Américo Paredes (1915–99) is one of the seminal figures in Mexican American studies. With this first book-length biography of Paredes, author José R. López Morín offers fresh insight into the life and work of this influential scholar, as well as the close relationship between his experience and his thought.
Morín shows how Mexican literary traditions—particularly the performance contexts of oral “literature”—shaped Paredes’s understanding of his people and his critique of Anglo scholars’ portrayal of Mexican American history, character, and cultural expressions.
Although he surveys all of Paredes’s work, Morín focuses most heavily on his masterpiece, With a Pistol in His Hand. It is in this book that Morín sees Paredes’s innovative interdisciplinary approach most effectively expressed. Dealing as he did with a people at the intersection of cultures, Paredes considered the intersection of disciplines a necessary locus for clear understanding. Morín traces the evolution of Paredes’s thought and his battles to create a legitimate home for his approach at the University of Texas.
A voice for Chicano consciousness in the late 1960s and thereafter, Paredes championed Mexican American studies and encouraged a generation of scholars to consider this culture a legitimate topic for research. Urging the application of context to the understanding of oral texts, he challenged then-current methods of folklore and anthropological study in general.
Paredes’s name will continue to resonate in Mexican American studies, American folklore, and Anthropology, and his work will continue to be studied. Américo Paredes: Folklorist of the Border makes a strong case for the lasting importance of Paredes’s work, especially for a new generation of scholars.
JOSÉ MORÍN is an associate professor of Chicana and Chicano studies at California State University–Dominguez Hills. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of California–Los Angeles in Hispanic languages and literatures. “Américo Paredes was indeed a man from the border, finely attuned to the generative power of those ambiguous zones between countries, languages, disciplines, and genres that he inhabited throughout his life. It is no easy task to chart the complex cartography of Don Américo’s life and work, and José López Morín has given us an illuminating guide to this great scholar’s personal and intellectual journey. Morín’s insistence on the importance of performance in Paredes’s thought is especially astute, among the host of critical insights he offers in his book.”—Richard Bauman, Indiana University.
What Readers Are Saying:
“This book is best used by anthropologists and folklorists, but students in Chicano studies would find it useful as well . . . Morin’s analysis of social science and literary perspectives is solid. The humanity Paredes displayed, eloquently captured by Morin, makes this book important.”--Carlos F. Ortega
“This book is best used by anthropologists and folklorists, but students in Chicano studies would find it useful as well . . . Morin’s analysis of social science and literary perspectives is solid. The humanity Paredes displayed, eloquently captured by Morin, makes this book important.” --Carlos F. Ortega