Robert Con Davis-Undiano

 

Photo credit: Ray Leyva 

 

(USA)

 

 

 

Mestizos Come Home!

 

Preface

 

 

My original goal in writing Mestizos Come Home! was the relatively simple one of sharing with non-Latinos what Mexican Americans have accomplished since the 1960s. U.S. mainstream culture does not know what Mexican Americans have done in terms of acculturation, maintaining important aspects of their culture, and community building. I wanted the national culture to recognize these achievements and understand what Mexican Americans deal with every day. I soon found that any discussion of milestones led to engagement with the issues of race, gender, the representation of the Mexican American community to the larger culture, assimilation, identity, social justice, and underlying assumptions about Mesoamerican and European views of the human body and well-being. In focusing on the community’s successes, in short, I had to confront important questions that go to the heart of life in this hemisphere. The resulting book highlights Mexican Americans productively grappling with the most vexing and important issues of our time relating to who they are and how they fit into the U.S. mainstream.

 

Eduardo Galeano describes culture in the Americas as continually hobbled by “amnesia,” expressed most directly in a flawed sense of history. He notes that U.S. mainstream culture remains unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge the long-term impact of colonialism on mestizos and indigenous populations. This historical point of denial continues into the present even though the cultural gap it creates hampers everyone with a misleading sense of the hemisphere’s life and history. Like Rudolfo Anaya and Cherrie L. Moraga, Galeano sees the Americas as having a perennially disconnected sense of past and present and an obstructed view of how the history of the Americas is shaping and marginalizing mestizo lives today. He concludes with the warning that there is a wide-spread tendency in the region toward “detachment: [designed] to keep silenced people from asking questions, to keep the judged from judging, to keep solitary people from joining together, and the soul from putting together its pieces” (1991; 123). Many mestizos live with fractured “souls” and disempowered lives to the point that historical fragmentation and discontinuity have become virtual defining features of this region’s cultures. European victors have not only written the histories of the Americas but have stifled the rise of alternative, corrective challenges to colonial accounts of our past.

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

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BIO:

 

Born in Phoenix, Arizona in 1948, Robert Con Davis-Undiano is a third-generation Mexican American. He attended Cal-State University, East Bay, and the University of California, Davis, where he graduated in 1979 with a Ph.D.  He is Executive Director of the World Literature Today organization at the University of Oklahoma, holds the Neustadt Chair in Comparative Literature, and is Presidential Professor of English. 

At the University of Oklahoma, he has received the Rufus G. Hall Faculty Achievement Award, the Kenneth E. Crook Annual Faculty Award, the Sullivant Award for Perceptivity, and many student-generated awards—including Faculty of the Year—for his work with Latino students. Part of the leadership of the OU College of Liberal Studies and the National Conference on Race and Ethnicity (NCORE), he also directs OU’s Latinx Studies program.  He has published many books and essays, including The Paternal Romance:  Reading God-the-Father in Early Western Culture (1993).

Davis-Undiano serves on numerous national editorial and advisory boards and is general editor of the Chicano & Chicana Visions of the Américas book series at the University of Oklahoma Press. He currently hosts Current Conversations, a radio and television interview program sponsored by OU, that is broadcast throughout Oklahoma.

 

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