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Shared Space

Shared Space

James S. Griffith
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 224
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  • Book Info
    Shared Space
    Book Description:

    Where it divides Arizona and Sonora, the international boundary between Mexico and the United States is both a political reality, literally expressed by a fence, and, to a considerable degree, a cultural illusion. Mexican, Anglo, and Native American cultures straddle the fence; people of various ethnic backgrounds move back and forth across the artificial divide, despite increasing obstacles to free movement. On either side is found a complex cultural mix of ethnic, religious, and occupational groups. In A Shared Space James Griffith examines many of the distinctive folk expressions of this varied cultural region.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-375-1
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: A Fence in the Desert
    (pp. 1-11)

    Southern Arizona is border country in a number of ways. In the first place, its southern boundary is also an international border, shared with the Mexican state of Sonora. The borderline, as well as the broader cultural zone of the border, are basic realities of life in southern Arizona and northern Sonora. But southern Arizona is itself a multicultural region with its own system of what one might call internal borders. It is home to several Indian nations: the Quechans (formerly the Yuma), Cocopah, and Tohono O’odham or Desert People (formerly the Papago Indians) who have lived here for time...

  2. Chapter 1 Respect and Continuity: The Arts of Death in a Border Community
    (pp. 13-34)

    Nogales, Arizona, and its twin city of Nogales, Sonora, lie along the international border approximately 60 miles south of Tucson. Founded in 1880, Ambos Nogales (Both Nogaleses), as the two cities together are frequently called, comprises the most important border community between El Paso/Ciudad Juarez to the east and Calexico/ Mexicali to the west. With an estimated population of 200,000, Nogales, Sonora, is by far the larger of the two. Its rapid growth is fueled by the various opportunities for personal advancement presented by the inequalities of the two economic systems that meet along the border. In addition to normal...

  3. Chapter 2 The Magdalena Holy Picture: Religious Folk Art in Two Cultures
    (pp. 35-54)

    Magdalena de Kino lies just off Mexican Highway 15, about sixty miles south of the Arizona-Sonora border. It was transformed from an O’odham village into a mission community by Father Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J. An Italian Tyrolese by birth, Kino joined the Jesuit order after a serious illness during his student days in Hall, Austria. He subsequently came to Mexico, and in 1687 became the first missionary to work in the area of the Pimería Alta. He died in March, 1711, and was buried in Magdalena. When his remains were discovered by a binational archaeological team in 1966, the honorific...

  4. Chapter 3 Cascarones: A Florescent Folk Art Form in Southern Arizona
    (pp. 55-66)

    Cascarón is Spanish for “eggshell.” The word is related to cascara, a “shell” or “outer covering,” and to the verb cascar, “to break or shatter.” In traditional Mexican culture, cascarón also refers to eggshells which have been emptied of their contents and then refilled with confetti. They are intended to be broken over the heads of fiesta or party goers, adding to the festive ambiente, or atmosphere, of the occasion.

    Cascarones have been a part of Mexican culture since at least the early nineteenth century. The earliest accounts I am aware of describe them being used at Carnival, that time...

  5. Chapter 4 El Tiradito and Juan Soldado: Two Victim Intercessors of the Western Borderlands
    (pp. 67-86)

    Next door to a Mexican restaurant, in one of Tucson’s oldest surviving barrios, an adobe wall stands at the end of a vacant lot. A metal plaque in English and Spanish announces this to be a National Historic Landmark. It is El Tiradito, “The only shrine in the United States dedicated to the soul of a sinner buried in unconsecrated ground.” El tiradito is Spanish for “The Little Cast-away One,” and refers both to the site and to the legendary person or persons said to have been buried there. (In this essay, I shall distinguish between person and place by...

  6. Chapter 5 The Black Christ of Ímuris: A Study in Cultural Fit
    (pp. 87-107)

    Ímuris, Sonora, lies about forty miles south of the border city of Nogales, on Mexican Highway 15. It is a junction town. Mexican Highway 2 splits off at Ímuris and heads east to the mining town of Cananea, the border community of Agua Prieta, and beyond, into the state of Chihuahua. Highway 15 continues south to Magdalena de Kino, Santa Ana, the state capitol of Hermosillo, and eventually all the way to Mexico City. Ímuris is an agricultural town as well, with rich fields along the valley of the Río Magdalena, and cattle grazing in the hills and valleys round...

  7. Chapter 6 “The Mormon Cowboy:” An Arizona Cowboy Song and its Community
    (pp. 109-122)

    On 13 October, 1929, a Texas cowboy singer named Carl T. Sprague stepped up to a microphone in a Victor recording studio in Dallas and performed a song which he called “The Mormon Cowboy.”² Sprague was no stranger to the recording process. Inspired by the success of Vernon Dalhart’s 1924 recording of “The Prisoner’s Song,” he had appeared at the Victor offices in Camden, New Jersey, in August 1925 with his guitar and a collection of Texas songs, including some fine cowboy ballads. This was his fourth, and, though he did not know it, his last Victor recording session.³ Here...

  8. Chapter 7 Leonardo Yañez and “El Moro de Cumpas:” A Borderlands Horse-Race Ballad and its Composer
    (pp. 123-145)

    Horses are potent symbols in Mexican culture. Their importance began early in the sixteenth century, when the presence of horses often tipped the military scales in encounters between small numbers of Spanish soldiers and huge native armies. In his eyewitness account of the conquest of Mexico, the old soldier Bernal Díaz del Castillo interrupts his narrative early on to list by gender, color, qualities, and owner every one of the 16 horses that the expedition took with them, remarking that they would have taken more, except that horses were worth their weight in gold at that time in Cuba, the...

  9. Chapter 8 Baroque Principles of Organization in Contemporary Mexican American Arizona
    (pp. 147-164)

    The eighteenth-century mission church of San Xavier del Bac stands some twelve miles south of Tucson, Arizona, on the San Xavier District of the Tohono O’odham Reservation.² Finished in 1797, it is the most nearly complete Spanish colonial baroque architectural ensemble in the continental United States.

    Begun around 1778 under the direction of Father Juan Bautista Velderrain, O.F.M., the church was completed by his successor, Father Juan Bautista Llorenz, O.F.M., after Velderrain’s death.³ The church is remarkable for its state of preservation: almost every statue and mural painting that it contained at the time of its dedication is still in...

  10. A Few Final Words
    (pp. 165-168)

    What can be said in conclusion to this collection of disparate essays? Perhaps not much needs to be said; each essay stands alone as a treatment of a specific aspect of the rich folklife of the Arizona-Sonora borderlands. However, certain patterns emerge, and perhaps it is worth noting them once more.

    In the first place, this is a region of strong continuities. Not only does Mission San Xavier del Bac still stand relatively unchanged since 1797, but also the organizational principles that governed its decoration are still powerful forces in the life of contemporary Mexican Americans in the region, two...