From Out of the Shadows
Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America
Oxford University Press 2008
New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Latino StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network December 11, 2008 Marshall Poe
There was a time when “history” was the history of powerful people. Shakespeare captures this notion of history in the prologue to Henry V:
O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then and for centuries afterward, princes were deemed the proper focus of the historical investigations. The history of history from about 1950 to the present has largely been one of “democratizing” that view of the past. Princes are still given their due, but now a host of previously invisible people are as well. In the hands of social historians, butchers, bakers, candlestick makers, male and female, European and non-European have all been given a written history.
Our guest today, Vicki Ruiz, is one of the pioneers in this effort. Her path-breaking From Out of the Shadows: Mexican Women in Twentieth-Century America (Oxford UP, 1998; Tenth Anniversary Edition, 2008) shed light on the lives of one of these invisible groups for the first time. Through interviews and extensive documentary investigation, Vicki does a masterful job reconstructing the experiences of immigrant women who have gone by many names–Mexicanas, Tejanas, Chicanas, Hispanas among them. She describes in vivid detail how they negotiated the life passages of school, marriage, motherhood, and work while trying to balance the forces of assimilation and tradition. Though the book is about Mexican women, the theme resonates with the American immigrant experience more generally. Their story is our story. Read From Out of the Shadows and find out how.
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