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Other titles in the University of Houston Series in Mexican American Studies series:
University of Houston Series in Mexican American Studies #5: Cemeteries of Ambivalent Desire: Unearthing Deep South Narratives from a Texas Graveyardby Marie Theresa Hernandez
Synopses & Reviews
Growing up as the daughter of a funeral director in Fort Bend County, Texas, Marie Theresa Hernand#225;ndez was a frequent visitor to the San Isidro Cemetery, a burial place for Latino workers at the Imperial Sugar Company, based in nearby Sugar Land. During these years she acquired from her father and mother a sense of what it was like to live as an ethnic minority in Jim Crow Texas. Therefore, returning to the cemetery as an ethnographer offered Hernand#225;ndez a welcome opportunity to begin piecing together a narrative of the lives and struggles of the Mexican American community that formed her heritage.
However, Hernand#225;ndez soon realized that San Isidro contained hidden depths. The cemetery was built on the former grounds of an old slave-owning plantation. Her story quickly burgeoned from one of immigrant laborers working the land of the giant sugar company to one of the slave laborers who had worked the sugar plantations decades before, but whose history had been largely wiped out of the narrative of the affluent, white-majority county. Much like an archeologist, Hernand#225;ndez began carefully brushing away layers of time to reveal the fragile, entombed remnants of a complex, unknown past.
A professional photographer as well as a scholar, Hernand#225;ndez provides visual images to spur the readerand#8217;s imagination and anchor the narrative in historical reality. She mines interviews, newspaper accounts, and other primary sourcesand#151;interpreted through her own rich sense of place and timeand#151;to reconstruct the identity of a community where the Old South, the wealthy New South, and the culture from south of the border all comingle to form an almost iconic symbol for todayand#8217;s America.
In this complex and nuanced, self-reflexive ethnography, Hernand#225;ndez interweaves personal memory and group history, ethnic experience and class . . . even death and life.
About the Author
MARIE THERESA HERNand#193;NDEZ is an associate professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Languages at the University of Houston. She is also the author of Delirioand#151;the Fantastic, the Demonic, and the Rand#233;el: The Buried History of Nuevo Leand#243;n.
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