ARB Recommends: From the University of Arizona Press Fall 2020 Catalog

ARB Recommends is a regular column of ARB that covers seasonal catalogs from indie, trade, and academic publishers, highlighting the kinds of books our editors, contributors, and readers want to read. As a publication devoted to radical critical engagement with the world—and devoted to reviewing books and media that do this—it only makes sense for ARB to support publishers by showcasing the work they and their authors do.

AB Recommends also serves as a “what to review” guide for those interested in contributing to ARB. Like what you see here? Reach out to us to review it!


This entry of ARB Recommends takes a look at the Fall 2020 catalog for the University of Arizona Press. Arizona is a specialist in regional Southwest studies, indigenous studies, and Latinx studies, among other things. The below titles represent the best of these specialties.

The full fall 2020 University of Arizona Press catalog can be downloaded here. Click the book images below for links to buy.


Horsefly Dress: Poems

Heather Cahoon
September 2020 / $16.95 / 88 pp.

Horsefly Dress is a meditation on the experience and beauty of suffering, questioning its triggers and ultimate purpose through the lens of historical and contemporary interactions and complications of Séliš, Qĺispé, and Christian beliefs. Heather Cahoon’s collection explores dark truths about the world through first-person experiences, as well as the experiences of her family and larger tribal community. As a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Cahoon crafts poems that recount traditional stories and confront Coyote’s transformation of the world, including his decision to leave certain evils present, such as cruelty, greed, hunger, and death.

By weaving together stories of Cahoon’s family and tribal community with those of Coyote and his family, especially Coyote’s daughter, Horsefly Dress, the interactions and shared experiences show the continued relevance of traditional Séliš and Qĺispé culture to contemporary life. Rich in the imagery of autumnal foliage, migrating birds, and frozen landscapes, Horsefly Dress calls forth the sensory experience of grief and transformation. As the stories and poems reveal, the transformative powers associated with the human experience of loss belong to the past, present, and future, as do the traditional Salish-Pend d’Oreille stories that create the backbone of this intricate collection.

Decolonizing Latinx Masculinities

Arturo J. Aldama and Frederick Luis Aldama, editors
September 2020 / $35 / 352 pp.

Latinx hypersexualized lovers or kingpin predators pulsate from our TVs, smartphones, and Hollywood movie screens. Tweets from the executive office brand Latinxs as bad-hombre hordes and marauding rapists and traffickers. A-list Anglo historical figures like Billy the Kid haunt us with their toxic masculinities. These are the themes creatively explored by the eighteen contributors in Decolonizing Latinx Masculinities.

Together they explore how legacies of colonization and capitalist exploitation and oppression have created toxic forms of masculinity that continue to suffocate our existence as Latinxs. And while the authors seek to identify all cultural phenomena that collectively create reductive, destructive, and toxic constructions of masculinity that traffic in misogyny and homophobia, they also uncover the many spaces—such as Xicanx-Indígena languages, resistant food cultures, music performances, and queer Latinx rodeo practices—where Latinx communities can and do exhale healing masculinities.

With unity of heart and mind, the creative and the scholarly, Decolonizing Latinx Masculinities opens wide its arms to all non-binary, decolonial masculinities today to grow a stronger, resilient, and more compassionate new generation of Latinxs tomorrow.

Whale Snow: Iñupiat, Climate Change, and Multispecies Resilience in Arctic Alaska

Chie Sakakibara
October 2020 / $35 / 304 pp.

As a mythical creature, the whale has been responsible for many transformations in the world. It is an enchanting being that humans have long felt a connection to. In the contemporary environmental imagination, whales are charismatic megafauna feeding our environmentalism and aspirations for a better and more sustainable future.

Using multispecies ethnography, Whale Snow explores how everyday the relatedness of the Iñupiat of Arctic Alaska and the bowhead whale forms and transforms “the human” through their encounters with modernity. Whale Snow shows how the people live in the world that intersects with other beings, how these connections came into being, and, most importantly, how such intimate and intense relations help humans survive the social challenges incurred by climate change. In this time of ecological transition, exploring multispecies relatedness is crucial as it keeps social capacities to adapt relational, elastic, and resilient.

In the Arctic, climate, culture, and human resilience are connected through bowhead whaling. In Whale Snow we see how climate change disrupts this ancient practice and, in the process, affects a vital expression of Indigenous sovereignty. Ultimately, though, this book offers a story of hope grounded in multispecies resilience.

Narrating Nature: Wildlife Conservation and Maasai Ways of Knowing

Mara Jill Goldman
November 2020 / $60 / 304 pp.

The current environmental crises demand that we revisit dominant approaches for understanding nature-society relations. Narrating Nature brings together various ways of knowing nature from differently situated Maasai and conservation practitioners and scientists into lively debate. It speaks to the growing movement within the academy and beyond on decolonizing knowledge about and relationships with nature, and debates within the social sciences on how to work across epistemologies and ontologies. It also speaks to a growing need within conservation studies to find ways to manage nature with people.

This book employs different storytelling practices, including a traditional Maasai oral meeting—the enkiguena—to decenter conventional scientific ways of communicating about, knowing, and managing nature. Author Mara J. Goldman draws on more than two decades of deep ethnographic and ecological engagements in the semi-arid rangelands of East Africa—in landscapes inhabited by pastoral and agropastoral Maasai people and heavily utilized by wildlife. These iconic landscapes have continuously been subjected to boundary drawing practices by outsiders, separating out places for people (villages) from places for nature (protected areas). Narrating Nature follows the resulting boundary crossings that regularly occur—of people, wildlife, and knowledge—to expose them not as transgressions but as opportunities to complicate the categories themselves and create ontological openings for knowing and being with nature otherwise.

Narrating Nature opens up dialogue that counters traditional conservation narratives by providing space for local Maasai inhabitants to share their ways of knowing and being with nature. It moves beyond standard community conservation narratives that see local people as beneficiaries or contributors to conservation, to demonstrate how they are essential knowledgeable members of the conservation landscape itself.

La Raza Cosmética: Beauty, Identity, and Settler Colonialism in Postrevolutionary Mexico

Natasha Varner
October 2020 / $30 / 200 pp.

In the decades following the Mexican Revolution, nation builders, artists, and intellectuals manufactured ideologies that continue to give shape to popular understandings of indigeneity and mestizaje today. Postrevolutionary identity tropes emerged as part of broader efforts to reunify the nation and solve pressing social concerns, including what was posited in the racist rhetoric of the time as the “Indian problem.” Through a complex alchemy of appropriation and erasure, indigeneity was idealized as a relic of the past while mestizaje was positioned as the race of the future. This period of identity formation coincided with a boom in technology that introduced a sudden proliferation of images on the streets and in homes: there were more photographs in newspapers, movie houses cropped up across the country, and printing houses mass-produced calendar art and postcards. La Raza Cosmética traces postrevolutionary identity ideals and debates as they were dispersed to the greater public through emerging visual culture.

Critically examining beauty pageants, cinema, tourism propaganda, photography, murals, and more, Natasha Varner shows how postrevolutionary understandings of mexicanidad were fundamentally structured by legacies of colonialism, as well as shifting ideas about race, place, and gender. This interdisciplinary study smartly weaves together cultural history, Indigenous and settler colonial studies, film and popular culture analysis, and environmental and urban history. It also traces a range of Indigenous interventions in order to disrupt top-down understandings of national identity construction and to “people” this history with voices that have all too often been entirely ignored.

Soldiers, Saints, and Shamans: Indigenous Communities and the Revolutionary State in Mexico’s Gran Nayar, 1910–1940

Nathaniel Morris
September 2020 / $55 / 392 pp.

The Mexican Revolution gave rise to the Mexican nation-state as we know it today. Rural revolutionaries took up arms against the Díaz dictatorship in support of agrarian reform, in defense of their political autonomy, or inspired by a nationalist desire to forge a new Mexico. However, in the Gran Nayar, a rugged expanse of mountains and canyons, the story was more complex, as the region’s four Indigenous peoples fought both for and against the revolution and the radical changes it bought to their homeland.

To make sense of this complex history, Nathaniel Morris offers the first systematic understanding of the participation of the Náayari, Wixárika, O’dam, and Mexicanero peoples in the Mexican Revolution. They are known for being among the least “assimilated” of all Mexico’s Indigenous peoples. It’s often been assumed that they were stuck up in their mountain homeland—“the Gran Nayar”—with no knowledge of the uprisings, civil wars, military coups, and political upheaval that convulsed the rest of Mexico between 1910 and 1940.

Based on extensive archival research and years of fieldwork in the rugged and remote Gran Nayar, Morris shows that the Náayari, Wixárika, O’dam, and Mexicanero peoples were actively involved in the armed phase of the revolution. This participation led to serious clashes between an expansionist, “rationalist” revolutionary state and the highly autonomous communities and heterodox cultural and religious practices of the Gran Nayar’s inhabitants. Morris documents confrontations between practitioners of subsistence agriculture and promoters of capitalist development, between rival Indian generations and political factions, and between opposing visions of the world, of religion, and of daily life. These clashes produced some of the most severe defeats that the government’s state-building programs suffered during the entire revolutionary era, with significant and often counterintuitive consequences both for local people and for the Mexican nation as a whole.

Reflections of a Transborder Anthropologist: From Netzahualcóyotl to Aztlán

Carlos G. Vélez-Ibáñez
October 2020 / $37.95 / 408 pp.

The Mexican Revolution gave rise to the Mexican nation-state as we know it today. Rural revolutionaries took up arms against the Díaz dictatorship in support of agrarian reform, in defense of their political autonomy, or inspired by a nationalist desire to forge a new Mexico. However, in the Gran Nayar, a rugged expanse of mountains and canyons, the story was more complex, as the region’s four Indigenous peoples fought both for and against the revolution and the radical changes it bought to their homeland.

To make sense of this complex history, Nathaniel Morris offers the first systematic understanding of the participation of the Náayari, Wixárika, O’dam, and Mexicanero peoples in the Mexican Revolution. They are known for being among the least “assimilated” of all Mexico’s Indigenous peoples. It’s often been assumed that they were stuck up in their mountain homeland—“the Gran Nayar”—with no knowledge of the uprisings, civil wars, military coups, and political upheaval that convulsed the rest of Mexico between 1910 and 1940.

Based on extensive archival research and years of fieldwork in the rugged and remote Gran Nayar, Morris shows that the Náayari, Wixárika, O’dam, and Mexicanero peoples were actively involved in the armed phase of the revolution. This participation led to serious clashes between an expansionist, “rationalist” revolutionary state and the highly autonomous communities and heterodox cultural and religious practices of the Gran Nayar’s inhabitants. Morris documents confrontations between practitioners of subsistence agriculture and promoters of capitalist development, between rival Indian generations and political factions, and between opposing visions of the world, of religion, and of daily life. These clashes produced some of the most severe defeats that the government’s state-building programs suffered during the entire revolutionary era, with significant and often counterintuitive consequences both for local people and for the Mexican nation as a whole.

Mexico’s Community Forest Enterprises: Success on the Commons and the Seeds of a Good Anthropocene

David Barton Bray
November 2020 / $49.95 / 312 pp.

The road to sustainable forest management and stewardship has been debated for decades. Some advocate for governmental control and oversight. Some say that the only way to stem the tide of deforestation is to place as many tracts as possible under strict protection. Caught in the middle of this debate, forest inhabitants of the developing world struggle to balance the extraction of precarious livelihoods from forests while responding to increasing pressures from national governments, international institutions, and their own perceptions of environmental decline to protect biodiversity, restore forests, and mitigate climate change.

Mexico presents a unique case in which much of the nation’s forests were placed as commons in the hands of communities, who, with state support and their own entrepreneurial vigor, created community forest enterprises (CFEs). David Barton Bray, who has spent more than thirty years engaged with and researching Mexican community forestry, shows that this reform has transformed forest management in that country at a scale and level of maturity unmatched anywhere else in the world.

For decades Mexico has been conducting a de facto large-scale experiment in the design of a national social-ecological system (SES) focused on community forests. What happens when you give subsistence communities rights over forests, as well as training, organizational support, equipment, and financial capital? Do the communities destroy the forest in the name of economic development, or do they manage them sustainably, generating current income while maintaining intergenerational value as a resource for their children? Bray shares the scientific and social evidence that can now begin to answer these questions. This is an invaluable resource for students, researchers, and the interested public on the future of global forest resilience and the possibilities for a good Anthropocene.

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