Montiel, Miguel, Tomas Atencio, and E.A. "Tony" Mares. Resolana: Emerging Chicano Dialogues on Community and Globalization.
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Subject:||Books (Book reviews)|
|Publication:||Name: International Social Science Review Publisher: Pi Gamma Mu Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Social sciences Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Pi Gamma Mu ISSN: 0278-2308|
|Issue:||Date: Spring-Summer, 2011 Source Volume: 86 Source Issue: 1-2|
|Topic:||NamedWork: Resolana: Emerging Chicano Dialogues on Community and Globalization (Nonfiction work)|
|Persons:||Reviewee: Montiel, Miguel; Atencio, Tomas; Mares, E.A.|
Montiel, Miguel, Tomas Atencio, and E.A. "Tony" Mares.
Resolana: Emerging Chicano Dialogues on Community and Globalization.
Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2009. xiv + 224 pages. Paper,
Resolana is a Spanish term derived from resol, the reflection of the sun. Used for centuries in northern New Mexico, the term often refers to the sunny side of buildings where meetings take place. For the three authors of this book, resolana refers to both a place and a process: a gathering place for serious dialogue and a process of understanding at a higher level. Despite their strong academic backgrounds, they maintain that wisdom generated through resolana is not unique to the highly educated and is improved through everyday community dialogue and critique. Their essays, one primarily rural, one urban, and one more international, view resolana as a cross-cultural solution to globalization's effect on historical culture and traditional knowledge.
Sociologist Tomas Atencio uses his essay to describe the socioeconomic history of his home region, northern New Mexico. The everyday cultural customs and heritage of the region, dominated by Indo-Hispanic subsistence agriculture since the 1500s, have changed through the introduction of the railroad in the 1880s and then a leap into the information/ service economy centered around technology (Los Alamos Laboratory) and tourism (e.g., Santa Fe, Taos). This change has left long-standing residents behind as highly educated, wealthy Anglos move into the region. Traditional village values of reciprocity, sharing, communalism, harmony with nature, and honor have declined as production was severed from consumption and extended family networks altered.
Atencio describes attempts to revitalize some of these community values. Such efforts include 1970s projects in his hometown of Dixon, where a downtown building was converted to La Academia de la Nueva Raza (Academy of the New Race), designed as a kind of Plato's Academy for Hispanics. This effort reconnected communities with storytelling by local elders, included in a local journal, Entre Verde y Seco (Between Green and Dry). La Academia also extracted parts of community exchanges and included them in the newsletter La Madrugada (The Dawn). La Resolana, a one-page flyer dropped off in bars, also cited Entre Verde y Seco. Thus, local issues were refined by traditional community discussion. Such movements revive what the French philosopher, sociologist, and historian Michel Foucault calls subjugated knowledge, which Atencio refers to as "el oro del barrio" ("the gold of the neighborhood"). Recovering traditional knowledge validates Brazilian educator and influential theorist of critical pedagogy Paolo Freire's "praxis" learning or everyday life experience. Freire visited the resolana project and left with a positive impression.
Atencio provides an example of economist Robert Theobald's call for new post-industrial institutions in the current Resolana Service Learning Documentation Center, a community library that documents and incorporates traditional knowledge into internal and outreach activities. Echoing the sentiments of Thomas Abt's Progress without Loss of Soul (1989) or Bill McKibben's Deep Economy (2007), Atencio's ultimate goal is a "la vida buenay sanay alegre," a good, healthy, joyful life based on broad values. He sees a future "non zero-sum world" where the benefits of globalization are not perfectly offset by the same amount of losses. Atencio writes from a personal sense of place or "querencia"--his story starts off with him carrying a folder of local family documents dating back to the 1700s.
In his essay, Miguel Montiel, a professor of Southwest Borderland Studies at Arizona State University, summarizes interviews with urban Hispanics who overcame adverse life situations to assume leadership positions in business, education, and politics. Adversity includes loss of close family members but also clear discrimination by the Anglo majority. Most leaders interviewed were not embittered. Tragedy is transformed into personal power; they take responsibility and do not blame others for circumstances, avoiding the expression "yo pobrecito" ("poor little me"). The younger Hispanic generation is often too busy building careers and families to become leaders. There is a need to mentor selfless leadership. Chicanas often look to men and do not always support other women leaders. The new leaders are more likely to come from newer immigrants. Hispanic political participation is limited by a perception that little difference exists between two parties and cynical experience with political corruption in Mexico.
The diverse, sometimes fragmented nature of Hispanics is discussed--second generation Chicanos versus Mexican immigrants living in the United States versus Central and South Americans. Mexican nationals can feel like outsiders among Chicanos. Northern New Mexicans emphasized they were Spanish and not Mexican. Educated Mexicans had a more solid identity to deal with adversity than less-educated, second generation urban Chicanos losing Spanish. The individualistic culture of the United States tends to dilute Chicano tribalism. There is a need to validate youth and their past, a need to strike a balance between culture and career, between what New York Times foreign affairs correspondent Thomas Friedman refers to as the "Lexus and the Olive Tree." Hispanics will soon lose minority status and should not act like others did toward them.
Tony Mares's essay focuses on network analysis and the idea that even weak horizontal links between various communities can be transformative and eclipse hierarchical power. Networks can also be vertical (historical) and partially maintained through stories. Mares, a professor emeritus of English at the University of New Mexico, contrasts cultural preservation (museums) with the process of living, expanding, and interacting with other cultures. He notes that small town resolanas may sound romantic but they are very real networks; they are a highly connected hub of individuals, acting much like an airport hub. Mares's essay, the more readable of the three, also addresses leading conservative theorists such as Francis Fukuyama (American triumphalism) and Samuel E Huntington (Western defensiveness), who, for him, do not provide adequate theories for positive engagement with Indo-Hispanics and other cultures.
So much of white society is embedded in globalization that it is easy to accept Friedman's positive outlook on the process and miss its cultural impact because of clear advances in developing nations and technology. Freire's work was recently cited in an Arizona state bill as one of several reasons to cancel a Hispanic ethnic studies class. It is not easy to see clearly across cultural boundaries, but resolana offers stories that can help. This is not a defense of a self-pitying, uniform Hispanic culture, but a proposal for vertical and horizontal cross-cultural networking. Atencio sees resolana as having both site-specific and universal properties. Mares concludes with the notion that, although a new communal citizen is a utopian myth, one can partly realize that utopia. La vida buena y sana y alegre, highlighted by resolana, can be an important part of that realization.
William Forbes, PhD
Assistant Professor of Geography
Stephen F. Austin State University
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