Michael Trujillo will be at the UNM Bookstore on Thursday, Sept. 30 at 2 p.m. to discuss and sign copies of "Land of Disenchantment: Latina/o Identities and Transformations in Northern New Mexico" (UNM Press). Trujillo, an assistant professor in American Studies and Chicano/Hispano/Mexicano Studies, said the title was recently selected third by the Santa Fe Reporter's Best of Locally Authored Books. This event is free and open to the public.
The book has been touted for both for its scholarly depth and its honesty. Genaro Padilla, associate professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, said, "As an ethnographic study of the Española Valley it offers a searing account of the negative realities that trouble Nuevomexicanos: poverty, drugs, violence. And, yet, Trujillo probes into these social and material difficulties with a spirit that suggests how creativity, identity, and will to survive emerge from tragedy to produce a positive aesthetics of joking, storytelling, weaving, and cultural ritual that keeps people alive to their long history and to their dreams."
New Mexico's Española Valley lies in the northern part of the state, between the Sangre de Cristo and Jemez Mountains. Many of the valley's communities have roots in the Spanish and Mexican periods of colonization, while the Native American Pueblos of Ohkay Owingeh and Santa Clara are far older.
Trujillo's ethnography presents a vision of Española that addresses its denigration by neighbors—and some of its residents—because it represents the antithesis of the supposedly "positive" narrative of New Mexico. Contradicting the popular notion of New Mexico as the "Land of Enchantment," a fusion of race, landscape architecture, and food into a romanticized commodity, Trujillo probes beneath the surface to reveal the struggle and pain brought about by colonization and transition from a pastoral to an urban economy, as well as the limits of common ethnographic representations. Land of Disenchantment contains both Trujillo's original ethnography and his explorations of creative works by valley residents Policarpio Valencia, Jim Sagel, Teresa Archuleta and G. Benito Córdova.
Ben Chappell, assistant professor of American Studies at the University of Kansas, said, "Michael Trujillo shows exactly why the image of a ‘Land of Enchantment' does no favors for those whose lives are rendered invisible by such spells. Instead, he invites readers to draw close to the deep ambivalence that only begins to be understood when an observer is prepared to ‘tarry with the negative' and that manifests an imminent critique of the unjust circumstances of many Nuevomexicanos. Working against the limitations of ethnography, without dismissing its potential, Trujillo stretches American Studies and anthropology from within, in directions they need to move."
Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales, 277-5920; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org