As an anthropologist, I have worked in Mexico, as well as other parts of Latin America and Spain, since 1980. I studied at Princeton University and did my dissertation research, with the help of awards from the NSA and Fulbright, in the town of Mexquitic in north-central Mexico (pictured in the panorama above). My dissertation dealt with the colonial and post-colonial history of the region and the politics of ethnic identity. It was the basis for my book, Indians into Mexicans, published by University of Texas Press in 1996.
…The continual construction of culture is particularly evident and important in a place such as Mexquitic where two cultures, first brought together by colonialism and later kept together by nationalism, are in constant contact….
My research and reading in anthropology and in the histories and cultures of Latin America form the background for the courses I teach on Mexico, Latin America, the comparative study of culture, and historical anthropology.
In my parallel life, I am a translator from Spanish to English, and for this aspect of my research I received a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Award in 2001.
…translation can be, like poetry itself, a celebration of the joys of the written and spoken word….
My translations include The Mangy Parrot by José Joaquín Fernández de Lizardi, reputedly the first novel written in Latin America (1816); The First New Chronicle and Good Government by Guaman Poma, an important testimony of life in Peru under colonial rule (written 1600-1615); and recent works such as the Cuban science fiction novel A Planet for Rent by Yoss. Counting them all up, so far I have published more than twenty books in translation (and a grand total, by my count, of just over 2 million words). There is a lot more about my translations under the “publications” tab.