1956. With the publication of his dissertation, and#8220;With His Pistol in His Handand#8221;: A Border Ballad and Its Hero in 1958, Paredes soon emerged as a challenger to the status quo. His book questioned the mythic nature of the Texas Rangers and provided an alternative counter-cultural narrative to the existing traditional narratives of Walter Prescott Webb and J. Frank Dobie, among others.
For the next forty years he was a brilliant teacher and prolific writer who championed the preservation of border culture and history. He was a soft-spoken, at times temperamental, yet fearless professor. He was a co-founder in 1970 of the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and is credited with introducing the concept of Greater Mexico, decades before its wider acceptance today among transnationalist scholars. He received numerous awards, including La Orden del Aguila Azteca, Mexicoand#8217;s most prestigious service award to a foreigner. Paredes became a scholar of scholars, guiding many students to become academic leaders.
Manuel F. Medrano interviewed Paredes over a five-year period before Paredesand#8217; death in 1999, and also interviewed his family and colleagues. For many Mexican Americans, Paredesand#8217; historical legacy is that he raised, carried, and defended their cultural flag with a dignity that both friends and foes respected.
Book News Annotation:
Medrano (history, U. of Texas at Brownsville) offers a biography of folklorist, scholar, and professor Américo Paredes (1915-1999), one of the founding scholars of Chicano studies. Drawing on interviews he conducted with Paredes before his death, and interviews with family and colleagues, Medrano recounts his childhood in Brownsville, Texas, along the US-Mexico border; his work for the International American Red Cross and the Stars and Stripes army newspaper in the Far East during World War II; and his teaching and scholarship at the U. of Texas at Austin and co-founding of the Center for Mexican American Studies there. A transcript of one of the interviews is included. Annotation Â©2010 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
MANUEL F. MEDRANO is a professor of history at the University of Texas at Brownsville and the coauthor of Medieval Culture and the Mexican American Borderlands and Charro Days in Brownsville. He has written three bilingual poetry books and has produced and directed Los del Valle, an oral history of Rio Grande Valley people. Medrano lives in Brownsville, TX.
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